How to de-ice your windshield

Know-How Notes – How To De-Ice Your Windshield

As you grab your coat to head out the door, your coffee spills and burns your hand. You have a half-eaten doughnut in your mouth which hits the floor as you yelp in pain. You shake it off and get out the door only to find that Mother Nature has yet again blessed your day with a fresh coating of freezing rain. Taking each step as if you were a 1920s silent movie burglar, you narrowly avoid a slapstick fall on your way to the car. Then you see it: a frozen windshield and you only have 10 minutes to get to work. Figures. But fear not as we will show you how to de-ice your windshield with minimal fuss.

Looking through this is not going to work out. Time to scrape.

Looking through this is not going to work out. Time to scrape.

 

All of us have had days like these, and a frozen windshield is the last bit of frustration you want when you are having a bad day. As a matter of fact, a frozen windshield can create tons of frustration on a good day, but it does not have to be this way. With a little patience and some preparedness, you can be in your car and on your way in no time.

 

Step 1- Fire it up!

Crank the HVAC to defrost.

Crank the HVAC to defrost.

Start the engine and crank the heater to full blast with it set on full defrost. Seems like a no-brainer, but when you are running behind, you might not remember. While there is no reason to warm-up a modern engine before driving, there is a trick to getting the heat flowing through the vents a few minutes faster. Rev the engine to 2,000-2,500 RPM and hold it there for 30-45 seconds. You are not going to damage your engine, but this will get the parts moving to bring the engine up to operating temp faster than if you just let it sit there and idle. If you have an rear-window defroster, turn it on too.

Tech Tip- Make sure the dash vents are clear. They don’t work if the air is not making it to the glass.

 

Step 2- Snow-Free Zone

Sweep any snow off the glass. This gets to the meat of the problem. The ice.

If you have a brush on your scraper, you might want to use it to sweep away the snow. Otherwise, just wipe it off as best you can.

If you have a brush on your scraper, you might want to use it to sweep away the snow. Otherwise, just wipe it off as best you can.

 

Step 3- Chemical Peel

Before applying the scraper, fog down the windshield with liquid deicer.

Before applying the scraper, fog down the windshield with liquid deicer.

NEVER use hot water on a windshield to de-ice it, that is a guaranteed way to shatter the glass. Instead, keep a can or two of liquid de-icer in the car. Made of methanol and propylene glycol, this stuff eradicates ice on contact, melting it and making it easier to remove. If the ice is thin, then this may be the only step you need. If the ice is thick, then there are some more tricks.

 

Step 4- Scraper!

Everyone should keep a good quality windshield scraper in their car. Not a cheapo thin plastic one, but a beefy scraper with a heavy plastic blade. Avoid metal blades as these can damage coated windshields. If the ice is thin, you should be able to chisel it off relatively quickly, but the thicker it is, the hard it will be. Here is where you really need to use both the de-icing spray and the scraper together.

Run the scraper across the ice to break up the ice and clear the glass.

Run the scraper across the ice to break up the ice and clear the glass.

 

Start by carving a groove in the center of the windshield with the corner of the scraper. Take this all the way to the glass. Next, use the de-icing spray along the groove you just carved. This will allow some of the spray to get between the glass and the ice. Directly after spraying the ice, use the scraper to work under the edge of the ice and it will come off in sheets.

 

Using these tips you should be able to have your windshield ice-free and ready to hit the streets. Drive safe!

All clear and ready for the drive. Be careful with the wipers, they will likely have ice on them, which can make it harder to see.

All clear and ready for the drive. Be careful with the wipers, they will likely have ice on them, which can make it harder to see.

 

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to de-ice your windshield, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

 

about author

Jefferson Bryant

A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.

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