Table of Contents
When Rain-X first hit the market it caused quite a stir among car enthusiasts. It was a wonderful product, unlike anything seen before. Driving in the rain for the first time after applying it is amazing. Perfect visibility with almost no need to turn on the wipers. You never really realize what you’re missing until you try a good water repellent. However, it’s a little disappointing to find out how quickly the effects fade though.
Rain-X is still the most popular brand of windshield water repellent. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more effective options on the market now. The Rain-X original formula has been improved over the last few decades. I did some digging on this, hoping to discover the water repellent with the best performance. We have come a long way since the original glass treatment!
After some extensive research, scouring online detailing forums, and reading customer feedback, we can comfortably recommend one product. Without a doubt, Gtechniq G1 is the best rain repellent money can buy.
While I can’t say enough good about Gtechniq G1, I did try several other rain repellent products that I recommend as well. These products are recommended for their longevity, efficacy, and price. CarPro FlyBy FORTE and Aquapel are both serviceable alternatives to Gtechniq G1. Whether you are looking for the best-in-show or a budget choice, One of these three picks should be right for you.
What is the Difference Between Rain Repellents?
One treatment of Gtechniq can last years with typical rain and wiper use. Compare that to the month or two you get with Rain-X. You’ll need to be prepared to pay quite a bit more but you’ll be getting a far superior performing product.
Beading performance from Rain-X alternatives will be very similar. Some customers of the various products report slightly better or slightly worse beading action. Overall you can expect water repelling to be about the same as the Rain-X original formula.
What you’re paying for with these premium repellent options is longevity. These products will last orders of magnitude longer than Rain-X. In addition to their longevity, Gtechniq G1 boasts increased protection against scratches, dirt, and debris.
Most Rain-X alternatives offer basic protection from the elements and increased visibility. They are, overall, easy to apply and worth the effort.
Just a quick reminder. Chemicals like these should always be applied to a clean, dry car. If you apply them outside, make sure the weather is dry and above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you choose to work on your car indoors, keep the area well ventilated. We recommend wearing gloves to protect your hands while working with any car care chemicals.
While most products come with a cotton pad for application, you may need additional towels for cleanup. Have cotton buffing pads ready before you begin for use on your glass, and shop towels to clean up any spills. You may also want a bottle of your preferred glass cleaner on hand.
Lastly, be careful not to get any glass treatments anywhere besides the glass. These chemicals are like magic on your windows and windscreen but can wreak havoc on the rest of your car. Weather coating has been known to affect paint and finish. Be sure to wipe up any spills immediately.
Gtechniq G1 has a cult-like following by those that have discovered this impressive product. Beading action with G1 is very good for improving visibility. It’s definitely on par with Rain-X.
The reason Gtechniq G1 is our top pick is that it has the longest customer-reported lifespan of all of the Rain-X alternatives researched. Gtechniq claims up to 2 years of life in ideal conditions. Customers frequently report well over 1 year of life, or up to 30,000 miles. As we established, the deciding factor for choosing a rain repellent is longevity.
Gtechniq application is a 2 bottle solution. We’d recommend clay barring your windshield prior to applying to ensure the best results. That way, your glass will be as clean as possible. Debris trapped on the surface of the glass can cause scratches or streaking as the product is applied.
If you have never clay barred your windshield before, don’t worry. It is a fairly simple process. We have written up a quick guide on how to clay bar your windshield for those of you wondering how it’s done.
How do you apply Gtechniq G1?
First, select your glass cleaner of choice. Once the windscreen is adequately clean and dry, apply 3 coats of Gtechniq G1 solution.
Start by wetting the provided cloth with the G1 water repellent. Be sure to protect your hands by wearing latex or nitrile gloves. Avoid extreme temperatures (below 40° F and above 85° F) as well as direct sunlight to ensure your windshield treatment turns out streak-free.
The g1 should be applied to the glass surface in small, circular motions. You may see some residue during these applications. This is normal. Resist the urge to wipe it away until the last step. Wait at least five minutes between applications for side windows, and at least 15 minutes for your windshield.
