Dos and don’ts for clearing your car of snow and ice

January 5, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

Are you among the one-in-five Northwest drivers who, like those in a PEMCO Poll, admitted they don't completely scrape their windows free of snow and ice? Skimpy scraping is as common as it is dangerous, even though it could earn you a ticket in Washington and Oregon. Both states mandate windshields be kept free of nontransparent material, which includes frost, ice and snow.

GettyImages-1246938982.jpgThere's a right and wrong way to clear your car. Here are our top dos and don'ts:

►Do allow extra time on cold mornings to thoroughly remove ice and snow.

►Do clear away snow from the tailpipe area, so carbon monoxide won't be trapped and build up in your car.

►Do start your car and turn on the defrosters (using both the heat and air conditioning settings), which will help melt your icy windshield. As you wait for the engine to warm, brush away snow from the roof, hood and trunk, so it won't blow off onto passing cars.

×Don't go back in the house for an extra cup of coffee. Car thieves troll neighborhoods looking for "puffers" on frosty mornings. It's also illegal in Washington and Oregon to leave a running car unattended.

►Do jumpstart your window scraping with a spritz of alcohol water – one part water to two parts rubbing alcohol – to soften the ice. Also use the solution around the wipers to ensure they're not frozen to the windshield. Wipe off any overspray when you're finished.

×Don't use hot water to try to thaw your windshield faster. The sudden temperature change could crack it.

►Do scrape with the correct side of the scraper. If your windshield is heavily iced, start with the chipper-teeth side, scoring the ice vertically and horizontally to break it up. Then, finish with the flat side of the scraper blade. (Here's more than you ever wanted to know about ice scrapers.)

×Don't forget to scrape all side windows, mirrors, headlights, taillights and brake lights.

►Do clear fog from the inside of your windows with a microfiber cloth or, handier still, a clean, dry chalkboard eraser.

×Don't wipe the window with your bare hand or gloves. Oils will leave streaks and contribute to windshield film.

BONUS: These do-ahead hacks can minimize the time you spend de-icing your car:

Prevent doors from freezing shut by spraying the rubber gasket around them with vegetable oil cooking spray (like Pam). Don't substitute WD-40 for the cooking spray, though, because it has a noticeable petroleum odor.

Spray your door lock with WD-40 to keep it from freezing. If it's already too late, you can unstick a frozen lock with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Smear some on the lock and your key. With a little wiggling, you'll be able to coax the lock open.

Cover your wiper blades with old socks before you leave your car for the night. That will keep them from freezing to your windshield by morning.

Cover side mirrors with plastic zipper bags. Secure them with rubber bands so they don't blow off. Take them off in the morning and – ta da! – clear mirrors!

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