With winter less than a month away, drivers are being reminded that defrosting cars will become a necessity almost every day. With that in mind, Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support at Bill Plant Driving School, has urged drivers to avoid making “simple mistakes” that can lead to damage.
He said: “When it comes to defrosting your car, there are a few simple mistakes that could lead to accidental damage, so it’s important you avoid these. Before you start your car, be sure to check that the windscreen wipers are off – if they are on and the windscreen and wipers frozen, this could risk damage to both.
“You also want to be careful when demisting your car, don’t use your hands to wipe the windows down as this can cause greasy streaks to be left on the glass which can hinder vision whilst driving, if you’re wearing any rings these could also scratch the glass which isn’t ideal.
“In terms of what you should do to defrost your car, start by turning your car on and directing hot air onto the windscreen, turn on your rear window heaters and any other heaters e.g. heated mirrors, to speed up the defrosting process.
“Don’t leave your car unattended whilst it’s idling, but you can begin to scrape any ice or snow off of the outside of the vehicle – begin with a soft brush to remove any loose snow/ ice and then hopefully by this point the heaters will have loosened the more stubborn ice for scraping it off.”
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Mr Hixon added: “You need to also ensure that any snow on the roof of your car, lights and number plates is cleared to avoid fines whilst driving – if the snow was to fall off the roof of your car whilst driving this can be classed as dangerous/ careless driving.
“If this all seems like a lot of work for a cold morning, a windscreen shield can help with this. Placing a cover over your windscreen can help you avoid having to scrape the ice off your windows, all you’ll have to do is remove the shield and you’re near enough good to go – you do need to make sure the rest of your car is clear from any ice and snow though.”
Drivers have also previously been told by experts that they can defrost their vehicles using common household items such as cooking spray on freezing winter mornings.
Car leasing company Vehicle Contracts suggested that drivers can use cooking spray and hand sanitiser as simple replacements when temperatures drop. Cooking spray can be used to prevent car doors from sticking shut in cold weather, while hand sanitiser can “melt away” ice quickly.
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Experts at Vehicle Contracts said: “Every part of your car’s exterior is liable to freeze and stick in place overnight. If you’re worried about your car doors freezing shut, spray a simple cooking spray along the rubber edges of your car doors.
“Wipe away the excess then close the doors and leave it overnight. In the morning, your car doors should open easily even if the rest of the car is icy!”
They added: “Nowadays everyone tends to have hand sanitiser on them, which makes this particular hack all the more convenient. If you use a manual car key, it’s a common occurrence for the keyhole to freeze over making it impossible to turn the lock.
“If you break the key in the lock, replacement car keys cost up to £250, so it can be a costly issue to solve. One of the key ingredients of hand sanitiser is alcohol, which will cause any ice to simply melt away.
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Cover your keys in hand sanitiser and it should glide in no problem!” A study by the AA found 83 percent of drivers used a proper ice-scraper when clearing their vehicles.
Meanwhile, 63 percent said they used de-icer spray when frost built up. However, Robert Harris, Director of Vehicle Contracts said there was “no need” to splash out on specialist products.
He said: “Most people don’t realise how many household items can be used to improve their driving safety in winter.
“With no need to spend on specialist de-icer products, you can invest in worthwhile winter safety items such as winter tyres, a snow shovel, torch and blanket in case you get caught out by extreme winter weather.”
Experts at Driving Test Success also stressed that drivers can clear their windscreens by simply activating their car windscreen fan.
Turning this to max will cause the ice to melt instantly, meaning drivers will not need to stand in the cold this winter.
In a social media TikTok video, Driving Test Success said drivers can then turn the fan to normal once the windscreen was clear.
The captions said: “Frozen windscreen? Put the temperature on high. Put the front windscreen fan on max. The ice will start to melt from the heat. Wipe away excess water and return the fan to normal.”