How to demist and defrost your car windscreen safely

Friday, 9th October 2020, 4:02 pm
Updated Monday, 12th October 2020, 10:54 am
How to demist and defrost your car windscreen safely (Photo: Shutterstock)
How to demist and defrost your car windscreen safely (Photo: Shutterstock)

While many are still working from home, some of us will soon be battling with early morning ice on our car windscreens.

Although it could be tempting to get the car running and pop back inside into the warmth, or to bring the kettle out to defrost things quickly, you might want to reconsider these methods.

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Here is a fool proof guide on how to tackle the problem of safely defrosting your windscreen.

Don’t use boiling water

Do not use hot water to try and melt ice.

Doing this can risk cracking your windscreen, especially if you already have any chips or small cracks in the glass.

The hot water quickly expands the screen, which will then contract again rapidly in the cold - the laws of physics are against you here.

Run the air conditioning

Get started by turning on your car’s air conditioning.

Gently circulate warm air around the car with the fan system. Using the heated rear screen and mirrors (if you’re lucky enough to have them) will make your job much easier.

Air conditioning isn’t just for the summer weather - the dry air can help keep cold glass mist-free.

Open the windows

Opening the windows ever so slightly - for a few seconds - will help exchange humidity in the car for the dry air outside.

Remember your wipers

A top tip is to remember not to leave your wipers on when frost is forecast.

Windscreen wipers can become frozen to the windscreen, meaning you’re risking damaging the motor if you have them running when they’re stuck.

Don’t try to force them off the glass either. Wait until the ice has defrosted.

Clear all the snow on your car

Make sure to always clear all of the snow off your vehicle.

It’s important to clear snow off so it doesn’t fall from your roof onto the car windscreen, suddenly reducing your visibility while driving.

A soft brush is the best tool to use to remove snow. Also make sure the front grille is clear so there is no risk of your engine overheating, and ensure your lights are clear and working.

Avoid using your hands

Don’t use your hands to demist your windscreen and windows. Instead, use a lint-free absorbent cloth or pad Using your hand will leave greasy smears across the glass, reducing your visibility.

Plus, jewellery, such as a watch, bracelet or ring, could scratch the glass.

How to avoid fines

Remember that failing to properly clear your car of snow and ice can result in fines of anywhere between £20 and £2,500. You could also receive penalty points on your driving licence.

If you’re parked on a public road and have your engine running in an effort to defrost your windscreen, you could be fined for contravening the Road Traffic Act rules on stationary idling.

These enforce rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states, “You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.”

Alternatively, police could also fine you for the offence of “quitting” where you leave a car’s engine running while you’re not in it, essentially meaning you are not in control of the vehicle. This offence carries a £30 fixed penalty notice.

As well as the potential fines, leaving your car running and unattended also puts your car at risk of being snatched by opportunistic thieves. And, if your vehicle is stolen under these circumstances, your insurer is unlikely to pay out.