Once you have allowed the three applications of water repellent to dry, you’ll use the G2 to finish the surface and buff off the excess g1. We recommend using a cotton buffing cloth, rather than microfiber as microfiber is a bit too dense to absorb and remove the excess g1 repellent.
Best in Show
Application isn’t quite as simple as Rain-X windshield treatments, but not terribly complex. The results are well worth the extra effort. Not only will G1 water repellent last longer than Rain-X original recipe, but G1 will also repel dirt and debris. The result is well-protected, high visibility glass that repels water and wipes clean with ease.
Due to its incredibly long life and high performance, Gtechniq G1 is my top pick for this kind of product.
CarPro FlyBy FORTE
CarPro FlyBy FORTE glass treatment is a close runner-up to Gtechniq G1. Like G1, FORTE also claims up to 2 years of life. Unfortunately, customer feedback was less conclusive but generally extremely positive.
Some claimed water did not bead away until higher speeds when compared with other products. This was rather inconsistently reported, so we tested this ourselves. G1 is still the first choice, but FORTE performed well in wet weather. While it does not last quite as long, FORTE has terrific water beading and the coating is easy to apply.
The downside is that Forte is quite a bit more expensive. The extra price compared with other glass water repellent products gets you the ease of application, but not better water beading. If you prefer a product that is easy to apply you might like FORTE best.
FORTE is my recommendation for anyone daunted by the application process of the Gtechniq product line, but not afraid to spend extra for a premium product.
How do You Apply CarPro FlyBy FORTE?
FORTE is slightly less involved to apply than the Gtechniq G1 water repellent. Like rain-x, FORTE is one simple glass treatment. Be sure to clean the glass thoroughly before you begin. FORTE windshield treatment comes in a squirt-tipped bottle, so you may wish to transfer it to a spray bottle before applying, but this is optional.
We still recommend applying in a cool place, out of direct sunlight to keep your windshield streak-free. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and work in a well-ventilated area. Be sure not to let the product touch the paint of your car.
When the glass surface of your windshield is clean and dry, apply the glass treatment to the supplied cotton pad. We do not recommend using a paper towel or microfiber cloth, as these materials are coarse, and can cause the coating to be applied to the glass unevenly. If you find that you need additional cloth, try using a cotton buffing cloth to protect your glass and the product on it.
With the repellent applied to the cotton cloth, apply the treatment to the glass in small circular motions, coating the entire windshield. The treatment will quickly become transparent as you work. Be sure to work in sections to avoid applying multiple layers of the product at a time. Apply 2-3 coats onto your windshield glass, waiting at least five minutes between each coat.
After your last coating, use the same cloth to buff any residue off the glass of your windshield. Do not apply any additional product to the cloth Unlike G1, you do not need any additional products or coatings to cure the glass treatment. Once the product has fully dried, you can spray and wipe your windshield as usual with a glass cleaner.
Easy G1 Alternative
If you’ve tried G1 and had issues with it but would like to try an alternative, FORTE treatment is a great choice. It has excellent run-off performance as well as long life. While the FORTE coating is easy to apply and will repel water just as well as G1, it is not quite as long-lasting. Even so, CarPro FlyBy FORTE has been reported to last up to 2 years in ideal conditions.
FORTE will repel rain, sleet, and other wet weather, but offers little protection against dirt and debris. Like all things car care, it comes down to preference.
Aquapel is quite inexpensive compared to the other rain repellent options in this review. That is because it only claims up to 6 months of life. According to customer reviews, you may need to reapply Aquapel windshield treatment in as little as 5 months.
Aquapel still lasts nearly twice as long as Rain-X, but not nearly as long as G1 or FORTE. That said, Aquapel repellent is a great value product that will repel water from your windshield while the coating lasts.
The real advantage to Aquapel is the ease of application. Aquapel comes inside its own applicator making this the easiest product to use.
How do You Apply Aquapel Windshield Glass Treatment?
Application is much simpler than the other windshield treatment options in this review. Just like Rain-X, Aquapel can be applied in one simple application. Aquapel comes not in a bottle, but as a small wiper with a windshield solution reservoir attached.
