The dos and don’ts of de-icing your car

As the UK suffers its first cold snap of the year, experts have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for de-icing vehicles.

As the UK suffers its first cold snap of the year, expertshave compiled a list of dos and donts for de-icing vehicles.
As the UK suffers its first cold snap of the year, expertshave compiled a list of dos and donts for de-icing vehicles.

As the temperature drops below freezing, water vapour in the air is cooled, causing frost and ice.

Because windscreens and windows are made of glass, they tend to freeze over much quicker than any other part of vehicles.

The Highway Code clearly states that windows and windscreens must be kept clean and free of obstructions to vision – breaking this rule could result in a fine and points on your licence.

Tim Alcock, from, said: “For many, these points will be common knowledge, but you can guarantee there’ll be someone in the UK trying to use an old ABBA Gold CD to scrape a thick layer of ice from their car this cold snap – resulting in a severely scratched windscreen that will cost hundreds to repair.

“As well as following the advice we’ve compiled here, there are also some preventative measures you can take to save yourself the hassle of having to scrape your car every morning.

“Cover your windshield with a tarp, towel or sheet, and weigh it down to prevent ice from building up. Don’t use this method if we’re expecting heavy snow, however, as it could be difficult to remove underneath inches of the white stuff.

“You could also mix up one-part water to three-parts vinegar and spray across the windscreen and windows the night before. Vinegar has a low freezing point, which makes short work of the frost and perfect for de-icing.

“And if you’ve got a garage, use it. By protecting your car from the elements, you significantly reduce the elbow grease needed to remove ice after a frost.”


Start your car and let it warm up – but stay in the car!

If your car has a ‘defrost’ setting on the temperature gauge, switch it on. It could take around fifteen minutes for the glass to get warm on the inside and melt the ice on your windscreen.

Make sure no ice, snow or other materials are blocking the exhaust pipe.

While your car is warming up, make sure nothing is blocking your car’s exhaust pipe to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Spray your car with a saltwater solution

This will dissolve the ice with a chemical reaction rather than melting it with heat. The ions in salt also lower the freezing point of water, making it difficult for it to refreeze. Apply the solution sparingly, as heavy application could damage the glass.

Use a made-for-purpose ice scraper to chip ice off your windscreen

It’s a good idea to keep one in your car at all times. Put it into the windshield and use short, powerful strokes to chip the ice away.

Keep a bottle of de-icer in your car

They’re available from most garages for a couple of pounds and reduce the amount of effort needed to clear your car in the morning.

Leave plenty of time to defrost your car properly

About 10-15 minutes should do it. Don’t try and drive off if your windows aren’t completely clear.


Start your car and let it warm up – and then leave it

You could risk a £20 fine and three penalty points for leaving your car to defrost while the engine is idling. It also makes you an easy target for thieves, too.

Try to defrost the windscreen using hot, cold or warm water

Using warm or hot water could cause the glass to crack and break due to thermal shock, when the temperature changes really suddenly.

Just make a peephole in the middle of the ice or snow and then drive off

This could result in a £60 fine and three points on your licence for driving with limited vision.