Winter is now in full swing, there is snow on the ground, and temperatures are dropping. Being prepared for the winter is always smart, but sometimes the cold can disrupt your vehicle creating extra chores for you in the process. Whether its from a heavy snow fall, freezing rain, or sub-zero temperatures, there is a variety of issues that can prevent you from driving safe, or even getting inside your car!
Below are some DIY (do it yourself) car tips to get you on the road, keep you on the road, and save you a few dollars in the process.
Dealing with ice on your car
One of the biggest issues with owning a car in the harsh Canadian winters is dealing with stubborn ice on your windshield, headlights, and mirrors. There are creative ways you can deal with ice on your vehicle
Always have a good windshield scraper in your car.
If for whatever reason, your scraper breaks, or you do not own one, you can use a credit card (or any other plastic card in your wallet) as a makeshift windshield scraper.
Lubricate rubber seals to prevent your doors from icing over.
Cooking spray, or good ol’ WD-40 will work here. This trick I learned from my dad, when our old Chevy Cavalier’s doors would be sealed shut from the ice. To combat this, we started spraying WD-40 on the rubber seals which outline the door to prevent them from freezing shut.
Put a Ziploc bag over your side mirrors to prevent them from icing over.
Take a large freezer or Ziploc bag, and place it over your side mirrors. You can secure them and fasten them tight with an elastic, to ensure no snow or ice build up on your mirrors.
Put a rug, a large plastic sheet, or a cover over your windshield.
By placing a small rug, a plastic sheet, or a cover over your windshield before a heavy snow fall, you can reduce the amount of time removing snow. Just remove the rug or sheet, and voila, clean windshield! Just remember to wear gloves to protect your fingers from the cold. You can also buy these items off Amazon for cheap.
Park your car facing east if possible, so the sun will naturally defrost your windshield when it snows.
When possible, park your car facing the east at night. The sun rises in the east, so you will get a natural ice melter (the sun) working in your favour. On very cold and dark days, this might not work, but for those milder winter days, the sun will work to your advantage.
Melt the ice off your windows or mirrors with warm water and vinegar.
Mix together 3 parts vinegar, and 1 part water (3:1) in a spray bottle, and spray on your windows to melt off excess snow and ice. You can also use this solution beforehand on your windows to prevent the ice from accumulating.
Use hand sanitizer to help defrost ice on your locks or handles.
The alcohol in the saniziter will help melt off ice on your locks or door handles. If your car does not have remote entry, you can put some on your key if you have trouble unlocking your door. You will also keep your hands clean in the process!
Improving visibility in your car during winter
Safe driving means having optimal vision. During the winter time, having clear visibility should be one of your top priorities. The tips listed below will help increase your visibility, without having to spend a lot of money. Most of the items listed can be found in most homes.
Use a mixture of water, vinegar, dish soap, food colouring, and alcohol for wiper fluid.
If you can’t make it to the gas station or store, you can make your own windshield wiper fluid concoction. By mixing water, vinegar, a bit of dish soap, and alcohol to prevent the mixture from freezing, you can create wiper fluid while saving some cash.
Clean your headlights with toothpaste.
This is a trick that really works. By cleaning your headlights with toothpaste, you can keep them clean for a long duration of time. Simply apply some toothpaste on a rag or cloth, and scrub your dirty headlights. Rinse with warm water and repeat if necessary. Easy peasy.
Reduce fog and improve your visibility by cleaning your windows with shaving cream.
This trick will work with any window really, including glasses that you wear on your head. The shaving cream will create a protective film on the glass, which will prevent condensation and fog from building up. You can use soap to the same effect, but shaving cream is definitely easier and less messy.
Use a chalk board eraser to remove the frost on the inside of your windows.
If you keep a spare chalk board eraser in your glove box or centre console, you can use it to de-fog your windows without smudging them. It is probably one of the easiest and cleanest ways to get rid of the fog and improve your visibility when driving.
Cat litter can serve multiple purposes for your car in the winter
Cat litter? Really? Yup, cat litter can play an important role in the winter time and help you during critical moments. Don’t have a cat? That’s okay, there are tons of local pet stores located throughout Canada. You can also find cat litter in other places like your local grocery store, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, and other locations.
- Put a large bag of cat litter (20+ lbs) in your truck for extra traction. This will help for rear-wheel drive cars specifically.
- Fill a sock with cat litter and place it under your car seat to reduce window fogging. This works believe it or not as the active ingredients with the litter will suck the moisture out of the air, increasing your visibility from unwanted foggy windows.
- If you get stuck in a snow bank, or a patch of ice, cat litter can be used to gain traction and get out of a tough situation. Simply dump some of the litter under your tires to get out in a hurry!
Emergency winter kit
Having an emergency winter kit in your trunk can come in very handy. Like all pieces of equipment, cars can break down and leave you stranded. Hopefully this never happens, but just in case it does, you can be a bit more prepared by storing “survival” items in your vehicle. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
- Keep an extra pair of socks in your glove compartment. They can be used to put over top of your windshield wipers, or to put over top of your boots for extra tread
- Store an extra blanket in the trunk to keep you warm, in case you get stranded.
- Keep a box of crackers or granola bars in your emergency winter kit. If you get stuck, you never know how long you’ll be there without food. Having non-perishable food items can really come in handy.
- Always keep an emergency flashlight with spare batteries in your trunk or glove compartment.
- Matches and candles are also a good idea to store within your emergency winter kit.
- Store an extra phone charger, just in case your phone battery gets low and you need to make a phone call.
You can buy Emergency Winter Kits off Amazon, which come with a lot of these items, plus more.