As autumn turns to winter, many of our vehicle breakdown cover customers will be readying themselves and their cars for the cold weather ahead.

One of the most common problems faced by motorists in sub-zero temperatures is an ice-covered windscreen – an issue which can cause unexpected delays in getting you and your loved ones to work, school and elsewhere.

But a little preparation can ensure such delays are minimised.

Ensure you have a clear view of the road

Driving with a frozen or partially iced-over windscreen is of course very dangerous, obstructing your view of the road and of other road users.

It is important to clear the ice before you set off, rather than let the car's heat do the job.

If ice has built up on your wing mirrors, this should also be removed.

So, what is the best way to de-ice your car?


What is the best way of clearing windscreen ice?

The most effective way to clear your windscreen of ice is to spray de-icer across the entire sheet of glass, as well as any iced-over side or rear windows and wing mirrors. You should then use a scraper to clear off the residue.

You can pick up spray de-icer for your car and a scraper for a few pounds at your local car store or garage. This is a small investment that could save you time and hassle in the long run.


Is de-icer not bad for my car?

Modern de-icer products are unlikely to cause any damage to your paintwork. 

Whilst this is good news for your car, most de-icers aren’t very environmentally friendly, due to the combination of chemicals used to make them.

It is possible to buy eco-friendly de-icers. However, another solution could be to make your own de-icer for your car.


Homemade de-icer for car: How to make de-icer with a few simple household products

If you don’t have a shop bought de-icer, one alternative is to make your own car de-icing solution.

Add a mixture of one part water to three parts vinegar to a spray bottle and leave on your car windscreen for a few minutes to loosen the ice that has formed.  


What about a saltwater solution to de-ice a windscreen?

It’s advisable not to use a saltwater mix as this could damage the windscreen, as well as collect around the washer fluid nozzles, causing them to block.

Salt can also cause damage to the paintwork of your car.

What are other methods of de-icing your windscreen?

Apply hot water to de-ice your windscreen?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, here at Start Rescue we've heard all manner of solutions to motoring problems – some of them wise, and some of them not-so-wise. Applying hot water to an iced over windscreen falls into the latter category.

There may appear to be some logic in pouring hot water over a frozen windscreen, but we do not advise this approach.


Why shouldn’t you use hot water to de-ice your windscreen?

Attempt to use hot water to de-ice your windscreen and the sudden temperature change can easily crack your windshield, giving you a much bigger and more costly problem.

Hot water can also get into existing cracks then expand as it freezes – potentially creating more cracks.

While first and foremost we advise using de-icer spray and a scraper to de-ice your windscreen, if you don’t have these items to hand then you might apply lukewarm water to the windshield to gently melt the ice.


Can you use cold water to defrost a windscreen?

As with hot water, you should not attempt to de-ice a car windscreen with cold water.

In cold conditions, the cold water can freeze, resulting in that layer of ice on your windscreen becoming even thicker and leaving you with a bigger issue to deal with.


Using your car's heating system to de-ice your windscreen?

While sitting in your car with the engine idling will eventually melt the ice on your windscreen, it will take a long time and waste fuel.

It will also increase wear on your engine.


Can you use your car's wipers to de-ice your windscreen?

It is not advisable to use your windscreen wipers to remove any ice build-up.

This approach is not very effective and – as some of our customers have found – can easily damage your wiper blades.


Can you use plastic cards as ice scrapers?

Some websites suggest using a plastic card such as a gift card to scrape ice off your windscreen. However, the sharp edges of these cards can scratch your glass.

A purpose-made ice scraper is a much better option.

Be prepared: How to prevent your windscreen from icing over?

Preparation is better than cure,

  1. If you have the option, park your car in a garage, under a car port or close to a building to help reduce the amount of frost.
  2. To help prevent your car windows from freezing overnight, also consider covering the windscreen with a towel or specific windscreen ice cover overnight - when you take it off in the morning the windscreen should be clear. Remember to clear the ice from any other screen or mirror though. And don’t use newspaper as this is likely to stick to the glass and cause more problems than it solves.
  3. Alternatively, spraying a vinegar solution on your windscreen and car windows the night before can help to prevent the build-up of ice. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which lowers the melting point of water – preventing water from freezing.


Ice inside my windscreen, what can I do?

How to de-ice your car windows if they are frozen on the inside.

To get rid of ice inside your windscreen, you should follow the same steps that you would take to get rid of condensation from inside your car:

  • If your vehicle has a heated windscreen, switch this on.
  • Turn on your car’s heating system and aim it at your windows. Gradually increase the heat over a few minutes.
  • If you have one installed, use your air-conditioning system to dry the air.


How to prevent ice inside your windscreen

As with condensation, Ice inside your windscreen is often caused by moisture inside your car.

If the temperature gets below freezing, this moisture can freeze causing ice inside your windscreen.

Take steps to ensure damp items are removed from your car, that your car has no leaks and that you place moisture-absorbing items in your vehicle, to help combat issues of ice forming inside your windscreen.


As one of the country's leading roadside breakdown cover providers, here at Start Rescue we know first-hand how important it is for motorists to be prepared; the same is true when it comes to de-icing your windscreen.

We wish you safe and happy motoring this winter.