Once you have gone over the glass windshield with your preferred glass cleaner, place the Aquapel applicator against the glass. Once you squeeze the applicator and break the seal, the glass coating will seep into the applicator and onto the glass.
Work the applicator across your windshield in even strokes, coating the glass quickly, before the applicator dries. After this coating, the applicator can be discarded. Do not allow residue to harden on the glass. Take a paper towel or microfiber cloth and buff the surface of your windshield as soon as you have finished the application. Aquapel drives very quickly.
After one application, go over the glass with your bottle of cleaner once more to ensure your windshield is clean.
Best For the Budget
If ease of application is important to you, Aquapel is a serviceable option for your windshield and windows. While it is not as long-lasting as other water-repellant options, it will still out-perform Rain-X and won’t break the bank.
If you find that your windshield needs to be cleaned more often due to the conditions you drive in, you might prefer Aquapel. Cleaning the glass of your windshield often due to dirt, tree sap, or other debris finding its way to your windshield will reduce the lifespan of your windshield treatment, making the high price of G1, FORTE, and other premium products unappealing.
The best treatment in the world cannot withstand constant cleaning. If other rain repellent products don’t seem to be long-lasting, you may want to try Aquapel.
So long as you apply it frequently, Aquapel repels water and improves visibility almost as well as other coatings. What it lacks in longevity, it makes up for with price and is easy to apply.
Hopefully, you have decided on a weather coating for your windscreen and windows. While you are here, we wanted to share a few other bits of expertise on car care and treatments.
Should I Put Rain Repellent on my Windows?
This is a matter of preference. Water on windows does not pose much of a problem in terms of visibility. While the products we recommended can be applied to windows, they are expensive and unnecessary.
That said, most of these products last a long time and offer some additional protection for your glass. unlike windshields, your windows can be kept clean by the occasional spray of glass cleaner and a good wipe down. If you choose to use a premium product on your front and back windshields and have leftover in the bottle, you can of course apply it to your windows.
How does Rain-X and other rain repellents work?
Basically, rain repellents are hydrophobic polymers that you apply to glass. Hydrophobic means “tending to repel or not mix with water”. Essentially these polymers change the contact angle between the water and the glass. This type of product causes the water to sit more above the surface of the glass and creates less of a contact patch which allows it to bead off very easily.
Because the repellent surface causes water to bead, your windshield has better visibility in rain or other inclement weather. This beading effect also improves the performance of your wipers.
What are the downsides of using rain repellents on my windscreen?
The biggest problem with rain repellent is the fact that it isn’t permanent. No matter what rain repellent product you choose, you will need to reapply the coating to the glass eventually.
While this isn’t a big problem it can be inconvenient and expensive. That’s why premium products like Gtechniq G1 exist. Rain-X typically only lasts a couple of months while Gtechniq G1 can last 2 years.
Other than that, there are no downsides to using a rain repellant product. Even the budget options last a long time. Once you’ve driven with a rain repellant product on your front and back windshields, you won’t want to go back to bare glass.
What to do if Wipers Chatter on Windshield
Another problem that can occur is that windshield wipers may chatter. Wiper chatter is when the wipers skip across the windshield as opposed to smoothly gliding across, causing a chattering sound. High-end rain repellents tend to not have this problem nearly as much as cheaper repellents.
As rain repellents wear out the chattering will begin to appear or worsen. If your windshield wipers are making a racket, it may be time to reapply the rain repellent. Always start by giving your windshield glass good cleaning. If your wipers are still skipping or chattering, you need a new windshield treatment.
What can be done to extend the life of a rain repellent Product?
There are several things you can do to help increase the lifespan of your chosen coating. Whether you have chosen a premium, long-lasting product or a cheaper treatment that lasts 6 months, there are some simple things you can do to help your coating last as long as possible.
Avoid Your Windshield Wipers
The best thing you can do is try to avoid using your wipers. If your glass water repellent is performing as intended, you may not need your wipers for light rain at high speeds.
This isn’t always possible, however. Although these glass water repellent coatings do a great job of allowing water to easily bead up and blow away from your windshield when driving, low speeds are a problem.
