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Are you de-icing your car windscreen properly?

As a layer of frost sets over the country – and your car – we take a look at the best way to de-ice your car windscreen, and offer some vital winter driving tips to stay safe

You’re freezing cold, late for work, and now your car resembles an ice cube. There is nothing worse than waking up to a frozen windscreen on an icy winter’s day. Find out how to clear it quickly and safely.

From scraping the ice off with a credit card to covering the windshield with salty water, everyone has their ‘fail-safe’ way of tackling a frosted windscreen. But what’s the best method for your car?

We asked how you de-ice your windscreen via an @whichcar Twitter poll, and this is what you told us:

A huge 70% of voters went for the trusty ice scraper as their weapon of choice for de-icing their car. Did they get it right? Scroll down to watch our video on the best way to rid your windows of ice quickly, and for our top tips on winter driving.

The cold weather can play havoc with your engine. Don’t be caught out in the cold – make sure you’re covered by one of our top breakdown providers for 2018. 

How to de-ice your windscreen

  • If you’ve got a fancy car, make use of any remote start or warm-up features it has.
  • Start the car as soon as possible to allow the engine to warm and produce hot air for the cabin. Ensure the blowers are pointed at the windscreen, rather than at your feet.
  • Do use a scraper or a plastic edge to remove ice from glass areas. Be careful along the edges, as you may risk damaging paintwork or seals.
  • Use de-icer if you have it.
  • Ensure your windows are completely clear before setting off. Peeking through a makeshift porthole is dangerous and illegal.
  • If there’s snow on your roof, bonnet or boot, remove it or it will blow off. This could be dangerous or distracting to other road users, or fall on to your windscreen when you brake, blocking your view.

Although there are other methods for removing the ice, they could damage your car. Steer clear of hot water – the extreme change in temperature can weaken the glass and cause it to crack.

If you want more control over your car when the temperature drops, why not try a set of new winter tyres? We explain how winter tyres work. 

Things to avoid while de-icing your car windscreen

  • Don’t use an abrasive surface to remove the ice from your windscreen, as you risk causing scratches that will hinder visibility.
  • Don’t pour boiling water on to your windscreen. The sudden temperature change will weaken the glass and cause it to crack. It is illegal to drive a car if there’s a crack in the driver’s line of vision.
  • Don’t be tempted to use the wipers until the bulk of the ice and snow is removed. Attempting to start wipers that are frozen stuck or jammed by snow may cause damage to the mechanism.
  • Don’t leave the car unattended while it’s warming up.
  • Don’t drive off aggressively – just because the window’s defrosted, it doesn’t mean your car will be up to operating temperature.
  • If you have an electric car, not only will the cold weather adversely affect the charge, but using ancillaries to defrost it will also sap available power. If you know a cold snap is on the way, make sure the battery is as full as possible when you need to use it.

Are you thinking of buying an electric car? Don’t get caught out by a car with a short range –  we reveal the best electric cars.

How to drive safely in the winter

  • Use higher gears. Pull away in second, rather than first gear. This reduces the chances of spinning the wheels and digging yourself into a rut.
  • Be very gentle with the clutch and throttle.
  • Apply the brakes very gently. Braking sharply can lead to a skid, at which point you’ve lost control of your car. If the wheels lock, release the brakes before re-applying them.
  • Be very gentle with the steering. In these conditions, your tyres won’t be able to grip as well while turning.
  • Use major routes where possible – these are much more likely to have been gritted and, usually, the higher traffic volumes help prevent snow from settling.
  • Above all, reduce your speed. The car will be easier to control, and you’ll have much more time to react to developing situations.

If you regularly drive in colder conditions, a quality SUV 4X4 could be the car for you. Take a look at our Best Buy 4x4s and large SUVs that have aced our rigorous tests. 

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