How to de-ice your car: top tips for a speedy morning getaway

A member of the public de-ices their car near Ashford, Kent, as large areas of Britain were brought to a halt today as the big freeze tightened its grip on the nation.

As the weather hits wintry sub-zero depths and Christmas spirit pervades the air, there's one time when very few people feel like celebrating peace on earth and goodwill to all men – the mornings. De-icing a stubbornly cold car is one of the worst winter chores that, sadly, almost everyone without a garage has to endure.

But don't worry, because it doesn't have to be that difficult. Here are our methods for clearing the frost from your screen...

See also: Top five winter driving tips

See also: Top tips on getting your car ready for winter

But first of all, what NOT to do. It's tempting to attack the frost with a kettle of hot water, but you shouldn't do this under any circumstances. Hot water hitting an ice-cold windscreen could easily shock the glass and lead to an expensive crack.

While you could leave the job to your car's heater, it will take a while – and unless you've got a totally secure front driveway, do not start the car and walk away. Opportunistic thieves see the winter months as rich pickings, with lots of expensive cars left with the keys in, the engines running, and the owners in their houses keeping warm.

So what should you do? Your first call should be a dedicated ice scraper. Using a credit card or other makeshift scraper could damage both your possessions and scratch your windscreen, making it an expensive exercise.

If you need a quicker getaway, try mixing up a solution of three parts white vinegar to one part water. Pour it over affected areas to instantly melt the ice.

If you're so inclined, you can buy cans of de-icing spray from most supermarkets or automotive suppliers. Take care, though, as these can damage paintwork if oversprayed.

Prevention is better than cure, so if you can stop ice forming in the first place, you'll have even less to do before you set off. Soak a towel in a solution of water and salt and place over your windscreen and front windows, and you'll have clear windows come morning.

And if you live in a particularly cold area, think carefully when buying your next car. Lots of new vehicles come with heated windscreens, with tiny filaments that heat up and completely eliminate ice scraping.

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