Even if you don’t live in an area with harsh winters, the right combination of moisture and freezing temperatures is all it takes to end up with frozen windshield wipers. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you should not do: Do not pour hot water over your wipers because you could crack your windshield. Don’t try to pry or force them by hand, and do not turn them on if they’re stuck because you could burn out the motor. Instead, consider one of the following — or a combination of — these ideas to get on the road safely.
Taking Preventative Measures
This would all be easier if it had never happened, right? The obvious solution is to park in a garage if you know snow is coming, but that’s not always an option. A windshield cover will go a long way to make things easier, but even covering just the wiper blades with something as simple as an old pair of socks and making sure to pull the wipers up and away from the windshield while you’re gone will help.
This option requires patience. Turn on your engine and select the defrost setting and turn it to high. While you wait for it to heat up, clear away what you can with a scraper or brush, taking care not to damage the glass or wipers. You’ll probably have to let it run 10 to 20 minutes before it’s warm enough to melt the ice and free your wipers.
Deicing fluid uses chemicals formulated to cut through ice and grime and has a lower freezing temperature than water. The solution also coats the glass to help prevent new ice from forming, but it has limitations. Deicing fluid can be diluted and used in your windshield washer tank, and it’s also sold premixed.
Using Heated Washer Fluid
Are chemical solutions alone not good enough for you? What about hot chemicals? Installing an auxiliary heater — which taps into your existing washer fluid tank and is powered by your car’s battery — lets you heat your washer fluid to provide a quicker melt for extra-cold climates.
Getting Heated Wipers
Of course, heating the wipers themselves is a fast track to unfreezing them. You can get heated wipers, which are a separate product with a heater integrated into the wipers. They’re not an option you can add to existing wipers.
Trying a Shaker
There is a device that mounts at the base of existing wipers and shakes across the windshield when called upon to do so, breaking ice along the way. A shaker can also be useful outside of winter for dislodging leaves and other annoyances stuck in wipers.
In the end, your best bet is to keep your wipers out of the weather, but if that fails, these tricks should have your windshield cleared in no time.
Check out all the windshield wiper products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on frozen windshield wipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.