Winter Windshield Tips

Learn how to properly remove snow and ice without damaging glass.
winter windshield

We’ve all been there – rushing out the door on a frigid morning only to find your car covered in snow and ice, then having to spend what seems like an eternity scraping your windshield off while waiting for the car to warm up.

While snow and ice are inevitable, such difficult mornings are anything but. There are several methods of quickly and efficiently removing snow and ice from your car – without damaging it – to keep you out of the cold and back on the road.

How to properly defrost your windshield

To get rid of the layer of frost on your windshield, you’ll first want to make sure your car has warmed up. A cold engine won’t produce the warm air you’ll need. Once you’re operating at the proper temperature, set the climate control to full defrost rather than bi-level. However, you don’t want to put the defroster on full blast right away. The drastic change in temperature can cause any small chips in the glass to crack even further. It’s best to allow the windshield to warm up gradually.

Make sure to set the defroster so that it’s utilizing fresh air, not re-circulated air. This air is likely drier and can absorb moisture better than the humid air in your car.

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How can you remove snow from your windshield without damaging it?

If you’re not careful, or if you’re using the wrong tools, you can easily scratch or otherwise damage the glass when trying to remove snow from your windshield.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, you will want to use a long-handled household broom or a specialty snow broom specifically made to be used on cars (sometimes called a snow rake). Standing on one side of the vehicle, place the broom in the center of the windshield and push or pull the snow off the car. It’s important to do this before the snow turns to ice, which can be much more difficult and time-consuming to remove.

While you’re at it, remove the snow from the entire car – hood, roof, lights and license plates. Having snow fall off your vehicle while you’re driving can be a danger on the roadways.

winter windshield

What’s the best way to remove ice from the car?

If your vehicle door isn’t frozen shut and you’re able to get in, do so and start the car. This will allow the vehicle to warm up and the ice to begin to melt.

If you need to do more than just defrost the windshield to get rid of ice, make sure not to use sharp-edged tools – and never use a shovel. A strong plastic ice scraper will do just fine. Wait until the car starts to heat up and lightly thaws, then gently tap on the ice with the snow broom to loosen it up and push it off.

You can also use a de-icer spray on the windshield. These can be easily made at home in one of two ways. First, you can mix two-thirds rubbing alcohol and one-third water in a spray bottle. The second method is to combine several spoonfuls of table or road salt and water. Both can be made ahead of time and kept in a spray bottle in your car during winter months.

You do need to be careful to make sure these solutions are only used on the glass. The rubbing alcohol can remove wax from your car’s paint while the salt water can corrode any metal on the vehicle.

Do I need to replace my windshield wipers?

It’s recommended that you swap out your windshield wipers before winter arrives. Old, dull wipers won’t be able to effectively clear snow and ice, and can also damage your windshield. You can purchase new, all-weather wiper blades online or at your nearest auto parts store.

Get more car safety tips. 

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