At any time of year — but particularly during the dark and potentially treacherous driving days of winter — it's essential to keep your car windows clear. So, build in extra time to remove snow and ice from your car before you drive out onto the wintry roads.
Clear the snow from around your vehicle
- Before you tackle accumulations on the windows, check to see that the tailpipe is free of snow. Snow covering your tailpipe could lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your car. After that, turn on the car and run the defroster. It may take five minutes or more to warm up the car and start the melting process. Clear snow from the roof, hood, and trunk lid while you wait.
- Next, clear the side windows and rear windows. Do the windshield last to give the defroster more time to start melting the ice.
- Don't forget to clear your exterior mirrors, headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Your last steps: Clear off and dry your wiper blades and make sure your wiper fluid nozzles are clear. If your wipers are more than six months old or they're not clearing the windows properly, it's time to replace them.
Remove the frost from your windows
- Use the smooth side of a plastic ice scraper to clear frost. If it's an especially light coating and you don't have a scraper, a plastic card from your wallet or an old, unusable CD can serve in a pinch. Use vertical strokes and gently push the accumulation down and off the vehicle.
- To lessen or prevent buildup in the first place, you also could use a product specifically designed for this purpose on your windows. Ask your mechanic or the staff at an automotive supply store for recommendations and be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying.
Remove any ice from the windshield
- Use the ridged side of a plastic ice scraper to get ice off the windshield. Make vertical slashes down the window, and then scrape across the window surface to break up the ice into smaller chunks.
- Never pour hot water on a car covered in ice. The rapid temperature change can cause glass to crack or shatter. And don't use a screwdriver, metal key or other sharp item to chip ice away. These can scratch or shatter the glass.
Remove snow from the car
- For fluffy snows, use a snow brush with plastic bristles or a broom to clear windows, followed by a light scrape with an ice scraper as needed. Heavy snows may require clearing snow with a push broom, but don't use your snow shovel or you risk damaging your vehicle.
- Clear snow off the vehicle's roof before you clear the windows, and brush the snow off the front hood and trunk before you head out. Skip this step and big clumps of snow could blow off while you're driving, obstructing your view or that of another driver.
- If vehicles can be kept in a garage or under an overhang, it can reduce snow and ice buildup. If that is not available, covering the roof, windshield, and hood of the car with a snow blanket can allow for easy removal by pulling the blanket away from the vehicle.
Watch for fog buildup on the interior windows
- Sometimes your visibility can be hampered from inside the car. Always keep the air vent set to "fresh" rather than "recirculate,"" which can contribute to foggy windows. Your vehicle's defroster can help reduce the problem, as can opening your windows slightly. For best results, use your air conditioner. Air conditioners are designed to remove moisture from the air, and they can do that job even when the heater is on. Finally, keep a clean microfiber cloth in the car to clear stubborn foggy spots.
- The driver and passengers should shake off as much snow and moisture from their clothes and shoes as possible before entering the car. This lessens the moisture level in the carpeting and upholstery and helps prevent fog buildup.
- Also, clean your interior windows at least once a week during the winter. Over time, film can build up on windows, increasing the potential for fogging. Your local automotive supply store also carries products that you can apply to reduce interior fogging.