Someone cleaning icy windscreen wiper

Winter windscreen ‘hacks’ to steer clear of

8th Dec, 2023

With temperatures still plummeting, it’s becoming more and more common to wake up to find you’ve got to de-ice your car. It’s one of those irritating jobs that needs to be done before you start driving (no matter how many other people you see out on the roads who might seem to think otherwise). And with the extra time involved, it’s understandably tempting to try out time-saving hacks that you may have spotted in places (TikTok is a big hub for that at the moment. 

But those hacks can actually cause bigger issues in themselves – not necessarily enough to scrap your car, but certainly enough to cost you a lot of money and time if they go wrong. The first one of these supposedly time-saving tricks is one that’s been around forever: the idea of pouring hot water on your windscreen to melt ice. Essentially, don’t do that. Here’s why!

Why you shouldn’t use boiling water to melt ice on your car

It seems simple enough in theory – warm water melts ice, so it stands to reason that hot water melts ice even faster. A bucket of that on the windscreen and you’re good to go, right?

Well, not quite. Hot or boiling water on your windscreen has a good chance of damaging it, and may even crack the glass. We’ll save you the detailed physics lesson, but essentially, that’s because a rapid shift between extreme temperatures creates thermal shock, which puts huge pressure on the glass. (If you’ve ever heard the medical advice not to put cold water on a burn – the same basically applies here.)

Even if your windscreen survives the thermal shock, the water may even freeze again on the glass – so at best, it’s often just perpetuating the issue. 

Potatoes, onions, and other cold-weather ‘hacks’ to avoid

The internet is a wonderful thing – you’re using it now, after all – but a lot of the newest cold weather hacks and trends that you so often hear about often originate on social media, and that’s not always the best place to get motoring advice. Let’s be honest, TikTok can be the worst offender. 

So, for example – and this should go without saying – whatever TikTok says, don’t smear half a potato over your windscreen at any stage. Nor should you do anything similarly weird with an onion. The (weak) arguments for doing so generally have something to do with the sugar creating a barrier over the window that will prevent the ice from forming. This is, to use the polite phrase, complete tosh. Pibble and poppycock. Nonsense. At best, it is completely pointless. At worst, you end up with a smeary mess all over your windscreen that’s difficult for your wipers to remove – so actually compounds the problem.

By the same token, some accounts advise putting cooking oil on your windscreen the night before to prevent snow and ice from forming, but it doesn’t.

Essentially, don’t use anything not specifically designed to remove snow and ice from your windscreen, such as your credit card for example, or your keys, or a garden implement. You could easily end up scratching your windscreen – or even shattering it.  

The most effective way to remove snow and ice from your car

The best way is the one you probably knew already – just turn on your car’s engine, and switch on the heater, and direct it towards the windscreen. Make sure to activate the rear windscreen heater too, and use it in combination with your car’s air conditioning to ensure that your windows don’t fog up. 

While that’s all happening, clear the snow with a soft brush, and then use a scraper and de-icer on the windscreen. By that time, you should be literally good to go. 

All the TikTok hacks in the world won’t be more consistently reliable than these systems. They’ve all been specifically designed to help your car deal with frost, and they’ve been standard features for decades. They might not be the quickest, but they’re definitely always the safest! 

Of course, sometimes the snow and ice can do a real number on your car – and if you decide it’s not worth it to fix the bigger types of issues (such replacing a dead battery), that’s exactly where we can help here at Scrap Car Network. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll get you an instant online quote before you can say cash for cars. It only takes a few seconds. Curious to find out how much your car is worth? 

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