Hooniverse Asks Bonus: How Do You Get Ice Off The Windshield?

I hope this post doesn’t get a, er, frosty reception.
This is not my car. This is what my windshield looks like many times lately.
One of the many things that are different about living in the Ozarks compared to Seattle is the weather, especially the winters. The last few weeks here have been a little cool: sunny days, chilly nights. My old truck (a 1992 F-150) takes exactly 15 to 20 minutes to get warm on cold mornings, which means I have to get creative. Lately, I have been experimenting with different ways to keep or get frost off my truck windshield when I go to work in the morning. Here are my findings.

  1. Warm water: works great if it’s not very cold outside. No good on thick ice, unless you want thicker ice.
  2. Alcohol: again, works great on small amounts of ice, but it’s not good on paint.
  3. Salt: same problem.
  4. Ice scraper: It works great if you’re not in a hurry and need a workout.

I’ve even heard of using vinegar, but all these solutions are after-the-fact and lacking. There must be a better way. I prefer to take a defensive approach and avoid the ice altogether. I’ve noticed that cardboard works great the night before. Pull it off while the truck is warming, and I’ve got a clear windshield.
Over to you. Short of parking indoors in a heated garage, how do you get and keep ice off your windshield on a cold day?

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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks Bonus: How Do You Get Ice Off The Windshield?”

    1. Vairship Avatar

      I use the San Diego equivalent: http://images.military.com/media/discounts/merchant-logos/san-diego-zoo-ts200.jpg my San Diego Zoo membership card…

  1. Manic_King Avatar

    Last 2 of my DDs have had electr. windscreen heating, tiny, barely visible heating threads which cover nearly whole windscreen, very convenient.
    Note to VW though: wtf are you doing for weeks every year in Lapland, make your damn ICE touch screens winterproof, esp. if you push people to turn on things like window heaters via screens.
    For side windows, scraper which is at the one end of this thing:
    But these are good too, esp if they are biz present freebies from some companies:

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I also prefer the square bricks. A brush to remove snow.
      Honestly, I don’t understand the problem: Scraping off the ice takes maybe two minutes? Not a big deal.
      I won’t use aggressive chemicals or let the car run forever, but I also have to park ~600m from my house in wintertime. With a chance of frost and/or snow, my absurdly steep (up to 35°) and long driveway becomes insurmountable.
      When it comes to cabin moist, I’m a bit OCD though. Always let all heat out before parking and turning off the car. See to blowing off water off the rubber mats before that, with the HVAC on El Niño setting. Teach the kids how to remove snow before entering the car (very cute observing them from a distance).

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Well, usually everything is perfect airwise – only small deviations from the righteous path of moist removal show me that it’s worth it. =8^)

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Liberal use of the washer button. It’s not great for wiper blade longevity, but I’m an impatient idiot on a frosty morning.

    1. calzonegolem Avatar

      Is this a Neuromancer reference?

  3. Guest Avatar

    “Short of parking indoors in a heated garage”

    Actually, it doesn’t even have to be heated. I park my car in a garage that I think was built in the 1940s.

    Thin wood walls, with a missing window pane, and gaping holes in the foundation, but I works, and I haven’t had ice on my windows yet!

    Also, I don’t mind the ramshackle-ness, as I like a bit of history.

    1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      Work it.

  4. onrails Avatar

    I use my dad’s old trick. He’d always keep a ratty old gallon pitcher by the utility sink in the wintertime and fill it up with hot water from the tap before he left in the morning. Start the car up, wipe off any snow with a big broom, and pour hot water across the windshield from left to right. Instant defrost! Then he’d hit the wipers to brush away the excess before it froze, do a quick shot of washer fluid to keep the nozzles from filling up with water, and off he’d go. I do the same if I park outside whhen I’ve got a project going in the winter. Works like a charm!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Aren’t you afraid that hot water will crack the cold windscreen?

      1. onrails Avatar

        In all the years I’ve been doing it, I’ve never had a problem. Even with a chipped windscreen it’s still been ok.

      2. Kiefmo Avatar

        It’s a valid concern on some cars. In my experience, the ones more likely to crack under the strain of expansion are the ‘uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge expanse of glass type of windshield, as seen on modern cars that adopt the “cab forward” look. Pickups and older cars are probably a bit more resilient.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          I can imagine a smaller, more rectangular, less suspended glass to be more resilient. Still…it’s just plain physics. I have managed to crack water bottles that came in icecold and which I tried to fill with house-tempered water. Imagining the expense connected to it, and the relatively trivial job avoided by taking that risk, I wouldn’t go down that road. Good to hear that @disqus_HB8GVrbz9S:disqus hasn’t had such troubles yet though. 🙂

          1. onrails Avatar

            Now you guys are making me think about this… I don’t think it’s as much risk as you’re imagining. I always do it in a long slow pour across the length of the top of the windshield so no one part is getting hit too fast by a concentrated area of hot water. Plus from a design standpoint the windshield itself has some expansion designed into it. It’s mounted usually on urethane with a flexible seal around the perimeter and every automaker does hot and cold weather testing so the expansion is built in. Plus with safety glass it’s a bit more elastic. I don’t try this with the rear window.
            Of course, I’ll hang my head in shame and update this when/if I ever have one crack on me…

          2. mve Avatar

            I’ve done this a few times, but have always been afraid of cracking. Also, I once poured the water, got distracted, and wound up with a sheet of ice on the glass. Good times.

