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How to Deice a Car

A car covered in snow during a winter storm.

If you live in a part of the country that experiences sub-freezing temperatures, winter holds certain challenges for you as a car owner. Frigid weather can cause some parts of your car to freeze, and when you’re getting rid of ice, you run the risk of damaging your vehicle if the task isn’t handled with appropriate care.

It’s important to know how to deice a car in a way that protects vulnerable components. Here’s some guidance to help you manage the job.

Which Areas of My Car Are Vulnerable to Damage During Deicing?

The following areas of the car are most likely to freeze during frigid temperatures, and they’re vulnerable to damage as a result:

  • Windshield — may crack if deicing isn’t handled properly.
  • Door handles — may get scratched.
  • Car door — the rubber that lines the car door may rip or come loose during deicing.

How Can I Safely Deice My Car?

Here are some tips that should help you deice your car in a way that prevents damage:

  • Use your car’s defroster to melt ice from the windshield. After you turn on the car, make sure the heating is set to the defrost function. This will help warm the windshield and should gently melt the ice. Keep in mind, though, that going this route can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes. Make sure to schedule enough time to take care of this task if you expect to face an icy windshield.
  • Thaw the windshield with a deicing spray. Another option for melting ice on the windshield is to use a deicing spray, which you can buy from an auto parts store. Simply spray the solution on the windshield, and ice will loosen and melt in a matter of moments. Once the ice has been loosened by the spray, use your gloved hands or an ice scraper to clear the windshield.
  • Thaw frozen car doors and door handles with cold or lukewarm water. To melt ice from a frozen car door or door handle, simply apply the water to the frozen surface, which should soften the ice. At that point, you’ll be able to remove the loosened ice by wiping it away with your gloved hands, a rag or a plastic ice scraper.
  • Use a deicing spray to remove ice from car doors and door handles. The same deicing spray that works on your windshield can also dislodge ice from your car doors and door handles. Just spray the solution on the affected area, and let it do its job.

Some Final Tips

  • When you deice your windshield, car doors or door handles, never use hot water. When hot water is poured on a frozen windshield, window or mirror, it can cause the glass to crack.
  • Never use a metal object to remove ice from the door or handles, as this could scratch the paint or otherwise damage your vehicle.
  • When you’re removing ice from the door, be careful to avoid damaging the rubber seals that line the door frame, or else you could be left with leaks.

Now that you know how to deice your car safely and properly, you can ensure that your car remains damage-free as you tackle this most common winter challenge.

Check out all the winter essentials 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 deice a car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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