Winter windshield maintenance: How to protect your windshield this winter

January 24, 2022

Protect your windshield from pricey repairs this winter with these tips!

A man performing winter windshield maintenance by removing ice from his windshield

We may not get seriously icy conditions in Texas all that often, but when we do it can be quite the mess. Plants can freeze, pipes may burst, driving conditions may become dangerous, and everything becomes coated in a sheet of ice. It's less of a winter wonderland and more of a slushy, slippery, cold wasteland. To top it all off, you're stuck at home. Why? Because your windshield (and the rest of your car) are also coated in ice! 

Ideally, you'd be able to bundle up inside and wait for the ice to thaw, but sometimes you don't have that luxury. Sometimes you have to brave the cold, and that means you'll need to liberate your car from its icy prison. 

Fortunately, there are ways to free your windshield from ice and prevent it from freezing over in the future. In this winter windshield maintenance guide, we'll show you how to protect your windshield this winter, so read on!

How to keep your windshield from freezing over during the winter

Before you find yourself battling a frozen windshield (and having to invest in auto glass replacement), consider getting ahead of the game by using these strategies:

Park somewhere sheltered

Whether it’s in your garage or a shared community garage close by, sheltered parking can help you avoid the irritating snow and ice buildup on your windshield as well as allow you to steer clear from any falling icicles and avoid frozen locks and door handles!

If sheltered parking is not an option, do your best to avoid parking under trees as heavy burdens of snow can cause tree branches to fall off unexpectedly.

Park facing the sun

If you’re forced to park unsheltered, do your best to park your car facing the sun so that its morning rays will do the trick of melting any ice that forms on your windshield overnight just in time for you to head out to work!

Use windshield covers

From plastic bags to towels, all the way down to old sheets, there are tons of simple and affordable ways for you to cover your windshield. While stores like Amazon and AutoZone also sell professionally made windshield covers (ranging from $17 to $50), you can use common household items at your disposal to get the job done.

Just remember to place the covering underneath the windshield wipers so that the wipers don’t get frozen onto the windshield. Although the wipers will assist in holding down your cover, also consider using other items (such as weights) to hold it down a bit more should you be anticipating a rough winter’s night.

Here are some windshield cover ideas:
  • Towel
  • Sheet
  • Rubber Mats
  • Flattened Cardboard Box
  • Blankets

Use a deicer spray

There are many great sprays available to help you prevent ice from forming on your windshield overnight such as the Prestone Ice & Frost Shield. But you more than likely already have the ingredients you need to create your own deicer right in your own home.

Create your own rubbing alcohol deicer by mixing together two-thirds rubbing alcohol and one-third water. After doing so, you can place it in a spray bottle, shake it up and apply it generously to your windshield before the freezing temperatures arrive.

Create your own vinegar deicer by mixing together two to three parts of white or apple cider vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. After putting the mixture into a spray bottle, shake vigorously and apply it to avoid windshield damage.

You can also create your own saltwater deicer by mixing spoonfuls of either table salt or road salt into one cup of water. After doing so, you can place it in a spray bottle, shake it up and apply it generously to your windshield. However, this option should be your last option in deicing solutions as you’ll have to keep a watchful eye in making sure that the salt water doesn’t reach any metal areas of your car that can become corroded.

No matter which deicer you choose (store-bought or homemade), make sure to apply the deicer to your windshield the night before any winter storm or light snowfall to help prevent any ice buildup on your auto glass.

Additionally, if you’re planning on using a windshield cover, using a store-bought or homemade deicer (whether spraying it underneath the cover or dipping the cover in the solution) could amplify your odds of avoiding any ice build-up.

Try the onion trick

As odd as it may sound, many drivers report that rubbing half an onion over their windshield the night before the temperature changes will work wonders on blocking any frost from forming! Don't have an onion handy? That's okay, a potato can serve the same purpose. 

The idea is that the sugar from your tuber of choice creates a thin barrier over the window, which helps the melting process and prevents ice from accumulating.

Bonus Tip: Flip up your wiper blades

If you’re not planning on using a windshield cover, you’ll want to flip up your wiper blades so that cold temperatures do not freeze your blades to your windshield as frosted blades could signal a frozen motor.