  5. ramLlama Avatar

    I just use the ice scraper interleaved with warming up my freezing hands in the car while the defroster runs. It takes time, but it works.
    Pittsburgh doesn’t see that much snow, so it isn’t so big a problem as to warrant a specialized technique.

  6. NorthernCli Avatar

    Start it up. Crank the heat and defrost on high. Walk the dog. Return 15 minutes later. Toasty car. Additional pollutants also help to make next winter milder. Win win.

  7. I_Borgward Avatar

    On the outside: I prefer the one-piece plastic bearclaw style scrapers. Flat and wide handle that fits in your palm, about a 4 or 5-inch wide blade. Soft enough not to scratch glass, stout enough to apply sufficient force to ice. Stores easily under the front seat.
    On the inside: keep your windshield as clean as you can. Even a thin layer of film or other schmutz on glass will attract more condensation than clean glass will, and less condensation means your defrost will work that much faster. Avoid the temptation to smear it around with your hand and let the defrost do the work… patience.
    Chemicals or hot water can certainly do the trick, but are usually hard on both glass and car and are best saved for moments of desperation.

  8. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Move to the south.

  9. dukeisduke Avatar

    I make Gaia cry – I start the truck, turn the defroster on, and set the fan at 2. Fortunately, the winters here in North Texas are usually mild, with just frost on some days, but 1978 and 2011 were notable exceptions.

    1. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

      I remember both of those winters…they both had terrible ice storms.
      I think the 2011 one was worse, though. In SW Fort Worth, we had 4-5″ of the stuff. It was brutal.

  10. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Hammer. Spring will get here.
    Sorry, am I bitter?

  11. nanoop Avatar

    In the golden P-car, I have a stack of these for that purpose, so I can stay within character:
    When nobody’s looking and in the DD, I revert to the cheapest of those:
    Often after using this (detailing a car? What’s that for?):

  12. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    You wouldn’t understand.

    View post on imgur.com

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Had a coworker at Garmin that ran his Wrangler all-winter with the soft top and half-doors, and all but the front windows zipped out. He also only conceded to the cold by adding a hoodie to his usual shorts-and-tshirt work wear.
      And he ate Taco Bell almost exclusively. I’m now convinced he was kept warm by his own intestinal distress.

  13. neight428 Avatar

    Latitude, mostly.

  14. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Park it under a palm tree!

  15. Hatchtopia Avatar

    When I lived outside Kansas City and frequently endured chipping a quarter inch of frozen rain off my windshield (oh, I won’t get over it, don’t worry), I used a aerosol de-icer spray with scraper built in. But, if I actually remembered the night before, a custom cut piece of tarp big enough to drape tightly across the windshield while being closed in the front doors works pretty brilliantly.

  16. cronn Avatar

    I send my car a text message. Half an hour later, it’s defrosted and toasty inside.

  17. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    Park in my garage.

  18. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    Believe it or not, even though the A/C should come on in any car made after about 1984, if it doesn’t, doesn’t work, or you can turn it off, manually, you’re not helping.
    Removing moisture inside the cabin actually seems to speed de-icing, outside. I’m not certain why, but I’ve noticed it, having lived in a few vastly different climates.
    There used to be a few vehicles sold in the US with a conductive material in the windscreen’s laminated construction which gave you a front windscreen defroster/defogger, electrically-powered, just like the ones in the rear window. Heated mirrors work slightly differently, but it’s the same general principle.
    Create a carefully controlled electric short, and it’ll get warm/hot.
    I’m pretty certain you could get the heated front windscreen on the Mercury Sable in the late-80s. Probably the Mark VII, too. IIRC, gearheads didn’t like them because the somehow mostly transparent metal in the glass blocked radar waves, so your Escort/Passport, the real ones, became paperweights.

    1. cronn Avatar

      It has always been a Ford thing, at least in Europe. It has been a common option at least since the introduction of the Ford Scorpio in the 80’s. I cant really think of any other make that has offered it. I’ve seen it on a Ford-era Volvo as well, I think it was a V60.
      Some people can’t un-see the defroster wires, others (like me) aren’t bothered by them at all.

  19. Kirk Narmore Avatar
    Kirk Narmore

    I use a scrapper to remove a 3″x3″ area somewhere in front of the windshield. The defroster clears the rest on my drive to work.

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