If you are driving in town, water repellent coatings tend to not be enough for good visibility. Likewise, in a real downpour, you will need to engage your wipers to drive safely. Never sacrifice visibility just to avoid your wipers.
Not All Windshields are Created Equal
Some vehicles will suffer this problem more than others. More streamlined cars like sports cars will be far less likely to allow the water to bead off at lower speeds. Unfortunately, a truck with a more upright windshield angle will have a harder time ridding itself of water or snow.
This has no effect on the product you choose or how long that product lasts, but it is still worth noting.
Never Wipe A Dry Windshield
Whatever you do be sure not to turn your wipers on when the glass of your windshield is dry and dirty. This will have the worst possible effect on the surface of your windshield. In addition, it can easily scratch the glass, making both windshield wipers and glass coatings ineffective.
If you have a spot of dirt or bug splat on your windshield, resist the urge to put on your wipers. I like to keep a spray bottle of cleaning product in my car for just this purpose. Give your glass a spray of product and a quick wipe to get that dirt off before engaging your windshield wipers. Your car will thank you.
Do I Need to Replace My Wiper Blades?
If your windshield wipers are dirty, old, or worn, they aren’t doing your visibility or your glass any favors. Wipers in disrepair can wreak havoc on glass and glass treatments. If your wipes are stuttering or chattering right after a new application of a water protection product, it may be time to change the wipers. The purchase of new wipers is a lot less than the price of a replacement for scratched glass.
To keep your weather coating long-lasting and your visibility good, keep your wipers in good repair.
Keep Your Windshield Glass Clean
Another important factor is how well cleaned the windshield was prior to application. Thoroughly cleaning your windshield is a must. We recommend that you use a clay bar on your windshield to remove as much stubborn buildup as possible. That way you have a pristine glass surface, or as close to it as you can get, before applying your car care product.
Most importantly, never attempt to clean the glass dry. Even if it’s just a smudge or a fleck of dirt, make sure you use a spray bottle any time you touch the glass. Failure to do so can cause scratches that will catch on your windshield wiper and affect visibility. Speaking of scratches…
Don’t Scratch the Glass
Avoid using a coarse paper towel on your glass. We recommend using a soft cotton buffing cloth to clean your windshield and windows. A microfiber cloth or a disposable shop towel can be used to clean glass, but they run the risk of scratching the glass.
Watch Where You Park
Where you park will also have a significant impact on the lifespan of your coating. Parking outside versus in a garage will expose the glass to rain, sun, bird droppings, and more.
Every time you clean your glass, you degrade the coating just a little bit more. It can be hard to avoid these kinds of dangers when you park outside. Remember that when you park under a tree, where birds sit and sap drips, your glass pays the price. Your paint, too.
You may not be able to do much about this, unfortunately. If possible, be mindful of where you regularly park. You may be able to extend the lifespan of your coatings and protect your glass some. For instance, there’s a parking garage near where I work. It’s a further walk but worth the effort to me. Not only am I protecting the windshield glass, but also the interior, the paint, etc.
Best Windshield Water Repellent - Conclusion
There are many popular water-resistant glass coatings on the market in addition to Rain-X such as Aquapel or Hydro-Lok. You can even use products such as Chemical Guys JetSeal which is meant for paint but also works well on glass. This is by no means a complete list of water-resistant products.
If you’re looking for the best performance and the longest lifespan then you’ll want to go with Gtechniq G1. It’s the top performer base on our research. Customers swear by its incredibly long life.
A Premium rain repellent product isn’t cheap but will last a lot longer. More important, water protection products like G1 are far less prone to dreaded windshield wiper chatter. If you are still using the original glass coating Rain-X, it’s time to rethink your car care.
If you’re going to go for a hydrophobic windscreen coating product we recommend going with the best or not doing it at all. Cheaper products that don’t last as long will end up driving you crazy with needing to regularly apply to avoid the inevitable wiper chatter. In the long run, Rain-X and other low-budget options will cost you more money, and more time.
When it comes to your car, go big or go home.