The best way to defrost your windscreen
The first in an occasional series of automotive questions that we’re sometimes afraid to ask. By Damien O’Carroll.
As we are all now experiencing, winter is looming large and that means frosted-up windscreens for the majority of the country.
Driving with even a partially iced windscreen is extremely dangerous and more than a little silly... but what’s the best way to deal with that early morning hassle of a frosted over windscreen? Here are a few tips.
It goes without saying that starting the car, winding the heat right up and blasting the inside of the windscreen will eventually do the trick. But that takes time and, more importantly, wastes fuel.
A free and far more eco-friendly option is water. Pouring lukewarm or even room temperature water over the windscreen will quickly melt off a light frost, while a heavier one may require a bit of scraping with a plastic scraper (never use a metal one, as it can scratch the glass).
After you have done this, be sure to turn your windscreen wipers on to clear the excess water so that it doesn’t simply refreeze.
If lukewarm water works well, then hot water should work even better, right? Well, yes and no - while it will melt the ice quickly, the drastic temperature change could cause your windscreen to crack, putting an even bigger dent in your morning. So never, under any circumstances, use hot water.
If you own a Skoda, then it may even have a plastic ice scraper tucked in the petrol flap. If not, they are cheap to buy and a worthwhile investment if you live in a frost-prone area.
If you don’t have one and are caught in a situation where you do need to scrape with something, a credit or debit card (any form of plastic card, really) will do in a pinch; but as we mentioned earlier, never use a metal scraper or kitchen utensil, such as a spatula or BBQ brush.
A hard bristled plastic brush will also do in a pinch.
While commercial de-icer products are available, a homemade blend can do just as good a job. A mixture of 2/3 isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 water (some say with a few drops of dishwashing detergent) sprayed on a frozen windscreen will do the trick, followed, again, by some easy scraping and wiper-use.
One old remedy that surfaces every year is the theory that a similar mix of water and vinegar will defrost a windscreen. This really doesn’t work.
While a water/vinegar mix will stop frost forming if sprayed on the night before, it won’t remove the freeze quickly after the fact.
Which leads us to the simplest and easiest way to ensure you have a clear windscreen in the morning - prevention.
The aforementioned water/ vinegar trick will work (ignore the cries that vinegar can pit your windscreen as it takes something seriously more corrosive than vinegar to damage glass), but an easier option is to simply put an old towel or large piece of cardboard over your windscreen the night before.
Easy, really. But just remember what not to do - don’t use hot water, don’t use metal scrapers and don’t just drive with an icedup windscreen hoping it will eventually melt.
There are plenty of quick fixes for a frozen windscreen. But why not prevent it in the first place?