If you’ve ever had your windshield completely frost over while driving down the road, you know it can challenging to drive safely. When you’re armed with the knowledge to deal with a frozen windshield or prevent it from happening, you can safely navigate the roads this winter. We investigated the ways to prevent your windshield from freezing to bring you some answers.
Driving with a frozen windshield is dangerous. Prevent your windshield from freezing by keeping your defroster heat on high and focused on the windshield to try and prevent it from freezing up while driving. You can also try using a de-icer windshield wiper fluid. However, if your windshield freezes over while you’re on the road, follow these tips:
- Slow down (under 50 mph)
- Pullover to a safe location
- Spray cold-weather windshield wiper fluid
- Remove ice with a plastic scraper when necessary
We all know that ice comes with winter weather. Preparing now is something you will appreciate when freezing rain and winds make your commute a real struggle. Keep reading for more information to help you have a clear windshield and a safer drive this winter.
Can a Car Freeze Up While Driving?
Car windows tend to ice over for a few simple reasons. Knowing why your car is icing over will help you melt the problem pretty quickly. You may be iced over because of any of the following reasons:
- Sleet or snowy weather conditions
- Humidity or excess moisture inside the vehicle
- Failing to scrape ice or warm up the vehicle
On occasion, an especially nasty ice storm can make driving treacherous for even the most experienced drivers. Freezing rain can make windshields challenging to keep clean and render wipers useless. In this situation, a good spritz of de-icing windshield fluid is a step that can help keep your visibility and halt a sheen of ice on your window.
The windshield wiper fluid can also be purchased at any big-box store, but look for a type of solution that states explicitly “de-icer” or “rated for cold temperatures.” Besides filling your windshield wiper tank with this solution, aerosol and spray bottle de-icer products are also handy to keep in your vehicle – especially when your wipers freeze to the window, and your wiper fluid won’t ooze out of the sprayer.
Use either an aerosol or spray bottle style, apply de-icer to the outside of the car window, which will melt ice almost instantly. When selecting these de-icers, you should make sure that the bottle states that they will not harm vehicle paint. Some of these solutions are equipped with a plastic scraper attachment to assist in this process.
If buying a pre-made chemical is not your style, you can also mix just a few household products in a pinch. Common rubbing alcohol and dish soap can be applied to de-ice. Combining the two in a spray bottle with water can yield excellent results.
Many experts advise against using vinegar solutions as they may eventually cause harm to paint finish. A recipe to consider will include 1/3 cup of water and 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol, along with a squirt of dish soap.
If your vehicle is icing over on the inside, there may be a problem with your heating system. Floor mats that do not completely dry can allow for excess moisture to rise and condense on the windows and then freeze over. One way to avoid this is to make sure the inside of your vehicle stays dry, but also to make sure your heating system is operating correctly.
If your heating system is not operating correctly, you may have to adjust your settings, perhaps even leaving back windows open a crack to let moist air out.
Not all of us have the luxury of having a cozy garage to park our car in or an automatic starter that we can crank on. As a result, winter leaves us with cold cars and iced over wipers.
If you are in a hurry to get to your destination, warming up the car is often the last thing on your mind. However, it’s one of the easiest ways to avoid peering out through an icy windshield. In as little as 10 minutes, you can have a cozy ride and much clearer windows.
Don’t be afraid to crank your defroster to the highest setting to blast windows and melt ice. And if all else fails or you really can’t wait, using a scraper is one of the best methods to get through the ice fast. Keep in mind that plastic tools are pretty tough when you put elbow grease behind them.
There’s no reason to buy a metal window scraper, even though they are available at most hardware stores. Scratched and chipped windows are a real risk with metal scrapers as you can often dig into glass unintentionally.
Will Cold Water Crack a Frozen Windshield?
One temptation that many drivers have is to pour water over their frozen windshield when they are in a hurry to thaw and cruise. Although this water method works, it can be risky.
Hot or very warm water can lead to a chip or crack as the glass is brought up in temperature too quickly – leading you to a much higher cost of replacing an entire windshield.
Cooler, or even lukewarm, water is safer to use but will take considerably longer to thaw your icy windows. There is some risk involved in using cool water, as well. Some experts advise not using water under any circumstances if temps dip below 25 degrees Fahrenheit as it will merely add another layer to the problem.
Also, just because salt or brine solutions clear the roads, does not mean it will be the wonder of windshields. Using salt/brine on a windshield not only creates an abrasive effect that could lead to permanent scratches in your windshield, but it will also harm your vehicle’s paint in the long run.
How to Keep Windshield Wipers from Freezing While Driving
While going down the road, the last thing you want are wipers that clunk across your windshield or slop over, without producing a clean window. To keep wipers slick and working through the worst of winter, consider the following:
- Clean wipers off before heading out
- Spray wipers with a de-icer solution
- Check blades to see if replacements are needed
- Make sure wiper motors are functioning by testing them out before your trip
Should I Leave My Windshield Wipers up When It Snows?
If you’ve ever seen window wipers standing straight up on a parked vehicle, you may have wondered, what is the point? It’s not a bad idea.
Leaving wipers off of windshields ensures that wipers won’t ice over or even get stuck to the windshield. While it may look crazy, it could save you the frustration of trying to peel your frozen wiper off the windshield – perhaps damaging it in the process.
And remember, there’s a little motor that powers those wipers. If you attempt to force that wiper to work when they are seriously frozen to the window, you might burn up the engine and ruin your wipers all together. Don’t force it!
If you aren’t in the habit of leaving your wipers standing up and need to use them on an icy day, take a moment to wipe them off with a soft cloth or spritz them with de-icer. A few seconds of prep time before you take off will save you a real headache when you get down the road and realize that your wipers aren’t functioning correctly. Sometimes a good smack against the windshield is all they need.
Is It Dangerous to Drive in Extreme Cold?
It doesn’t have to be dangerous to navigate cold weather climates – if you’re prepared. Having the proper windshield wiper fluid, a good scraper and de-icer in your vehicle is a good defense when it comes to icy windows.
However, there could always be unforeseen circumstances that make travel treacherous in icy conditions. Certain frigid temperatures make window sprayers somewhat unpredictable. Further, it can be physically dangerous at times to get outside and scrape a car when frostbite is a possibility in mere minutes.
And, you may find that your vehicle won’t start when the mercury plummets too far. In such cases, it may be advisable to make sure that you’re armed with some of the following:
- A cell phone
- Warm clothing/blanket
- Jumper cables
Winter Happens – Just Plan Ahead
No matter what the winter brings, with a little forethought, you can navigate icy windshields and frosty windows. It’s a winter danger that needs to be addressed before it interferes with your travel plans.
With your vehicle’s window defrosting system in full effect, the right fluids and sprays, and a trusty scraper at your side, ice doesn’t stand a chance. Take care of your wipers and make sure they are functioning properly before you head out. Always be proactive in keeping yourself safe, along with passengers and other motorists.