Car Culture: Freezing Windscreens

Your weekly look at all that sucks in the car world, plus some good bits


That time of year again

The heated windscreen was invented some years ago but few car manufacturers install them as standard or offer them as an extra. Every morning on these below freezing days hundred of car owners without a garage can be seen scraping ice off their windscreen, worried about being late for work.

A mystery why the Scottish government hasn’t had a wee chat with car makers about Scottish conditions, or bothered to make hi-viz jackets and bright reflective torso bands mandatory for Scotland’s freezing dark days. Scandinavian countries know what’s needed for bleak winters. In the 4pm dark, twice this week alone I spotted at the last second a pedestrian wearing all black beside my moving car, and once a cyclist swinging the girth of a roundabout, and finally a man street side, scraping the ice off his windscreen, his derriere at an angle ready to be removed by a passing truck.

Everybody knows how to remove ice

Car al fresco, placing a newspaper or cover over your windscreen at night only finds it sticking to the glass first thing in the morning. Better to own a spray can of ice remover. It may be worth heating your car up before you drive off and shifting the heater control to defrost to help it melt faster.

If your car is in your driveway, keeping it turned over until it’s heated up is safe and you can wait indoors. (You can have heated seats retro-installed in any car, a boon to bum and back for that cold start to work. They are cheaper than you think.) If parked in the street you have to sit inside it. By the way, a car idling for ten minutes isn’t good for the environment, so be prepared for glares and stares.

Before you use a car ice scraper to remove the ice on your windows, another effective trick is to apply a de-icer spray to the ice to make it melt faster. Never throw boiling water to the ice, this is sure to crack your windscreen. There are numerous de-icer sprays on the market that you can purchase, easiest from your local petrol station.

You can create your own DIY de-icer spray – try solutions of water and salt, water and vinegar, or water and alcohol spraying them on your windows. When combining water with a teaspoon of salt use the solution sparingly. Salt can damage your car’s paintwork used in excess. As an alternative, combine one part water to three parts vinegar for an equally effective spray, or a mixture of one part water to two parts surgical spirit.

Basic instinct

I tried scraping the ice off my first car using a sharp metal cooking spatula – it left the glass covered in inch-long cuts, sigh, a costly new windscreen the answer to an elementary mistake. Once your car has begun heating up, only then start chipping away gently at the ice using a proper ice scraper, usually made of plastic.

Be warned, if the ice on your car windows hasn’t been completely removed by the time you start driving leaving you with a letterbox area to see the road, you face the prospect of a fine if spotted by a passing police car. The UK government’s guidelines outline on adverse weather state you “must be able to see” when driving, and so “all snow and ice” must be cleared from your windows.


V&A novel car exhibition

A 1950s concept car inspired by fighter jets – it looks like a toy jet for an adult – and a contemporary prototype that could fly have gone on display in an exhibition that the V&A acknowledges may alarm some people. The show brings together 15 cars and 250 objects for what is the museum’s first exploration of the car as a piece of design. Elsewhere, the show shines light on misguided and patronising attempts in the 1950s and 1960s to get more women interested in cars. Chrysler’s solution in 1955 was the Dodge La Femme. (Worth a Google.) Designed by men – yes men, it was a pale pink car with simplified dashboard controls and accessories including a rain hat, coat, umbrella and pink leather handbag stocked with makeup and a cigarette case. In the late nineties Ford allowed a woman to design a car for the female of the variety and she did a superior job, but Ford never put the striking design into production. The exhibition reveals the electric car was around at the end of the 19th century, ideas about autonomous driving have been around since the 1950s, and flying cars have been around since Jules Verne. If you’re in London and like cars as ‘moving sculpture’, give it a visit. It closes in April.

Cyclists, get a life!

Hard to believe chippy cyclists think either a small rear light or none at all is all the protection you need to survive life in the fast lane. Small lights on bicycles are totally inadequate for winter road conditions, even flashing variety. Driving in the dark, trying to see out of misted or rain spattered windscreens is not easy. Even at 20mph, it’s easy to miss that cyclist shooting past on your blind side. If there’s anybody out there who can invent a better LED, and signal flashers built into the ends of handlebars, you’ll make your fortune. And don’t get me started on kamikaze pedestrians….

SNHS car park

Had to make an emergency visit to the dermatology department of our national health service – for the information of my non-Scottish readers – a service separate and distinct from England, a bipolar land where the Tory party lies through its private dentures about not selling theirs to the lowest bidder. (Give Trump credit – he is honest about that issue.) Anyhow, no car park, so had to arrive an hour early and wait until a parking bay became free in a side street, sit there until close to appointment time, and then put £13 in the meter for three hours. Got a bit choked when I realised I’d been born in Chalmer’s Hospital on that very spot and here I was back again at the far end of life. Anyhow, behind the dermatology hospital, Edinburgh council has allowed massively ugly glass apartments built, and not a car park in sight. Great planning.

Happy motoring!




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7 Responses to Car Culture: Freezing Windscreens

  1. All good advice there, Gb; I’ve clocked one or two ‘tank drivers’ about this week.
    It always amazes me in the subject of non-visibility how many people actually have no sense of whether or not a driver or any other road user can see them.
    Even in broad daylight you get people oblivious to the danger as they stand roadside to their vehicle.
    Lights on bikes are another.
    I had mine lit up like a UFO with the biggest brightest fixed LED lamps fore and aft I could find.
    It was also festooned with lots of little keyfob sized strobe lights hanging from every available space.
    I’m still here so it must have been quite effective! 😀

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    You’ll be brighter than the Xmas Ferris wheel in Princes Street gardens. 🙂

  3. Hugh Wallace says:

    I love my Fords & their heated windscreens. I bought a C-max 3 years ago and loved the ‘bonus’ of finding the windscreen defrosted itself so when I went looking for another car last year a heated windscreen was a must have item. Turned out that essentially limited me to Fords with my budget. Loving my Kuga too.

    As for cycling, I’m a cyclist as well as a motorist (& a former police officer to boot) and am gobsmacked by how cyclist appear to be completely unconcerned about their own safety. In day time, summer or winter, I am clad in hi-viz orange and in winter the reflective gear comes out after 4pm. In winter I have at least 2 rear lights at all times (I just had to buy new ones the other day for the princely sum of £3 for lights visible a good mile away) in the dark and often during the day except in the middle of summer on bright days. Front flashing lights too, though my attitude on the bike is that I am looking out for everyone coming at me from the front so it is less important that they see me than I see them.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Wise words, Hugh. Might reproduce a few in okay with you.

  5. Hugh Wallace says:

    You are welcome to, GB!

  6. Howard Cairns says:

    Hi Cuz, have a look at what is new in safety lighting for cyclists. See below:

    to see the latest inventions.

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    Somebody getting cycle smart at last! 🙂

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