Expert advice: try my car cold weather hacks on freezing mornings

cold weather hacks

Follow our tips below and this need not be you (Picture iStock/sonsam)

Standing outside on freezing cold mornings scraping ice off your car has to be down there with visits to the dentist and paying tax. All are necessary for very good reasons but that doesn’t make them enjoyable.

I can’t help you with your teeth or tax, but I can give you some pointers to make it easier to get your car ready for the road in the mornings.

Air-con’s your friend

Get in your car first thing on a freezing morning and you’ll notice it steams up almost instantly. This is because moisture from your breath condenses on the cold glass. But it’s easy to get rid of this using your car’s ventilation system. Here’s how.

First: turn the fan on full. Ensure the air flow is pointed at the windows and turn the heating up. Most importantly make sure the air-conditioning is turned on. This will dry the air. Turn the recirculation function off. That ensures dry air from outside is drawn in rather than simply pushing the moist air inside around. Opening your windows slightly will also help to disperse the moisture. Finally, be patient. It’ll take a couple of minutes but driving with just little portholes to peer out of (below) is against the law – not to mention incredibly dangerous.

Cold weather hacks

The towel trick

You can’t get away from clearing ice or sometimes even snow from your screen. But with this hack, getting busy with a scraper could be a thing of the past. It’s quite simple: when you leave your car at night, turn it off while the windscreen wipers are on. If you’re lucky, rather than parking themselves, they’ll stop across the screen. You can then slide an old towel beneath them.

In the morning, the towel will have ice on it but your screen should be ice free. Don’t forget: when the towel thaws it will probably become damp so it’s worth having something waterproof you can store it in if you don’t have anywhere to leave it at home.

Plastic bags aren’t just for sandwiches

When it’s really cold, ice will form on your door mirrors. For that reason, they’re heated on many modern motors. If you don’t know how to work yours, it’s worth checking the user manual.

Cold weather hacks

The humble plastic bag can prevent this from happening (Picture iStock/MargoeEdwards)

If your car doesn’t have heated mirrors, you can prevent yours icing up with a simple plastic bag. It’s a great way of reusing old bags and of course you can keep on using them. Just tie them up so they don’t blow away. They’ll save you that little bit of extra aggravation that none of us needs first thing in the morning.

Let a wall protect you

There’s a hack doing the rounds that says park facing east. The idea is the rising sun will melt the ice on your screen. I don’t know about you, but in the winter I often leave the house before the sun has come up. And that’s assuming it’s not hidden behind a cloud all day! I think there’s a better hack than that.

Park next to a wall or building. The side of the car nearest to whatever you’ve parked by will stay frost free. And if you’re lucky, the windscreen and/or rear window won’t get iced up either. Much better than relying on something as unreliable as winter sun.

Deal with a frozen door

It rarely gets so cold in the UK that car doors freeze shut. But it can happen, particularly if you park outside. Luckily, it’s so easy to stop this from happening.

Simply get a cloth and put some oil on it. This can be the vegetable or olive oil you use for cooking. Then wipe it around the rubber door seal. Don’t put so much on that you get covered with it every time you go near the car. A wipe should be enough to lubricate the seal. Hey presto, no more sticking doors.

If your door won’t shut in frosty weather, simply pour warm water (not boiling) on the exterior of the door, concentrating mainly around the handle area. This helps de-frost the internal cables in the door which allows the door to latch closed.

Damon Jowett is head of Service Delivery – Rescue for Green Flag

30 comments on “Expert advice: try my car cold weather hacks on freezing mornings

  1. Steve Michelle 04/02/2019 8:36 AM

    Oil on the rubber door seals? Much better to use silicone spray.

    • Jeremy Bennett 26/12/2019 12:24 PM


  2. Eric Hayman 04/02/2019 10:39 AM

    Here, in Bournemouth but two miles from the seafront, I regularly have ice on my car after a frosty night. I always back into my short driveway – to drive out forwards onto the road (see the Highway Code for not reversing out into the road). This leaves the rear window of my VW Fox ice free because it is only a couple of feet from the house’s front wall. But the windscreen will have a thick layer of ice on it. I have used the towel method and it works, although the wipers and de-icer are needed to clear the glass completely. I use de-icer and a scraper on the side windows and mirrors.

