It may seem obvious, but in the UK it’s the law that you must be able to see out of your windows and your licence plate must be readable. Our blissful summer may have pushed all thoughts of winter from your mind but as the cold weather begins to set in, you may want to read up on how to remove ice from your car before you find yourself in a tricky situation. You can also take steps to prevent ice from building up on your windows and windscreen that can save you precious time. So, to make sure you remain safe in the winter, read our guide below on how to de-ice your car. How To Prevent Frost and Ice on Windshield If you know that a big freeze is on the horizon like the dreaded “beast from the east” that we had a few years ago, you can take steps to protect your car from snow and ice. If you don’t have access to shelter for your car such as a garage, then you can use some simple tricks to stop your windscreen and car windows from freezing up.

  1. Cover your car

Why not invest in a tarp to cover your car when it is stationary? Just ensure that you secure it so it doesn’t blow off (simple bungee cords should do the trick!). This method is good at preventing most ice and snow build-up, but you may still find some ice on your windows and windshield.

  1. Rubbing alcohol or windshield fluid

To prevent your windshield wipers from freezing you can put some rubbing alcohol or windshield fluid into the windshield washer reservoir.

  1. Ice prevention spray

You can either buy a professional ice spray or create your own using three cups of vinegar and one cup of water. Once you have created your ice spray, simply apply a light coat onto your car windows and windshield before you go to bed to prevent the dreaded morning de-icing ritual. Make sure that you don’t apply too much vinegar as this can damage your windscreen and can accelerate rust.

  1. Cover your windshield with a towel soaked in saltwater

If only a light snowfall is expected then you can use a simple trick to prevent your windshield from icing up. Simply soak a towel in a solution of salt and water and then place across your windshield overnight. However, don’t do this if we’re expecting a heavy snowfall as this can make the towel heavy and it can then be difficult to remove. How To Remove Ice From Car Windows & Windshields First things first, if you find yourself with a car covered in ice, never apply hot water onto your windshield as the sudden temperature change can cause your windshield to crack. Instead, you can use one of our methods below:

  1. Warm up your car

If you have time and don’t have a de-icer to hand, you can let your car warm up first and this will melt the ice. Some cars have a defrost setting which you can use. Before you turn your car on, check to ensure that there is no ice blocking the tailpipe and remove any blockages to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you do not begin driving until all the ice has melted and you can fully see through your windshield and windows.

  1. Apply a solution

You can apply either a rubbing alcohol solution or a saltwater solution to your windscreen to melt the ice. Saltwater can prevent the ice from re-freezing whilst you are out and about. However, the saltwater can damage your car whereas a 2:1 rubbing alcohol solution will not damage the car and it has the same effect on ice, melting it and lowering the freezing point of water to prevent it from re-freezing.

  1. Apply a De-icer

If you would rather use a specialised spray, you can pick one up in your local shop and apply as per the instructions on the product.

  1. Use a squeegee

As the ice starts to melt there may be some residue that needs removing from your windows and windshield so that you have full visibility. You can use a squeegee to wipe away this residue easily and quickly.

  1. Ice scrapers

For heavier ice and if you are in a rush, ice scrapers are a great way to speed up the process as you can use it to chip away the ice and break up larger sections.

  1. WD-40 Multi-Use

We don’t recommend using WD-40 on your windows or windshields but you can apply WD-40 Multi-Use to your number plate to not only provide a protective layer to stop it from rusting but to also prevent ice from sticking to it. The unique WD-40 formula repels water and can be used as a rust prevention spray. So, to ensure that you are abiding by the UK law, ensure that your number plate is always readable by applying WD-40 to protect it from rust and ice. Pro Tip: Car door frames, weatherstripping, and locks can freeze in winter making it impossible for you to open your car. If you find you can’t get into your car, you can read our blog on how to stop locks freezing. Now that you know how to both prevent your car from freezing and how to defrost it if it does freeze up, you should be well equipped for the winter ahead! Always remember to make sure you remove any snow on the top of your car before beginning your journey as this can fall onto your windscreen as you are driving and block your view. For more information on How To Winterize, read our blogs on How To Check The Tread On Your Tyres, How To Bleed A Radiator and How To Winterize Your Bicycle. Waking up to a frozen windshield in the morning can throw a spanner in the works, especially if you are in a rush. From chucking boiling water onto the screen to speed up the de-icing process to leaving the car running while you get ready inside are all go-to’s for most people. But what if you’re causing unnecessary damage to your car without realising it? As temperatures are due to drop across the UK as we dive into the winter months, knowing how to de-ice your car quickly will ensure your safety and others on the roads. Plus, setting off without a clear windscreen with less visibility could cost you more than just time. Here we take a look at some simple and effective methods to quickly de-ice your car this winter:

