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How to clear your icy windscreen

Last updated: 25/11/20

It can be pretty inconvenient to get into your car in the morning, only to realise that overnight your windscreen has become covered in a thick, impenetrable layer of ice. In fact, it’s actually illegal to drive with poor visibility as stated by the Highway Code.

Not only that, but it can also take ages to chip the ice off if you don’t use the correct techniques for de-icing your windscreen – and once that’s been done, you’ve got the pesky mist to worry about obstructing your view!

To help you prepare for colder weather, RAC have put together some top tips for clearing your windscreen.

1. Place a cover on your windscreen

This is an easy one, but it can be incredibly effective at stopping ice forming in the first place.

Before you head to bed the night before, save yourself time in the morning by placing a cover on your windscreen overnight, making sure the entire windscreen is covered.

You can purchase specialist ice protection windscreen covers, or simply place a blanket over the windscreen.

2. Keep a bottle of de-icer in your car

You can purchase de-icer from most garages, so it’s worth keeping a bottle in your car just in case. All you need to do is spray some de-icer on the outside of the frozen windscreen, and use a scraper (not a bank card or CD case, as this can damage your belongings or scratch your windscreen) to wipe away any excess water or ice.

And if anyone tries to trick you into believing that sandpaper is the most effective method of removing ice – don’t fall for it!

3. Don't reach for the kettle

Although it might seem logical to de-ice your car using boiling water from the kettle, it’s important to use de-icer instead. Pouring boiling water over your frozen windscreen can cause thermal shock (when the temperature goes from sub-zero to nearly 100 degrees celsius in a matter of seconds) which in turn can crack your car windows.

4. Whack on the heat

It’s likely that, whilst de-icing your windscreen, you’ve left your car heaters running to aid the melting process and make sure you have a nice warm car to get into. However, this also causes mist to build up on the inside of the windows. When using the heater, start off cold and slowly increase the temperature to prevent misting.

5. Wait until your car is fully defrosted

Don’t move off until all of your windows are free of ice, snow and condensation to ensure you have full visibility.

Although wiping the inside of the windscreen with a cloth might bring short-term relief from misting, it will likely leave marks on your windscreen making it harder to see as you move off. As above, use the heater to slowly increase the temperature inside the car. If you don’t have air-con or climate control, use your windows to adjust the temperature of the car and demist your windows.

This post was contributed by RAC. The RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists and are committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

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