How to prevent frost, defrost your car and deter opportunist thieves

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You’d think, given how cold Britain gets, we’d know how to safely de-ice our cars.

With frosty mornings set to return this week clearing the windscreen is a must. It’s illegal to drive with vision distorted.

So how do you make sure you don’t end up with a frosted up windscreen?

There’s a few preventative measures you can take – and if you’ve left it too late there’s plenty of tips as to how you can clean the screen as quickly as possible.

See below for a guide to defrosting before thieves take advantage of you leaving your can idle and running.

How to stop your windscreen freezing

Prevent your screen icing up

  • Rub a raw onion half on your windows and windshield the night before a big freeze. This strange car trick will keep frost from forming on the glass.
  • You can also spray it with vinegar or alcohol mixed with water to avoid frost. Try a 1:2 ratio of water to alcohol.
  • Cover your windshield with rubber bath mats or a folded sheet – don’t forget the carrier bag to put it in once you remove it. Use your windscreen wipers to keep it in place.
  • If its the blades freezing rub them with alcohol – it keeps them from sticking to the window.
  • You can also use night-before de-icer to make your life easier.
  • Bonus tip: Cover your side mirrors with carrier bags the night before and secure them with rubber bands to stop them from freezing.

What not to do

  • Do NOT use newspaper as it’s too thin and can freeze onto the windscreen.

  • Do NOT use boiling water or a scraper – one can just freeze again and the other can scratch your screen. You don’t want to damage your car.

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Travel advice in winter

How to defrost – and deter opportunist thieves

Unfortunately, opportunist thieves come out to play when commuters are defrosting their windscreens. On a particularly cold day in November 2016, a car was stolen every five minutes as motorists left their motors running unattended.

There were reports of numerous thefts across the country. There were numerous reports in the Birmingham Mail, while Cumbria Constabulary said a van driver in the town returned to find an empty parking space having gone inside to fetch hot water.

Dean Hill, AA AutoWindshields technician of the year, said modern cars are very difficult to steal without keys, but added: “To car thieves, frosty mornings are a gift.”

Woman looking through windshield with ice
It’s best to clear the whole windscreen when driving, otherwise you might crash

Fortunately, the AA has a handy guide for drivers. The seven-step plan makes for a quick de-icing, so people can be on their way.

The first rule to remember – after turning the car on and warming the windscreen up from inside with the hot fan – is to stay clear of using water, hot, cold or otherwise.

Instead, us a salt solution, commercial de-icer, or alcohol. Having a good scraper is also crucial.

It’s also worth taking preventative and ongoing measures overnight, such as covering your windscreen and filling your car’s water reservoir with some alcohol.

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Cold weather advice

Here are a few points from the AA you should consider when defrosting:

Frost is an annoying winter occurrence that must be dealt with

1. Stay with the car all the time – if you must go back indoors switch off and lock the car.

2. Do not drive off until all of the glass is clear

3. Remember not to leave wipers in ‘auto’ when frost is expected – if wipers are frozen to the glass the wiper motor could be damaged. Don’t try to force frozen wipers off the glass

4. Never use just-boiled water to clear glass – it could crack the glass, freezes quickly and could ice your wipers to the glass

Winter has arrived, and winter is cold

5. Clear all snow off the car, a soft brush is effective – making sure the front grille is clear (otherwise there is risk of the engine overheating). Make sure lights are clean and working

6. Air conditioning isn’t only for summer – it will help to dry the air and keep cold glass mist free.

7. Don’t use your hands to wipe misted-up windows – you’ll leave greasy smears and a diamond ring could scratch the glass. Use a lint-free absorbent cloth if necessary.

How to clear your screen without using chemicals

Ken (Weathers, remember), works at Kate ABC News in Knoxville, Tennessee. He’s shared his tip for getting rid of ice and frost from the windshield of motors.

Ken takes two parts rubbing alcohol (ethanol) and one part water, then mixes the two in a spray bottle.

That’s it – so simple! Ken’s also made a handy video to explain a little further.

You can also use a solution of salt and water for affected areas.

Why does frost form on cars?

The temperature doesn’t have to drop to below freezing for frost to form.

When you switch off your car the temperature inside the car drops. The ground temperature can be colder than the air around it, and the glass tends to cool quicker.

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