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5 Tips for Deicing a Windshield and Clearing Off Your Car

blizzard buried car

After a winter storm has ended, you probably have to dig out your car, and this means bundling up and heading outside with your winter tools in hand. Here are some of the best strategies for clearing off your car and deicing a windshield:

Icy windshield in the winter1. Clear the Exhaust Pipes

If the snowfall was particularly heavy, your exhaust pipes may be blocked. You don’t want deadly carbon monoxide wafting into the cabin when the car is running, so use a shovel to clear the obstruction. Do the same with the front end if the radiator is blocked.

2. Get the Car Going

Before you start scraping, you should start the car. Almost all new cars have automatic locks, which allows you to open the doors with a click of your key. However, if you drive an older car, you’ll need to insert the key in the door lock — but the slot may be frozen. If you suspect this will be the case, bring out a lock deicer solution. Spray the deicer in the slot, and your door will open as if by magic.

Once you get your car going, turn on the heat, as a warm interior makes it easier to scrape away ice. Put the air on high, and activate the front and rear defrosters.

3. Start Scraping

With an ice scraper in hand, begin the process of clearing your windshield. If you remembered to raise your wiper blades before the storm arrived, the process will move faster. If not, carefully work around the blades. If you don’t have an ice scraper, you can made do with an old plastic gift card, membership card, or even a credit card. It will take longer and won’t help with thick ice, but for light frost it works just fine.

4. Find a Deicing Helper

You may be thinking that there must be a better way to remove thick layers of ice. There is! Using a homemade liquid solution that you can apply directly to the glass is most likely your best bet. Your first thought may be hot water, but that’s not a good idea, as it can crack your windshield. People often try to use rubbing alcohol because its molecular structure drops the freezing point of water to negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

But the best solution to use is a mixture of salt and beet juice. This sweet and salty blend sticks to the windshield and dissolves ice evenly and quickly, allowing you to complete your winter cleanup in minimal time. However, if the thought of beets or mixing your own deicing brew holds little interest for you, there are commercial windshield deicer products available as well.

5. Using a Deicing Solution

If you’re going to use a solution to speed up the deicing process, pour your liquid of choice into a spray bottle. Spritz it evenly onto your icy windshield, then scrape as usual. It’s as easy as that.

Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on deicing a windshield, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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