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The do's and don'ts of de-icing your car

calendar Published on: Wednesday, 17th January 2018 | male icon Author: Kevin Thorpe

Spending time clearing your car of ice and snow on a cold morning might not exactly be your idea of fun, but itís important that you make the effort to do this right. Failing to de-ice your car properly could result in a range of problems, from points on your licence to an accident on the roads. So, to ensure you know what youíre doing when it comes to this important task, here are the dos and doníts of de-icing.

DO clear your windscreen thoroughly

Especially if youíre in a rush to get on the roads, you may be tempted to take shortcuts when it comes to removing ice - such as only clearing the driverís side of the windscreen. However, doing this could land you in big trouble. Firstly and most importantly, not clearing all of the windscreen restricts your vision and could increase your chances of being involved in an accident. As well as endangering you, this could put other road users at risk. 

Secondly, not clearing your entire windscreen could mean you get three penalty points on your licence and a fine of £60. By law, you are required to have full view of the road and traffic ahead of your car. If youíre spotted by the police driving with a partially obstructed view, you may receive a fixed penalty notice. Bear in mind that as well as making sure your windscreen is clear, youíre required to clear your mirrors, lights and side windows. 

Using a dedicated ice scraper will help to speed this process up, but you should give yourself around 10 minutes to clear your car. Itís also worth lifting your wipers before you set off to make sure they arenít frozen to the windscreen. If they are and you switch them on while driving, you risk burning out the motor or tearing the blades. 

De-icing sprays come in handy when youíre clearing your car, so itís worth stocking up on some before spells of cold weather. If you donít have one of these sprays, you could use a solution of water with a teaspoon of salt mixed in, or a solution of three parts vinegar to one part water.

DON'T leave your engine idling

You might decide to leave your engine idling on a cold morning to demist your windows and make your car warm. This can be a mistake though. Leaving an engine running in a parked car on a public road is an offence under Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. If you donít turn your engine off when instructed, you could receive a fixed penalty notice of £20. 

Although there are no rules stopping you from idling on private land, such as on your driveway, itís generally not a good idea to do this either. As well as being bad for the environment and costing you money in fuel, leaving your engine running with your key in the ignition is a security risk. If your car is unattended with the engine on, itís a prime target for thieves.

DO clear any snow from your roof

Once youíve removed any ice and snow from your windows, lights and mirrors, you might assume youíre good to go. In fact though, if there is snow on the roof of your car, you have to clear this too. This is because thereís a risk that the snow will slide onto your windscreen while youíre driving, obscuring your view, or it could fly into the path of other motorists. 

As well as being dangerous, this may result in you being fined and getting points on your licence. If snow from your car roof slides off while youíre on the roads, you could be penalised for the offences of Ďusing a motor vehicle in a dangerous conditioní or Ďdriving without due care and attentioní. Also, if youíre in an accident and snow from your roof is a factor, you might find that your insurance policy is invalidated. 

So, even if youíre only planning to take a short journey, itís always important to make sure your roof is free of snow.

DON'T use boiling water or a credit card to de-ice

If youíre not prepared for cold weather and you donít have a scraper or de-icing spray, donít make the mistake of improvising by using boiling water. When very hot water comes into contact with the freezing cold windows on your car, it could weaken the glass and potentially even cause it to crack. Using credit cards or other thin plastic cards to scrape ice away is also a no no. As well as the risk of these cards snapping, clearing ice in this way can scratch your windows. 

So that you donít have to resort to improvised ice clearing techniques, itís best to ensure you always have at least a good ice scraper and ideally also a de-icing spray to hand. Keep these important winter accessories in your car rather than leaving them at home too as on very cold days, your vehicle may ice up again if you leave it parked for a long time - for example if you take it to work.


From making sure your windscreen, side windows, mirrors and lights are free of ice to sweeping snow from your roof, getting your car ready on cold mornings can take a while. This means itís important to give yourself extra time. As a general rule, you should try to factor in at least 10 to 15 minutes to get your car ready. Itís also worth being aware that because driving conditions on very cold days tend to be worse, you should give yourself more time to complete the journey itself. If you set off in a rush, youíre more likely to take unnecessary risks and be involved in an accident. To help you stay safe on the roads whatever the conditions, you may want to invest in a set of all weather tyres (also known as all season tyres). Find out more about these tyres by browsing our website or contacting our expert team.

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