The problem with using boiling water

According to our survey, 12% of the 15,400 participants recorded that they have thrown boiling water over their car to clear the windshield as quickly as possible. Strike one. Not only is the temperature of the water far hotter than the frozen glass and could cause cracks to appear, but it could even shatter the glass completely. What’s more, any boiling water that works its way down across your paintwork could cause further damage by stripping away layers of paint—a costly way to end your morning. But what about lukewarm water? While chucking any water over your car may seem like the best and fastest solution to your de-icing woes, glass expands quickly when even warm water touches it. Then all that freezing cold air that caused ice to build up on your windscreen in the first place causes the glass to quickly contract as it cools down again. During that flexing, the glass can crack, especially if there were already small chips cracks forming on your screen. What’s more, ice is made up of; you’ve guessed it, water. So on especially cold days, the water you’ve just lugged out from your home to defrost your car can turn back to ice before you know it. Plus, warm water freezes faster than cold water! So all that water you have just poured over your car could cause another layer of ice to form on your windscreen and a dangerous, slippery surface on your driveway! Instead, consider the following steps:

Heat up your car

Yes, this may sound like it’s going to take some time, but in reality, once your car starts thawing out from the inside out, your screen will be completely clear within minutes. First, make sure your wipers aren’t on before starting the engine, as it’s pretty likely they will be frozen to the glass. If they are, then the wiper motor could get damaged, or the rubber could completely tear off if they manage to get free from the ice and start wiping. However, make sure you are sat inside your vehicle so that you can monitor how well the warm air is clearing your screen and adjust the temperature nozzles if necessary. Although the temptation is to walk away and leave the engine on – just like the 7% of our survey respondents – you must not leave your car running if you go back indoors as it is an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1998. Enforcing Rule 123 of the Highway Code, the act states: “You must not leave a vehicle’s engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.” If you are caught on a public road or place in England or Scotland with your engine running idle, even if you are defrosting your screen, you could incur a £20 fixed penalty fine under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002. Failing to pay within the required timeframe will double your fine to £40. Within London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), idling could cost you up to £80.

Use a de-icer spray

While your first port of call might be to grab the boiling water (see above!) or a scraper to remove stubborn ice quickly, there are plenty of cost-effective de-icer sprays available that will simply melt the ice on contact without causing damage to your car. You can even make your own de-icer sprays to get you through the winter months. Simply mix combinations of:

  • Water and a teaspoon of salt
  • One part water to three parts vinegar
  • One part water to two parts surgical spirit or alcohol

When using salt, only use sparingly as used in excess can cause damage to your windscreen or your car’s paintwork.

Time to use a scraper!

If you typically use a scraper to clear your windscreen, then you are not alone. According to our survey, 59% of all our respondents regularly use a scraper. However, it’s worth noting that using anything other than a specially designed car scraper will likely damage your windscreen or the other sharp object you chose for the job. Rather than using your scraper straight away, let your car heat up first to soften the ice and remove any easy to move snow with a soft brush. Then using a car scraper, you can start carefully chipping away at the ice to clear your screen. Scraping while you wait for your car engine to warm up will ensure the safety of you and your fellow road users.

While some of you may be blessed with a remote defrosting feature on your vehicle (like the 1% of our survey respondents), there are a few extra windscreen clearing hacks you may want to consider:

  • Install a mini heater:

If you’re prepared to get the ball rolling before you chow down on your breakfast, plugging in a portable mini heater and popping it onto the parcel shelf of the backseat of your car will quickly defrost your vehicle. Although this is more beneficial for those who can park their car outside their front door – you won’t need to switch on your engine, so there is zero chance of an idling penalty!

  • Make use of silica gel packets:

Every time you receive a parcel, keep a small stash of the silica gel bags that you’ll find inside. Each small bag is filled with a substance called silicon dioxide, which is a non-toxic, inert desiccant that dries out moisture. So although these powerful little packets won’t defrost your car, they will help to keep your screen clear from all that extra moisture!

  • Turn on the AC:

Although this sounds counterintuitive, powering up your car’s air conditioning will help dry out the air within the inside of your vehicle faster with the help of the coils in your AC system.

  • Turn off air recirculation:

Winter air is cold, so naturally, it holds less moisture. If possible, cracking open a window or two to let some fresh winter air in will help bring up your car’s absorption capacity and dry out all the saturated air trapped inside.