How to properly defrost a windshield

Sometimes no matter what we do, we may still end up with a frosted windshield. If you’re coming up against this while trying to rush off to work in the morning, it can be even more frustrating.

The number one thing to remember NOT to do while in this situation is to pour hot water onto your windshield, as tempting as it may be. Pouring boiling or hot water onto an ice-covered windshield will do nothing more than expose an extreme temperature to another extreme temperature and an attempt to enforce that rapid temperature change could cause a cracked windshield!

Instead, follow these steps to melt ice and precipitation off your windshield without causing a windshield crack:
  • 1. Make sure your wiper switch is turned to “off.” If your wipers have frozen to your windshield, it could mean that your windshield wiper motor is frozen and it is no longer safe to turn it on.
  • 2. Turn your car on and leave it running for a few minutes.
  • 3. Turn on the heat, but don’t turn it on to the highest level for the same reasons listed above. Sudden temperature changes can easily lead to a damaged windshield! Instead, allow the car to warm itself gradually. If your car has a “defrost” button with your A/C system, this will happen automatically after selecting this option.
  • 4. As the ice begins to melt, use an ice scraper to begin gently removing the icicles. If you don’t have an ice scraper at your disposal, you can carefully use your wiper blades to help you with this task. However, aggressive and consistent use of your wiper blades in this fashion can cause them to become damaged. Traditionally, ice scrapers, soft bristle brushes, or rubber sponges are great tools to get this job done. Avoid using metal scrapers or credit cards as these can damage your glass.
It's important to stay on top of the weather forecast during teh winter, especially if you know that an ice storm or freezing precipitation is possible. This allows you to plan ahead and take the few extra minutes required to remove ice from your windshield without having to hurry. 

If you have a store-bought or homemade deicer such as the ones listed above, you can spray this on your windshield prior to using the ice scraper. It will make the deicing process much faster and easier!

Remember, safety is always first so make sure that you finish cleaning off all the ice from your windshield (as well as on the roof of your car) before driving off. Cleaning off just one area for you to see through is never safe.

Other ways to make defrosting your windshield easier include:

Installing “remote start” into your car

Doing this can give you the head start of warming up your car while you’re still tying things up inside the house. This way, once you step outside, a quick spray and scrub are all you’ll have to do to get the ice off your car windows and windshield.

Safety Warning: Whether you start your car in person or do it remotely, always remember the importance of being aware of your surroundings. It’s reported that car thefts typically rise 25% during winter months from car owners leaving their cars unattended as they give them time to warm up! Be watchful and efficient as you defrost in the mornings.

Clean your windshield often

Your windshield is likely to be exposed to more weather-related debris throughout your day, cleaning your windshield thoroughly (at least every two weeks) with a winter-focused windshield washer fluid can help ensure that frost stays off your windshield for longer periods of time.

How to defrost your inside windshield

Once you’ve defrosted your windshield, you may hop in your car only to see that your inside windshield and all other windows have fogged up. To help you clear this away and create some crystal clear visibility, you’ll need to play with the temperatures again. Although you needed gradual hot air to defrost the outside windshield before, now you’ll need a lower, more humid temperature, to clear up the inside.

To do this, you can try cracking your windows just a bit to let cooler air in or you can play with gradually lowering your a/c. Make sure that you’re not recirculating air as that’ll only keep moist air in circulation which has already done its job of creating the fog!

Once the right temperature combination clears away the fog, feel free to wind back up your windows and head-on.

Stay patient

Preventing our cars from winter’s harsh climates could feel like a heavy task but it’s important to step into the season with patience and be prepared to take care of your windshield. Whether you’re going out the night before to move your car, raising your blades, spraying it down with a good deicer, or waking up early to start the process of defrosting it, it will take patience!

Sometimes the deicer won’t work as well you hoped or sometimes your mornings may take longer to defrost, however, you should never skip over key steps or make rash decisions (like using hot water) as they could lead to much bigger problems and a much longer morning (Not to mention a big bill for windshield repair or even windshield maintenance!)

Removing ice from a windshield with a scraper

Got a question about what your insurance covers when it comes to windshield repair? Germania Insurance is here to help. To learn more about our products and services, request a free quote online or reach out to your local agent today!

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Strategist at Germania Insurance.

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