Windows redux: Tackling the problem of ice
Winter weather can turn a clear windshield into a crusty layer of crystal white. It doesn't take long for ice to form in cold weather, and patches of ice can become dangerous obstructions.
"Even a little bit of frost can become glare if your car faces the sun," said Ken Gaynor, product manager for Prestone Car Care. "Suddenly, you won't be able to see a thing."
According to Gaynor, preventing frost or removing ice is a snap with the right precautions and some of the latest remedies. Prestone has studied the affects of ice and cold on automobiles since 1927, when it introduced an antifreeze /coolant made with pure ethylene glycol.
Gaynor said he's heard just about every de-icing or ice prevention method. Some folks place a sheet of plastic over the windshield, but that tends to accumulate dirt and grime which transfer to your clothes. Other people try a sheet of carboard, which deteriorates and falls apart. Both methods blow away during wind and blizzards.
"And never pour a pan of hot water on your windshield to clear the ice," Gaynor said." It may crack the glass and lead to even more ice formation."
What then? Gaynor shared his thoughts on ice prevention and removal:
- Warm up your car before driving off. Wait until the windshield is completely clear. "Some drivers try to steer through a small clear spot on the windshield. Allow yourself some time in the morning to use the defroster."
- Don't pour hot water on cold glass. It may lead to cracking and "you're just adding more of what you don't want on the windshield." And you may scald yourself.
- Don't turn on the windshield washer. It will simply refreeze unless you've added a low temperature, de-icing windshield washer or additive meant for extreme environments. One caution: Products designed for harsh environments often are restricted in milder climates.
- Buy a scraper designed for de-icing. These products are made with hardened plastic to prevent breaking and are safe on automobile glass, Gaynor said. Avoid using your keys and other metal or sharp objects that scratch. Some de-icing products include a scraper on the lid.
- Score or notch the ice before scraping.
- Keep some de-icing spray handy for quick removal. A new class of spray products prevents ice formation overnight. You apply it before bedtime and wake up to a clear windshield.
"The key is visibility," Gaynor said. "Even a partially blocked window diminishes your ability to drive safely."