As winter weather blankets North, Central and parts of West Texas with frozen precipitation this week, many motorists will need to de-ice their windshield prior to driving. There are good and bad methods when it comes to de-icing. It’s important that drivers safely and correctly do this to avoid costly damage and repairs. Here are some tips from AAA Texas on how to prevent and remove windshield ice.
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To remove ice from a windshield, follow these simple steps:
- Start the engine
- Set the heater to defrost
- Adjust the airflow to recirculate
- Move the temperature control to full heat
If your car has an automatic climate control system, simply set it to defrost. If your car is one of the few with an optional electrically-heated windshield, turn it on to rapidly clear ice from the glass.
If desired, apply a commercial glass de-icer spray to the windshield. These products generally contain methanol, which is the best form of alcohol for de-icing. However, like pretreatment sprays, they tend to cost up to $15 per quart and may contain pet-hazardous ethylene glycol.
Some do it yourselfers use a homemade de-icing solution made up of one part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and two parts water. The isopropyl alcohol sold in stores ranges from 50 to 90 percent purity. Higher purity provides a lower freezing point and better de-icing capability. A few drops of dish soap added to the mixture will help coat the ice more evenly. Apply the solution with a spray bottle and, if practical, store it indoors so the added warmth can aid the de-icing process. Alcohol-based de-icing mixtures freeze at around 5 degrees Fahrenheit versus 32 degrees for water.
As the ice begins to melt, use a plastic scraper, the windshield wipers, a rubber squeegee, or a soft bristle brush to remove it from the glass. Never use metal scrapers, which can scratch the glass and damage wiper blades. Another no-no is hot water, which can crack glass by causing thermal shock and result in an expensive auto glass repair. For the same reason, never try to melt ice with any type of torch. Finally, tapping on the ice with a hammer or other tool in an attempt to break it up is just asking for a windshield replacement.
Vinegar-based pretreatments, alcohol-based de-icing solutions and dishwashing soap are not directly harmful to your vehicle’s paint. However, they do remove car wax and over time will leave the finish exposed to the elements and corrosive chemicals such as road salts. Windshield covers soaked in a saltwater solution pose similar concerns. If you use windshield pretreatments or de-icers on a regular basis, keep in mind the need for total car care and periodically wash and rewax any affected areas of the car as weather permits.
It can be tempting to remove the least amount of ice necessary before driving off on a frigid winter morning. However, the proper procedure is to remove ice and snow from all glass on your vehicle. If you cannot see clearly out of the car in every direction you are driving in an unsafe manner and your odds of being involved in a collision go up. In order to avoid bodily injury or a costly car repair, it is best to play it safe and remove all snow and ice.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 63 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.