    The other problem after frosty nights is a thick layer of condensation (often frozen) on the inside of the windscreen. What suggestions for stopping that, please? I do not want to leave a door window down an inch, even if that would prevent it.

    Another trick for when parking on a short drive immediately in front of a house is to place a line of bricks or pavers from the wall of the house long enough so that the rear tyres hit the first reached brick or paver before the rear bumper of the car would touch the wall.

    • Taylor 21/12/2019 10:21 AM

      I have the same problem with condensation on the inside, I have invested in a beldray Rechargeable moisture remover, there are other brands on the market. It has a blade similar to window scraper but actually sucks moisture off the window, it’s quick, easy and efficient, takes only a few minutes whee trying to mop up moisture with cloths takes forever.

    • Ben 22/12/2019 10:22 AM

      When you drive around normally it’s good practice to have the vents blowing at the windscreen and at your feet. This keeps your vehicle’s carpets dry and prevents any damp inside the car when you come to use it in the frosty morning. No damp/Moisture No Must.

  3. Ray Stevens 04/02/2019 12:42 PM

    i remember about 18-20 years ago driving our Motorhome from Austria to Hamburg northern Germany on Motorways covered in Packed Snow and Ice, we managed quite comfortably the journey on pulling into services to fill up with Diesel cars entering were having to break out of ice coated cars, as their doors were frozen closed… Very Cold minus 14-20c interesting i thought.
    we were able to drive at 40mph quite safely without any undue problems some 600 miles without any problems on motorways or even in the City of Hamburg cars were being driven sensibly.
    What amazes me how ever is a having also driven over there in Blizzard conditions in Europe they don’t appear to come to a standstill yet here in the Uk everything Grinds to a Halt

    • J B Owen 19/11/2019 3:21 PM

      In the UK we don’t know when the snow will come or in what amount so we are never prepared, in Canada where I lived for many years they know within a week or so when the snow will arrive and how much so they are more than ready, the snow comes down and within days the roads are clear as is every side street and I suspect Austria and Germany is the same.

      • Anne Donoghue 20/12/2019 12:10 PM

        I have just changed to green flag and am very impressed.Needed them out as I’d left a light on and engine wouldn’t start. They were with me very quickly and job done. Also my first news letter is great. Thank you.

      • Dave 20/12/2019 9:10 PM

        What amazes me how ever is a having also driven over there in Blizzard conditions in Europe they don’t appear to come to a standstill yet here in the Uk everything Grinds to a Halt. It does not amaze me !
        This is because we don’t think its worth spending vast amounts of money on gritting the roads , when if it only rains the salt just gets washed away. The UK only gets a few days of bad weather and we never seem to know when we will get it.,or where. We only seem to have a few snow ploughs etc and they always seem to get stuck behind abandoned vehicle’s and can not get to where they are needed. We get by without spending much , and take a bit of snow as a delay we expect in winter.

      • Maxwell Chenevix-Trench 21/12/2019 11:30 AM

        Surely, that is what weather forecasts are for

    • L.A.Thompson 20/12/2019 10:31 PM

      Sorry, I don’t understand your points about other peoples’ frozen cars. Can you explain, please?

  4. CLIVE CHAMBERS 19/12/2019 11:36 PM

    Use a plastic bag with hot water in it. While the car heaters are concentrating on the windscreens you can just “wipe” the side windows, wing mirrors AND most importantly the front and rear lights. It really does work!

