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11 hacks to handle snow and ice on your car

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We understand: Winter driving is the worst. You have to wake up earlier because it takes so much longer to drive anywhere, watch out for black ice, fight road salt…

While you probably know the basics of winter driving, you may not always be shoveling the snow off your car. But you really should.

For starters, it helps keep you and all other drivers safer on the road. If that̵

7;s not enough of an incentive, in some states it’s illegal to leave snow and ice on your car while you’re driving.

Snow removal laws for vehicles

Snow and ice flying from vehicles can endanger drivers and pedestrians. This has led several states to pass snow removal laws. Just a few include:

  • Pennsylvania: Drivers must make a “reasonable effort” to clear ice and snow from their vehicle, including the hood, trunk and roof, within 24 hours of the snowfall stopping. Anyone found violating “Christine’s Law” can be fined $50; if ice or snow flies off and causes damage, the driver can be fined up to $1,500.
  • New York: While a specific law was never voted on, New York’s vehicle and traffic laws prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with obscured vision. Number plates and lighting from head and tail lights must also be visible.
  • Wisconsin: Drivers must ensure that the windscreen, side windows and rear window are free of ice and snow. Vehicles without “reasonably clean” windows can be fined $175.

How to properly remove snow and ice from your car

When brushing off your car, make sure you clear as much snow and ice as you reasonably can. Make sure you clear:

  • Ceiling: Snow and ice flying from the roof of your car can cause accidents and even death. Do yourself and other drivers a favor and take the extra minute to clear the roof completely.
  • Windscreen and rear window: Clearing both (not just the windshield) increases your visibility. Be sure to break up snow and ice that has accumulated around the windshield wipers and washer fluid nozzles as well.
  • Side windows and side mirrors: Clearing snow from these areas can be just as important as clearing it from your windshields because it allows you to have a clear view of traffic from both the side and rear.
  • Head and tail lights: Disclosing your headlights and taillights helps other drivers see you – and that’s especially important in bad winter weather.
  • Registration plate: It is often against the law in many states to have your license plate blocked in any way. (Plus, it literally only takes one swipe to clear it.)

Hacks to clear away ice and snow

The good news is that the job can be made easier by following a few simple tips.

  • Use your defrosters. Turn on your front and rear defrosters as soon as you start clearing. If you have a push start, now is the time to take advantage of it. Depending on the weather conditions, it is possible for your entire windshield to fog up in seconds. That’s why it’s important to learn how to defrost the windshield – and quickly. And with the warm air flowing into your vehicle, it helps melt the snow and ice faster.
  • Give yourself time. Depending on how long your car has been parked, or how much snow or ice is on the windshield – it may take some time to clear it. If it’s a really tough job, you may need a break or two after scraping away on ice for a long time. Make sure you leave plenty of time to clear your car before you have to drive your vehicle.
  • Look at those wipers. Do not pull frozen windshield wipers! This can destroy them. Instead, use an ice scraper to chip away the ice and give the car’s defroster time to do its job. Of course, there is the long debated topic of leaving the wipers up or down. Check out more on that topic from one of our Property Damage Quality Assurance Managers.
  • Avoid hot water. Pouring hot water on ice-cold glass can cause the glass to break. (Also, the puddle it leaves behind could cause someone to slip and fall.)
  • Use a proper snow brush. Shovels and other brushes not marketed for safe use on cars can leave scratches. Whether you prefer a foam brush or an extended reach brush, here’s a guide to help you find the best snow brush to suit your needs.
  • Start from the top. Clear snow from the roof of the car first and work your way down: clearing the top of the car later can undo the work you did on the lower half. Make sure you don’t neglect the roof. It helps keep you and other drivers safer on the road.
  • Consider using a de-icing spray. Save yourself some time by spraying a thin sheet of deicer over all the windows of your vehicle. Commercial grade sprays can make the job faster and easier. You can even make a simple homemade spray using a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol.

Of course, the best way to deal with winter is to park your car in a garage or carport if you can.

If that’s not possible, try to take these steps ahead of time to shorten the process and make it easier on yourself.

  • Place plastic bags over your mirrors. Grab a pair of rubber bands to secure them in place.
  • Spray some cooking oil on rubber seals. This will help prevent them from closing doors.
  • Cover your windshield with a piece of cardboard, towel or folded sheet. This can help prevent ice from forming in the first place.
  • Face your car east when parking at night. The rising sun can help start melting snow and ice.

The best winter protection for your car

Another way to protect your car this winter is to have the right car insurance. An Erie insurance agent in your community can help you get the right coverage—at the right price—and provide you with a quote.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to do business in all states. See the company’s licensing and business information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are effective as of July 2022 and are subject to change at any time.

Insurance products are subject to conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions.

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states. ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York. ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York. ERIE long-term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York.

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer any questions you may have before you buy.

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