How to de-ice a car
The only things you should ever use to de-ice your car is an appropriate ice scraper and/or some de-icer liquid. Some drivers appear hell bent on destroying their credit cards by using them to clear ice, but that’s not advisable for many reasons.
Make sure you have a can of de-icer available, and that it’s at least a quarter full. Spray it on the windows and front and rear screens. Start at the top, allowing gravity to help out – the de-icing liquid will dribble down the glass, melting the ice as it goes. You’ll need to use a scraper as well, as de-icer rarely does the whole job.
When scraping, use firm, broad strokes across all the glass. Remove all the scraped ice and snow, and ensure that the windscreen wipers are not frozen. Do not be tempted to just scrape the driver’s-side part of the screen – the police will take a dim view of this strategy.
Never use boiling water to melt the ice on a car. While windscreens are certainly more resilient than they used to be, pouring hot liquid on to frozen glass is unlikely to have a positive effect. The same applies to door locks.
Some people suggest using vinegar instead of de-icer. There are no real benefits to this, while downsides include potentially damaging the glass and paintwork of your car, while also smelling of a chip shop. As with credit cards, avoid using store discount cards to scrape your windscreen – you’ll only get 10 per cent off.
Can I leave the car running and go back inside?
The short answer is no. If your car’s engine is running, you need to be “in control” of it. While the specifics of this requirement might be up for debate, it generally rules out you being in your house having breakfast while your car ticks over outside.
You could find yourself in trouble with the police if you leave a running car unattended. Worse still, you could find it stolen – leaving a car with the key in the ignition and the engine running makes it very tempting to thieves. You may find that your insurance company won’t cover you if you leave the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked, too.
It is possible to switch on the heater and wait for the car to de-ice itself while you sit inside, but this costs time and fuel and is possibly the least environmentally-friendly method.
We’d recommend a spray can of de-icer, a good scraper (ideally with an insulated glove-style grip) and a 10-minute head-start in the mornings whenever the mercury dips well below freezing.
Clearing your car of ice is an important safety check – as well as a legal requirement – that could make the difference between a safe journey and a crash.
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