Six Thrifty Tips to Thaw your Car

by - Monday, January 07, 2013

January. The time of year when we begin to dread the snow we know will come sometime before the end of next month.

Personally I dread the thought of running late for the school run, only to find my car is frozen solid and I can't even get the key into the door lock to let us all in out of the cold!

Unfortunately I'm not among the privileged car owners with access to a garage, and often forget to take my cans of de-icer back into the house with me... So I've learned a few thrifty (and fairly speedy) tips to thaw my car in the winter months which I hope Glamumous readers may find useful on icy days.

1. Prevention is better than cure!

Though I'm probably preaching to the converted in saying this, if you have a garage or shelter available for your car, remember to use it! 

Many families I know use their garages to store unneeded household items rather than to house their car. If you're one of those families, have a clear out while the weather is not so bad and make room for your vehicle in the process.

If you don't have shelter, can you acquire a piece of tarpaulin (or similar material) to cover your car windscreen on icy nights? By preventing ice and snow from building up on your windscreen, you'll only need to demist the inside come the morning rush. Don't use old carpet though - I've read of others who've tried this only to find the carpet fibers stick to the screen which can quickly cause the glass to crack!

Quick tip: if you cover your windscreen and your car is parked on a public road, be sure to turn up a corner to ensure your tax disc is visible, just in case a DVLA van happens to drive by!

2. Use lukewarm water instead of chemical de-icer spray

Fill an empty 4 pint milk bottle (or 2 litre drinks bottle) with lukewarm water and pour over the windscreen. Switch on the wipers (or use a window squeedgie if you have one) to wipe away the liquid as soon as possible so that it doesn't re-freeze.

Make absolutely sure the water is only lukewarm - hot water can crack your windscreen! A good tip is to fill your bottle with warm water from the tap and leave it overnight to cool to room temperature. Leave it by the front door so you won't forget it as you're rushing out to school or work!

3. Cooking oil can stop your door seals from sticking

Wipe a little cooking oil around the rubber door seals of your car with a little kitchen paper to help prevent them from sticking during the overnight freeze. Cooking oil spray is good too!

4. Use hand sanitizer to unfreeze door locks

Most gel-based hand sanitizers have a high alcohol content which melts ice almost instantly. If your car door locks are frozen, squeeze a little along your key and try again - with a little jiggle you should find the ice melts and you can finally get into the car

5. Hot water bottles help de-mist the windscreen

Rather than waste time (and petrol) running your car with the heater on, get a couple of cheap hot water bottles and place them on the dashboard (making sure the bottles don't touch the glass to prevent it cracking). 

Once the screen is clear, the bottles can be used to warm your laps until the car gets warm during your journey!

6. Don't have an ice-scraper? Use an old loyalty card!

Personally I prefer using old loyalty cards to traditional scrapers for getting rid of stubborn ice - particularly when de-icing wing mirrors. I've also been known to use scratched CDs, though with these you will need to be more careful not to scratch the windscreen!

Do you have any tips to add?

I've also heard that vinegar solution is good for preventing ice (and defrosting if it's already frozen) but haven't tried it on my own car - is it any good or does the vinegar rot the seals?

If you have any further thrifty tips to add to this list, or can help with the vinegar dilemma, please feel free to leave a comment below. 

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