De-icing your car is the last thing you want to do on a cold wintery day, especially when it means losing an extra 10 minutes in bed. But it’s just one more adult responsibility to add to the list to avoid breaking the law*. The temperature does not have to go below 0C for your windscreen to freeze, as glass freezes over much more quickly than other parts of the car.
*The legal bit. The Highway code states that every time you drive, you should check “the windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean”. Commercial drivers should also carry out a walkaround inspection of the vehicle and check the lights, tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, the load and other equipment. Companies usually have their own specific vehicle checks drivers need to conduct, so make sure you’re following the rules set out by your employer. Now that’s over, let’s explore different methods of de-icing.
The one with the elbow grease
You’ve probably seen it before – the blind panic when someone is late for work in the morning. They come charging out of their house at full speed and have a miniature tantrum as soon as they notice the ice on the windscreen. They find any tool they can and get scraping. We recommend investing in a proper ice-scraper to avoid damaging your windscreen rather than using a debit card as it may damage the glass. If you feel like treating yourself, you could even buy one of those fancy scrapers with a glove attached to keep you a little toastier.
The one with the chemistry
This person is prepped and ready for any wintery weather. Not only have they bought de-icer spray… they’ve actually gone as far as putting it in the car! They may have made their own de-icer with water and vinegar but their car may also smell like a chip van. If you don’t want cold hands in the morning, you can use de-icing spray, but don’t be too liberal as it isn’t great for the environment and some can ruin your paintwork!
The one who plays with the elements
It’s a risky business…Will the water be too hot and crack the windscreen or will you be playing with slush for five minutes? The shock of extreme heat on a windscreen could lead to cracks which will definitely be more time consuming than just scraping some frost off. We recommend boiling half a kettle then filling the rest up with cold water, it’s then already in an easy, portable container to take to your car. If you’re uncertain, just add more cold water until you’re feeling brave enough to try it!
The one who hates polar bears
Leaving the engine running is necessary to de-mist the windscreen but we’re all culprits for leaving it running a little longer than required. Idling forces the engine to operate in a way that is inefficient and fuel-rich which can, over time, degrade the engine’s performance. Idling is also harmful to the environment and could even land you in hot water, as leaving a vehicle parked on a public road with its engine running is an offence under the Road Vehicles Regulations. It could also leave you exposed to opportunist thieves if you wander back inside to keep warm. Do the polar bears a favour and choose a more environmentally friendly way to de-ice your car!
The one from the night before
For those early birds who need to get away fast in the morning, you can buy night-before pre-icer. Pre-icer works by providing a temporary coating that absorbs moisture, stopping it from bonding to the glass in even the most severe frosts. Again, the chemicals are not the environment’s friend, so an alternative is a windshield cover. A windshield cover also prevents frost from forming and most come with wider sides which can be tucked in the doors to ensure it remains in place through the night!