Did you know that leaving your car engine running while parked on a public road is an offence? Despite this, many motorists still leave their car running to de-ice it on frosty winter mornings. However, driving off without fully clearing your windscreen can also get you into trouble. Here we explain the dos and don’ts of de-icing your car, including the tools you should and shouldn’t use to get the job done.
Do the Job Properly
Glass freezes over more quickly than other surfaces on your car, and the temperature doesn’t need to be below freezing point in order for your windscreen and windows to freeze over. When you’re in a hurry to get to work in the morning, it may be tempting to do a half-hearted job on clearing your windscreen. This may involve driving without clearing every window or only part of your windscreen, or using the first sharp object you have to hand.
But driving with limited vision can lead to a £60 fine and three points on your licence. If you can’t see out of your windscreen properly, you also run the risk of having an accident. Only clearing the driver’s side of the windscreen, for example, is not enough. It’s worth the extra five or ten minutes it takes to complete the job if it means you’re safer on the roads.
It is also a good idea to clear any thick ice or snow off the car roof – otherwise this could fall down onto your windscreen and block your vision while driving. Make sure your windscreen wipers are working too, and that they’re not frozen or blocked in with the ice. Don’t try to use them to clear the ice as this could damage them.
Don’t forget about your lights, indicators, reflectors and number plates, too – the Highway Code states that all of these must be kept clear.
Don’t Leave Your Car Engine Running
Not only is it illegal to leave your car engine running while parked (leading to a £20 fine and three penalty points), but it also pollutes the environment. Plus, if you turn on your engine and go back inside to continue getting ready, this leaves your car vulnerable to theft. If your doors are open and the keys are in the ignition, this can invalidate your insurance. While it may be tempting to get back into the warm and let your car sort itself out, it isn’t worth taking the risk.
Use the Right Tools
When you’re de-icing your car, it’s important to only use tools designed for the job. Using anything other than a car ice scraper to chip away at the ice (such as a credit card) could lead to a scratched windscreen. Using boiling water to melt the ice instead of de-icer is even more dangerous, as the heat of the water against the cold glass could result in a cracked windscreen.
Always make sure you have an ice scraper and some de-icer in your car so that you’re prepared whether you’re at home or elsewhere. You may also want to invest in a windscreen cover. If you need to drive on a cold morning, check the weather forecast the night before and get up earlier if necessary, leaving yourself plenty of time to defrost your car and get to your destination on time without rushing or taking unsafe measures.