The cold winter months can give us all a chill. The days get dark far too quickly, you can’t find your hat and scarf from last winter, and even a quick trip to the shops requires more layers than an onion.
But it’s not just your body that suffers from the cold. Your car can easily become a victim of the winter chill, especially if you don’t have somewhere warm and snug to store it away at night.
You might have experience of this from last year. Getting up in the morning to go to work or the shops, only to find an ice cube instead of car. The windscreen is frozen solid, the car seemingly refuses to start, and sometimes you can’t even unlock the car doors.
So the worst has happened. What can you do to de-ice your car properly? Here’s our guide.
If you are in a rush, then there is a bigger chance that you will make a mistake or do something that delays your journey further. To clear your car, it’s best to have a clear head, and not worry about getting somewhere in time.
So in the winter months, give yourself an extra 10-20 minutes before you leave to make sure you have time to get your car ready. That extra breathing space will be really beneficial and also give you a bit more time to make alternative arrangements if your car is completely unusable.
The winter is also no time to be rushing around, especially on the road. So having that extra time to get yourself ready will mean you can take your time on the road too.
Before winter really hits home, now is the time to check you have the right equipment. Do you have a scraper to clean your windows? De-icer spray that has plenty of fluid left inside? These things are easy to lose over the year, and can easily be chucked out during the summer months when you need room for sunscreen and beach towels.
Check at the start of winter, as you don’t want to get caught out. There are ways to make your own de-icing liquid by mixing a bottle of water with a spoonful of salt. As long as you have a used misting spray bottle, you can use that to apply to the frozen surface. Water and vinegar also works, but you need a lot of vinegar (ratio of 3:1 to water). Beware as this can corrode your paintwork.
But if you do this wrong, you can end up with a mess or damaging your car. And don’t even think about using boiling water as a way to quickly clear the windscreen. The sudden changes of temperature can cause the window to crack and become damaged, leaving your car undriveable.
The first thing you should do is get inside the car and turn the engine on. You’ll want to get your car nice and warm as that will help to warm the windscreen from the inside, so crank the blowers up to full heat and power. Obviously, if your car has a heated windscreen option, turn that on. You should also turn the air con on if you have it available. This will keep the air in your car nice and dry too.
Next, it’s time to de-ice and get scraping. Follow the instructions on the side of the bottle and spray as directed. Once it starts to take action, now is the time for some elbow grease. Get the scraper and push the loose ice to the edges of the windshield. Make sure you use a proper scraper here, otherwise you might not clear all the obstruction out of the way and could damage the glass. You should also wear gloves while you do this, so your hands don’t get too cold while you do the cleaning.
Once the windscreen is clear, now you need to clean the inside too. The sudden change of temperature will cause condensation to stick to the inside of the windscreen. Get kitchen towel or a cloth and wipe the water off the glass from the inside.
Now that the windscreen is cleared, do the rear window and the two front windows. This is so you can ensure that your mirrors are working effectively.
Make sure the mirrors are all clean and ice free too. If they aren’t, you should repeat the same process with the de-icer spray and scraping.
If you have an older car that still requires a key to enter, or your lock fob isn’t working, then you may find the door frozen shut. You need to heat the mechanism somehow. The easiest way to do this is to heat your key and use that to heat the lock too.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with a little blowtorch, like you might use in the kitchen or have in your toolbox. Heat the key and the lock and it will be unlocked soon.
Of course, one of the best steps you can take before the winter hits is to have everything prepared in advance. Having a de-icing kit in your car or house will help speed things up dramatically.
You should also check the anti-freeze levels in your car’s radiator. If you’ve topped up the water over the summer to prevent it overheating, chances are you’ll have diluted the levels of anti-freeze in the car’s system. So buy yourself some from your local motoring or DIY shop and top up the value.
You may also want to get your battery checked, as the winter can have a big effect on how well it works.
Not only is driving with a frozen windscreen extremely dangerous, it’s also illegal. You could end up with three points on your licence and a fine of at least £60. The penalty is for driving with limited vision.