  • Store your car overnight:

While not everyone has the benefit of having access to a garage, storing your car overnight is the simplest way to avoid de-icing your vehicle.

Don’t break the law

Ensuring your car is roadworthy is your responsibility, and failing to clear your windscreen, side and rear windows before setting off could cost you a £1,000 fine, disqualification and three points on your license. Not only is a lack of visibility a costly mistake, but it’s easily solved in just a few minutes, and the regulations couldn’t be more explicit: Regulation 30 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states:

  • ‘Every motor vehicle shall be so designed and constructed that the driver thereof while controlling the vehicle can at all times have a full view of the road and traffic ahead of the motor vehicle.’ (With some exceptions, such as agricultural vehicles, as long as they comply with specific Community Directives).
  • ‘All glass or other transparent material fitted to a motor vehicle shall be maintained in such condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road.’

Section 6 of the Highway Code states that all windows and windscreens must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision. What’s alarming is out of the 15,400 people we surveyed, 21% admitted to not de-icing their car before moving on. While you may never have faced a fine yourself for poor visibility, the cost of ignoring the regulations is high. Plus, obstruction to your field of vision may have further consequences. You may cause an accident, damage property or worse. Frozen windshields and frosty side windows are a bugbear, especially when you are in a rush. Although the temptation is to always go for the fastest and often the most dangerous solution, de-icing your car the right way is safer for you and other road users. But with a few simple de-icing tricks up your sleeve, you’ll have your motor ready to go in no time. As we begin to experience the frosts of the early mornings and the below freezing temperatures result in water transforming into a glaze of ice over the glass windows of your vehicle, we thought now may be a great time to remind you of the famous do’s and don’ts of de-icing your car. We all know how much of a disappointment it can be to leave your home in the morning whilst in a rush, only to find that each window of your vehicle is covered end-to-end in a thick sheet of ice. There are preventative measures which you can take to lessen the effect of ice setting on your glass each morning, such as covering your windshield up with a weighted towel or sheet to prevent a build-up. Also, if you have a garage – use it! Tucking your vehicle away at night will protect it from the elements outside, keeping it roasty and toasty and ready for your morning commute. However, without taking these measures, there will undoubtably be a sheet of ice covering your vehicle when you step outside come morning time. Here are our list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to safely and correctly de-icing.

DO examine your exhaust pipe

When approaching your vehicle, take a moment to examine the exhaust pipe. A build-up of ice or snow can prevent carbon monoxide escaping the car, and result in it filling the space occupied by the driver and passengers. So be sure to remove any traces of this before switching your engine on.

DO let your vehicle warm up

Many vehicles nowadays have a windscreen de-frost setting, allowing you to sit inside your vehicle with the engine running, staying as warm as possible and warming up the car internally whilst the heated strips through your windscreen get to work to break down the ice.

DO use an official ice scraper

Many drivers often utilise anything that they have on them in the moment to remove the layers of ice from their vehicle, from credit cards and keyrings to CD cases. Both of these risk damage of breakage to themselves and the glass of your windows, resulting in a costly repair or replacement. Made-for-purpose ice scrapers are produced to withstand the force that ice can bear, so with a few short and sharp strokes, you can remove all traces of the ice, allowing your windows to become clear in just a few moments.

DO keep a can of de-icer in your vehicle

If the ice on your windshield appears to be thick, save yourself some time with the ice-scraper and spray a thin sheet of de-icer over all windows of your vehicle. Available for just a couple of pounds at any petrol garage or supermarket, the spray solution works to break down the ice, reducing the amount of time and effort needed to clear the ice completely.

DON’T rush the defrosting process

It should be expected that your vehicle may take around 10-15 minutes to fully defrost, so don’t try to rush the process as this could cause damage to your vehicle or unsafe driving.

DON’T use warm or hot water

It is surprisingly common to see drivers ‘defrosting’ their widows with a bucket of hot water. This is a definite no-go situation. When the temperature of glass dramatically and instantly changes, it has the tendency to crack or smash due to a process called thermal shock. It may seem like a shortcut, but a broken windshield will only halt your journey further and result in a costly replacement!