  5. Mr S Sammut 20/12/2019 12:40 AM

    I find cold water poured gently and not thrown heavily, gets rid of the white ice from the windows and glass. Not hot water of course, in case it breaks the glass. I use the hot tap and by the time it fills the jug, barely warm water starts coming down from the tap. The whole jug fills with barely tepid water

  6. Judi Fendley 20/12/2019 12:42 PM

    I always pour a jug of tepid water over the windscreen and windows when they are iced up. Works a treat, and very quickly.
    For condensation inside the car, a dashboard dehumidifier helps – contains silica crystals and it can be recharged in the microwave.

  7. Brian C 20/12/2019 8:28 PM

    I use warm water out of my hot tap to clear my windscreen (DO NOT USE BOILING WATER FROM A KETTLE) Set wipers on after 30 secs and use a squeegy on side windows and mirrors. Turn on heating as above with air conditioning on and away you go.

  8. Ian 20/12/2019 10:36 PM

    I try to remember to turn the heater control AWAY from putting air up onto the screen, especially if I have had the aircon on. It stops the cold aircon pipes in the heater matrix letting moisture up and onto the screen

  9. Michael 21/12/2019 8:37 AM

    Unless you live in a dodgy area to clear your car of ice and stuff just go out to your car ten minutes before your journey and start the car up, put the car heaters on back and front on low open the window slightly and lock the car doors ,go back in finish your cup of tea and then go out to your car and of you go job done .No need for towels or chip fat ,just a bit of common sense.

  10. a f tate 21/12/2019 2:25 PM

    to stop your windscreen from freezing,place small 60cm green house heater on top of dash and leave in car over night ,cost aprox 2p a hour car will be warm in morning.

  11. T W Scott 21/12/2019 7:59 PM

    To remove the ice from thte windscreen try using the top from your de-icer spray can – with the open side to the windscreen and the closed side in your palm – always worked a treet for me!

  12. robert 21/12/2019 8:08 PM

    best thing is to park in your garage !

  13. Jennifer 22/12/2019 8:14 AM

    All info of great help. Especially the windscreen and wipers info. I can leave my car running with doors locked. Clears quickly pity new cars are unable to do that.

  14. Terence Greenaway 22/12/2019 8:25 AM

    Pour a kettle of cool water over the windscreen, turn on the wipers which will freeze over the screen
    then pour again over the windscreen. All good so you can drive off passing residents scraping their

  15. sid jamieson 22/12/2019 9:03 AM

    dont open electric windows in the freezing cold it might damage the control

  16. Michael 22/12/2019 10:35 AM

    A good way to stop condensation with in the car is to have cat litter in an old stocking on the floor in front. This absorbs the moisture. When ready to go put it in a open plastic box in the boot. boot . It can be used many times if allowed to dry out. No Smell.

  17. marilyn costa 22/12/2019 11:45 AM

    This advice I found very useful Tank you. My main problem is icing up inside and also when I clear the windows inside will still frost up as driving until the heater warms up.

  18. B.Houghton 22/12/2019 1:03 PM

    I use a micro fibre cloth to soak up most of the internal condensation and then let the air- con do the rest – saves time.

  19. JONATHAN MORRIS 25/12/2019 5:19 PM

    regarding stopping in the drive or garage , when moving house i always , as soon as possible , screw a 2 inch square piece of wood on garage/drive in line with a back /front wheel . i also glue apiece of old carpet on garage / house wall where the door will impact.

  20. P. FRANKLIN 28/12/2019 9:47 PM

    Thanks for all the good advice. Re iced windscreens; I find the silver sunscreens that we put iver the windscreens to keep the heat out when parked are ideal for front and rear windscreens. Make sure they’re long enough to cover the outside screens and tuck into the doors as you close them. Keep a big bin bag to roll and put them into adter a good shake.

  21. tony henderson 20/03/2020 9:50 AM

    take hot water to bed with you then use it following morning to help unfreeze windscreen as it will still be warm to use

  22. Iain 21/08/2020 2:55 PM

    Hi, I rest a fan heater (on low heat), on the passenger seat, carefully directed towards the screen. Generally, all the windows are clear and the car is warm within 20 mins. Initially, it’s a bit of a faff with the extension lead etc but will worth it.

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