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How to Remove Snow From a Car Without Scratching It

A car buried by a wintry blast.

Snow is a delight for children but can be trouble for adults. Before we can get behind the wheel of the car, we have to scrape all that snow off the vehicle! What’s the best way to remove snow from a car without scratching it?

Snow Removal Basicsice scraper

Depending on how much snow fell, the best way to remove snow from a car is with a combination snow brush/ice scraper. This is ideal when there’s only been a dusting. Start the car, adjust the heater to its highest setting and turn on the defrosters. Back outside the car, first tackle the roof, then scrape the front and rear windows, the side mirrors and the remaining windows. Take care when leaning against your car — your zipper or buttons might scratch the surface. Finish by freeing the hood and trunk, and make sure all light housings are snow-free. Finally, remove the buildup from the bumper. When you’re back inside the vehicle, turn on the wipers. Once you have clear sightlines, buckle up and head out.

How to Remove Snow From Your Car: Going Deep

Managing a dusting is fast work, but what if the accumulation ranges from a few inches to a snowpocalypse? It’s much the same clean-off procedure, just more involved. Helpers are ideal to quickly accomplish the task.

Before you start the vehicle, head to the rear to ensure the exhaust pipes are clear. If they aren’t, free them to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide fumes from entering the cabin. If your doors are frozen shut from ice accumulation, you can pour warm — but not hot — water on the lock before trying to insert your key, but be sure to avoid the glass in the process because it can get damaged. If you have keyless entry or if the door is still jammed, you can pour water on the handle, then gently pull it open. Then you can start the car and activate the heater and defrosters.

Your scraping tools, though, must change. Avoid using a household or garage broom to remove snow because the bristles can scratch the car surface. A snow mover broom with a telescopic extender is a better choice, especially for reaching the top of a truck or an SUV. Only use a step ladder if you have solid footing and don’t lean it against the car.

The pros know that a tough job requires electrified equipment, specifically a cordless leaf blower. A blower makes quick work of snow, although a car brush may be needed to break up the Northeast concrete of alternating layers of ice and snow. If a sheet of ice remains on non-glass surfaces, a firm tap on it with a gloved hand should split it up.

Winter Warnings

Always dress in the appropriate gear when working in frigid conditions. Avoid pointing a hot blower at the glass, and do not dispense hot water on any part of the vehicle. If you do, you risk cracking glass or marring paint. Finally, if you’re working with others, ensure they’re clear of the area when operating power equipment.

Check out all the snow brushes available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on protecting your car in the winter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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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