Clearing your car windows of ice is essential to traveling safely in the cold winter months. However, clearing off layers of ice and snow can be time-consuming and frustrating, causing further delay to your journey. By using the right equipment, you can take steps to prevent ice build-up on your car windows, and clear any frozen obstructions to your vision quickly and easily.
Prevention is always better than the cure. Storing your car in a garage or car port during the winter months can provide shelter from the elements. By keeping your car under cover, you can prevent an issue with visibility the next time you slip behind the wheel.
If it is not possible to park your car inside, then an old blanket or sheet placed over the glass can act as a barrier. A tight-weave is often best, as this prevents moisture penetrating through to the windscreen. When morning comes, simply remove the blanket. Ice formation on the windscreen should be minimal, and quick to clear.
Wherever you park your car, taking a quick moment to wipe any residual moisture from the windscreen with a cloth means the glass is free of droplets and liquids that could form an icy layer. Additionally, wiping the glass with a fifty-fifty solution of anti-freeze and water can mean that any new snow fall or frost does not linger on the glass. Spread this mixture on as if you were polishing the windscreen, making sure no droplets are left behind. A thin veneer is all that is necessary to help your car windows stay clear of ice.
If you step outside and find your car covered in ice despite these precautions, then it’s time to get scraping. To effectively clear your car of ice, you will need:
An ice scraper: These can be purchased from most gas stations for a couple of dollars. Often they are made from plastic, and are a simple yet effective tool for removing ice from smooth surfaces.
De-icing spray: This is often a solution of water and other chemicals which make ice melt on contact. If you do not have any available then a mix of water and vinegar will do the trick. Put it in a spray bottle for easy application.
Warm clothes: Your car cannot feel the cold, but you can. Do not risk your health by standing around in the cold weather waiting for your car to thaw. Wrap up and keep moving to stay warm.
De-icing your car can often be time consuming, but by taking the following steps you can speed up the process as much as possible.
Firstly, turn on your car engine and the heaters, making sure they are aimed at the front and rear windscreens, and shut the doors. This raises the interior temperature of the car. This heat is then conducted through the glass to the underside of the ice sheets, allowing them to melt and slip off easily.
As the car is heating up, brush away loose ice and snow with a rag before reaching for your de-icing spray. Cover any stubborn patches of ice with a thin layer of this fluid, and then start scraping. If possible, place the scrapers blade on a clear patch of glass at a shallow angle. This will allow you to attack the root of the icy patch and remove large chunks in one go, rather than chipping away at the surface.
Do not attempt to switch on your windscreen wipers to help clear the ice. The rubber blades may be frozen to the glass surface and brittle with the chill. Not only does these mean your wiper blades could be damaged by use at this stage, but the motor that allows them to move could break with the effort of moving the wipers against the ice, resulting in a trip to the mechanic.
As tempting as it may be to boil the kettle and throw hot water over the affected glass, this is highly inadvisable. Not only could the abrupt changing in temperature cause costly damage to windscreens and windows, but in cold temperatures the additional water will quickly cool and may exacerbate your icy problem, rather than cure it.
With today’s busy lifestyles, taking the time de-ice your car can be greatly frustrating. However, in wintry conditions it is an essential and basic safety precautions, and failure to adequately remove ice from your windows could result in lethal consequences. Protect your vehicle from frost and snowfall where possible, and allow yourself extra time in the morning to prepare your car for the journey ahead.