While never much fun, at some stage during winter you’ll have to de-ice your windscreen before you can set off. However, by following the right steps you’ll avoid potential driving penalties and save your vehicle from damage.
• Use purpose-made solutions
• Paying the penalty for ‘portholing’
• Avoid defrosting the vehicle in the first place
While putting the kettle on is one of the necessary steps when you’re making a brew, it’s certainly not if it’s been a particularly cold night and your vehicle’s windscreen and windows are covered in frost!
Although if you’re in a rush in the morning, perhaps because you’re running late for the school run, a frozen windscreen is the last thing you want to deal with, care and attention is needed to ensure you drive away with a clear view ahead and behind you.
While using a kettle may appear to be the quick and easy way to solve the inconvenience, it can actually damage your vehicle. The extreme and sudden change in temperature can cause the glass to crack or shatter – then you really will be running late!
Using boiling water is not the only ‘no-no’ when it comes to de-icing the screen, for example, don’t use anything other than a car-specific scraper, as these can damage the surface of the windscreen and potentially cause you injury!
Don’t just rely on your windscreen wipers, as they could be frozen to the screen and the strain on the wiper arms, joints and motor could cause you even more problems. In addition, there are few things worse for the rubber blades than scraping across an icy windscreen, because frost is surprisingly abrasive!
There are plenty of specific accessories, like scrapers and snow brushes, and de-icing products such as liquids/sprays available that will do the job quickly and effectively, just don’t wait until the weather has closed in.
You may also be tempted to start the engine and leave the windscreen and windows to clear by themselves, but if it’s not on your drive, you would actually be breaking the law and risking a fine. That’s because under rule 123 of the highway code: ‘You MUST NOT leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.’
In addition, you leave yourself susceptible to vehicle theft, as seen during an especially cold spell in 2016, when according to the Central Motorway Police Group, six cars were stolen within 30 minutes on one particular day.
That is not the only way you can get into trouble with the police however; not completing a thorough de-icing job could lead to serious and potentially fatal consequences.
Ever heard of the term ‘portholing’? This is when a motorist drives away after clearing only a small patch in the windscreen to see through. If you’re caught portholing, you could face a fine and three penalty points under the CU20 penalty code: ‘Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of use of unsuitable vehicle or using a vehicle with parts or accessories (excluding brakes, steering or tyres) in a dangerous condition’.
If involved in an incident, you will likely be subject to even harsher punishments – particularly if injuries were sustained or, worse, people succumbed to their injuries.
While there are plenty of ways to de-ice your vehicle, there are actually some simple tricks to stop your windscreen from freezing to begin with:
• If you have a garage, use it!
• You can purchase a windscreen cover that will stick to the corners of the windscreen or be held in place by clamping in the doorframes, meaning it’s tight enough to prevent Jack Frost from sneaking in.
• Failing that, an old blanket or even cardboard can do the trick, just as long as it’s nice and tightly fitted.