DON’T partially clear your windows

If you are in a rush, you may find it tempting to clear only a part of your windscreen before heading off on the road. However, as well as this being incredibly unsafe driving and risking causing harm to another driver or pedestrian, this can in fact cost you a fine and three points on your licence. It is a legal requirement to clear all windows before releasing your handbrake and setting off on the road. If you require any further information on how best to de-ice your vehicles this winter, or if you suspect some damage has occurred upon yours which may need a repair or replacement, do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Bromley Vehicle Test Centre where we will be happy to offer you the assistance that you require. Give us a call on 020 8460 6666 today. Emergency contacts

UK breakdown 24/7 helpline

0800 88 77 66 Member or not, we can help – make sure you’re in a safe place before calling. Report online and track your rescue

Or download our app

It’s the fastest way to ask us for help and track our arrival.

Lost car keys?

Call AA Key Assist 0800 048 2800 Mon–Sun 7am–10pm

Wrong fuel in your car?

Call AA Fuel Assist 0800 072 7420 Lines open 24/7

Europe breakdown 24/7 helpline

00 800 88 77 66 55 Or from French landlines:
08 25 09 88 76
04 72 17 12 00 Or from other EU countries and UK mobile phones:
00 338 25 09 88 76
00 334 72 17 12 00

Car insurance claims

0800 269 622 Lines open 24/7

Home insurance claims

To report any loss or damage, you’ll need to call your insurer’s claim line, and have your policy number handy. They’re both shown on your Certificate of Insurance. A claims advisor will help with your claim. New customers

UK breakdown cover

0800 085 2721
Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

European breakdown cover

0800 072 3279
Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Car insurance

0800 316 2456
Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Home insurance

0800 197 6169
Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Driving lessons

0800 587 0087
Mon–Fri 8:30am–8pm, Sat 9am–5pm
New pupil lessons Existing pupil login Breakdown cover

Buy UK breakdown cover

0800 085 2721 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Buy European breakdown cover

0800 072 3279 Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Parts and Garage claims

0344 579 0042 Mon–Fri 9am–5pm, Sat 9am–1pm

Change your breakdown cover

0343 316 4444 Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm Insurance

Buy car insurance

0800 316 2456 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Car insurance claims

0800 269 622 Lines open 24/7

Policy queries

0370 533 2211 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Buy motorcycle insurance

0344 335 2932 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–4pm

Existing van insurance customers

0800 953 7537 Mon-Friday 9am-7pm, Sat 9am-1pm

Buy home insurance

0800 197 6169 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Policy queries

0370 606 1617 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Home Emergency Cover – report an emergency

0800 316 3984 Lines open 24/7 Driving School

Book driving lessons

New pupil 0800 587 0087
Mon–Fri 8:30am–8pm, Sat 9am–5pm
New pupil lessons Existing pupil login

Train to be a driving instructor

0800 316 0331 Mon–Thu 9am–8pm, Fri 9am–5:30pm, Sat 9am–4pm

Join us as a driving instructor

0800 587 0086 Mon–Thu 9am–8pm, Fri 9am–5:30pm, Sat 9am–4pm

AA Driving School enquiries

Customer Services, AA Driving School, 17th floor Capital Tower, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff CF10 3AG Money To protect your personal information, we’ll need to ask you some security questions on the phone before we can help. For this reason we can’t respond to financial queries by email.

Family investments ISA opened after October 2015

0333 220 5069 Mon–Fri 9am–7pm, Sat 9am–1pm

Member Saver / Easy Saver accounts opened after February 2017

0800 917 8612 Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 9am–5pm

Savings accounts opened before 2 September 2015

0345 603 6302 Mon–Sat 8am–8pm

Bank of Ireland credit cards after July 2015

0345 600 5606 Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 9am–5pm, bank holidays 10am–5pm

AA Credit Cards issued before July 2015 by MBNA

0345 603 6302 Mon–Sat 8am–8pm, closed bank holidays

Lost and stolen credit cards

0800 028 8997 Or if you’re outside the 0044 800 028 8997 Lines open 24/7

General enquiries for AA Loans taken out from November 2015

0345 266 0124 Mon–Sat 8am–8pm, Sun 9am–5pm

Arrears or payment enquiries for AA Loans taken out from November 2015

0800 032 8180 Mon–Sat 8am–8pm, Sun 9am–1.30pm Member benefits

Download the app

Downloading our app is the quickest and easiest way to access all of your benefits, including discounts on restaurants, car care, days out and more. Sign in with your membership number and postcode to see your benefits.

Your personal information

You can read our privacy notice, cookie policy and website Ts&Cs when our website is back up. Or you can contact us using the details above. This page and our website use cookies to make sure you get the best experience from your visit. As well as enabling certain features to work better, cookies let us collect feedback and information about how you’ve used the site – so we can keep improving it for you. By using this site, we assume you accept our use of cookies and other similar technologies.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *