De-icing tips for your first winter on the road

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

How to de-ice your car isn’t something that many learners cover in their driving lessons, especially if they learned to drive in the summer months. If you find your car frozen solid, don’t worry, we’ve got some handy tips that’ll get you on the road in no time.

1. Chemical warfare

You can prevent ice from sticking to your windscreen by covering it in pre-icing spray in the evenings. It’s widely available and quite cheap, but you’ll use a lot of it over the course of the chilly season.

2. Tuck your car in for the night

If you’d prefer to prevent ice without using chemicals, just get an old towel or blanket and lay it over your car’s windscreen (tucked under the wipers) before you go to bed for the night. As long as the towel is dry, ice shouldn’t form.

3. Clear your locks

If you find your door locks jammed up with ice, just slather your keys in hand sanitising gel; it’ll de-ice the locks and de-germ your keys. If you don’t have any hand gel, you can gently heat your keys up over a lighter instead.

4. De-ice your doors

If you’re really unlucky, you might find your door handles and seals frozen over. If you can’t loosen them by hand, you’ve got a couple of options. You can try spraying de-icer on the stuck areas, spread some hand gel around, or, if you’re really stuck, you can gently pour warm water on the icy bits. Don’t use boiling water as it can cause glass to crack and make sure you wipe off any excess to ensure it does’t refreeze.

5. Check your exhaust

If it has been snowing heavily, make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear. If it is blocked then you’ll find that your car is very hard to start and you may run the risk of dangerous exhaust emissions ending up inside the car.

6. Get oiled up

Buying the right oil is important all year round, but it’s extra-important in winter. The lower temperatures cause oil to thicken and, if you’re using the wrong type, that thickening can cause you real problems. Halfords have a little book that you can look up your oil type in, or you can use an online service like this one.

7. Concentrate

Don’t use plain old tap water to fill up your washer reservoir, use concentrated windscreen wash (ideally one that’s formulated for winter). The winter formulas can stay liquid when temperatures are well into minus figures.

8. Get a grip

If you find yourself wheel-spinning in your parking space, clean cat litter may just be the perfect solution. A small bag of cheap cat litter is perfect for tossing on icy or slippery surfaces to give your car extra grip for just long enough to escape a slippery parking space.

9. Clear your windscreen

Driving with partially de-misted windows is dangerous. Invest a couple of quid in a de-mister pad or a micro fibre towel to help you to de-mist quickly. Using your hands or a random tissue out of the glove box can lead to streaky windows, which are very annoying when driving at night. If you find that your car gets unusually misty, try leaving a few Pound Shop dehumidifiers (the ones filled with silica gel) on the back seat to absorb any extra moisture.

10. Proper footwear

A decent set of tyres make winter driving so much easier. They’re a little more expensive than normal tyres and the speed ratings are a bit lower, but they grip much better in snow and ice.