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Winter Windshield Protection Tips & Tricks

Under a blanket of snow

Winter presents numerous challenges to your car, especially for the windshield. Wipers that are frozen in place, thick ice covering the glass and a heater that just can’t seem to defrost the windshield are among the problems you may encounter over the next few months. Beyond using an ice scraper, here’s how to provide proper windshield protection all winter long.

1. Choose Your Windshield Washer Fluid

Assuming you live where temperatures regularly fall and stay below the freezing mark, you’ll need to choose a seasonal blend of windshield washer fluid to keep the fluid from freezing. Choosing a winter blend, one comprised of water and methyl alcohol (methanol), can keep the washer reservoir from freezing.

Indeed, washer fluid containing 38 percent methanol is certified not to freeze to temperatures to -35C (-31F). Fluids containing 50 percent methanol won’t freeze until temperatures fall to -50C (-58F). Thus, a winter blend will offer superior protection by keeping your windshield clear when you utilize it.

2. Invest in Good Wiper Blades

Iced over windshield.Using the right washer fluid isn’t enough. It’s essential you have wiper blades that accomplish the job without streaking or otherwise making it nearly impossible to look outside your windshield.

How often should you change your wiper blades? Certainly, as often as needed, but typically twice per year. Consider winter wiper blades, which are designed to resist harsh conditions. Such blades encase the metal framework in a metal boot, engineered to keep snow and ice from clogging the wiper assembly. Specifically, higher quality winter wipers include heavy-duty frames and stiffer blades, crafted to remove heavy snow and help cut through ice.

3. Consider Your Defroster

You can have the right blend of washer fluid and winter blades installed, but that’s just two-thirds of what’s required to keep your windshield clear. Accordingly, if the defroster doesn’t work, your vision will remain obscured.

Inspect your defroster to ensure it’s working properly before winter sets in. You need to consider a number of problems that could be causing a malfunction, including a stuck knob, a blown fuse, frayed wires, a broken harness connector, not enough anti-freeze or a malfunctioning heater core. Find the problem and you’ll be adequately positioned to battle winter’s worst.

4. Avoid Other Problems

With your washer fluid, wipers and defroster in top condition, you have what it takes to fight winter weather, right? Not so fast: Your careful plans may be all for naught if you fail to take a few extra steps in response to changing weather conditions.

Sheltering your vehicle in a garage or underneath a carport will protect it from the elements. If neither option is possible, keep your blades in an erect position when parked to prevent freezing to the windshield. You can also cover your windshield with floor mats or bath mats the night before a significant freeze or snowfall. Simply remove them before driving off and you get to avoid scraping.

Moreover, if you have remote access to the car by way of your smartphone, activate the heating system 10 minutes before you enter and you may avoid using an ice scraper altogether. Winter will soon pass and the promise of a spring renewal should encourage you to make it through the season.

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 additional information on windshield protection, 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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