by Jefferson Bryant
As you grab your coat to head out the door, your coffee spills and burns your fingers. You have a half-eaten doughnut in your mouth which hits the floor as you scream from the searing 130-degree beverage scalding your digits. You shake it off and get out the door only to find that Mother Nature has yet again blessed your day with a fresh sheet of freezing rain. Taking each step as if you were a 1920s silent movie burglar, you narrowly avoid a nasty fall on your way to the car. Then you see it. A frozen windshield and you only have 10 minutes left to get to work. Figures.
All of us have had days like these, and a frozen windshield is the last bit of frustration you want when you are having a bad day. As a matter of fact, a frozen windshield can create tons of frustration on a good day. It does not have to be this way. With a little patience and preparedness, you can be in your car and on your way in no time.
Step 1- Fire it up!
Start the engine and crank the heater to full blast with it set on full defrost. Seems like a no-brainer, but when you are running behind, you might not remember. While there is no reason to warm-up a modern engine before driving, there is a trick to getting the heat flowing through the vents a few minutes faster. Rev the engine to 2000-2500 RPM and hold it there for 30-45 seconds. You are not going to damage your engine, but this will get the parts moving to bring the engine up to operating temp faster than if you just let it sit there and idle. If you have an rear-window defroster, turn it on too.
Pro-Tip: Make sure the dash vents are clear. They don’t work if the air is not making it to the glass.
Step 2- Snow-Free Zone
Sweep any snow off the glass. This gets to the foundation of the problem. The ice.
Step 3- Chemical Peel
NEVER use hot water on a windshield to de-ice it, that is a guaranteed way to shatter the glass. Instead, keep a can or two of de-icer in the car. Made of methanol and propylene glycol, this stuff eradicates ice on contact, melting it and making it easier to remove. If the ice is thin, then this may be the only step you need. If the ice is thick, then there are some more tricks.
Step 4- Scrape!
Everyone should keep a good quality windshield scraper in their car. Not a cheapo thin plastic one, but a beefy scraper with a heavy plastic blade. Avoid metal blades as these can damage coated windshields. If the ice is thin, you should be able to chisel it off relatively quickly, but the thicker it is, the harder it will be. Here is where you really need to use both the de-icing spray and the scraper together.
Start by carving a groove in the center of the windshield with the corner of the scraper. Take this all the way to the glass. Next, use the de-icing spray along the groove you just carved. This will allow some of the spray to get between the glass and the ice. Directly after spraying the ice, use the scraper to work under the edge of the ice and it will come off in sheets.
Using these tips you should be able to have your windshield ice-free and your vehicle ready to hit the streets. Drive safe!