If you're planning to take to the road for an extended period of time, using your vehicle as a camper or even a full-time home in the process, then you'll want to make sure every part of your cart, truck, or van is up to the task -- including your windshield and windows. Here are some auto glass tips that can help you get the most out of your travels.
Fix Chips and Cracks ASAP (But Don't Rush the Repair)
The more time your vehicle spends zipping along the highways each day, the higher the odds that a piece of gravel or other foreign object will hit the windshield with enough force to create a chip or crack. These little dings not only make it more difficult to see everything in front of you, but they also have a tendency to grow into networks of cracks over time. Chips can collect dirt to the point that when you finally get around to a belated repair, the windshield remains permanently blemished. When you reach your next overnight stop, find a shop that does auto glass repair in the nearest town and have these professionals fix the chip properly.
You may be in a hurry to get back on the road, but don't push the auto shop to rush through your repair. If one-part urethanes are being used to seal the chip, you must wait 12 full hours for this substance to cure before setting out on the next leg of your adventure. If that's too long a wait, ask the service techs whether they can make the repair using two-part urethanes, which require just one hour of curing time.
Insulate Against Heat and Cold
Car camping, van dwelling, and other extensive vehicular habitation can get pretty uncomfortable in extreme temperatures unless you're traveling in a full-scale "all the comforts of home" RV. If your car, truck, or van wasn't designed to be lived in, you've got some insulating to do -- starting with the windows. Fortunately, covering your vehicle's windows with insulating material is cheaper and easier than you might think. One of the simplest ways to combat the sun's rays is by cutting sections of reflective bubble wrap (which can be found in home improvement stores) and pushing them into the window frame, preferably without leaving any air gaps between the glass surface and the insulating material.
Rigid styrofoam is another effective material for do-it-yourself car window insulation panels. The type of foam board with the most impressive R-value (a measure of thermal resistance is called polyisocyanurate. This product has aluminum foil on one side, meaning that you can turn the reflective side outward to reflect the sun's heat or turn it inward to help keep warmth inside the vehicle on cold days.
Tint for Privacy (But Check the Laws)
The same auto shop that can fix your chipped windshield can probably tint your car's windows as well. This can be a smart choice for the serious road-tripper or car-camper, for a variety of reasons. Most obviously, a tinted windshield can reduce irritating road glare -- but it can also block 99 percent of harmful UV rays that can contribute to skin cancer and eye diseases. Tinted windows can also provide you with a measure of privacy, especially at night, without your having to set up removable barriers such as curtains or foam board.
As practical and desirable as window tinting might seem, however, you're not necessarily at liberty to slap the darkest tint you can find on all your auto glass. Each state has its own laws about what darkness of tint you can apply to different areas of the vehicle, so if you regularly trace a particular route, find out which tint levels you can use without risking trouble. If you're traveling across state lines, find out in advance whether your destination state holds vehicles with out-of-state registrations accountable to local tint laws -- or just go with a tint combination acceptable in all states.
Keeping your auto glass in good repair, insulating windows and applying tint judiciously can help you live like the King of the Road, whether you're traveling for a week or for a lifetime. Give these components the attention they deserve, and they'll help you see the sights that much more enjoyably.