Why an ice scraper is preferable to windshield washer fluid
Without this, the chances of getting into an accident and filing an auto insurance claim rise dramatically.
In a similar vein, the windshield needs to be of supreme quality as well and be free of snow and ice that can make it difficult to see. In an effort to shorten the time it takes to get a car ready after a snowstorm, many motorists spray windshield washer fluid on their cars instead of scraping the ice off, hoping that the liquid will melt away what formed overnight.
As a general rule, however, it’s far better to scrape the ice off than to spray the liquid. This is because extreme cold temperatures can cause the fluid to freeze on contact.
“Even the best windshield washer can form an ice haze on a cold windshield,” a Canadian Tire spokesperson recently told The Globe and Mail.
Fluid substance that prevents freezing quickly evaporates
As the newspaper points out, windshield washer fluid is water-based, but it’s mixed with a special substance called methanol. When windshield washer fluid is poured into the vehicle’s reservoir for this solution, the methanol is what prevents the liquid from freezing.
However, once the liquid is sprayed, the substance begins to evaporate almost immediately after being exposed to the air. This leaves the water behind, causing ice to form on the windshield when temperatures are well below freezing.
Naturally, the only time it will freeze upon contact is if the temperature of the windshield is colder than the air. Because this can often be impossible to know for certain, drivers will often spray their wiper fluid, only to find out that it’s freezing once it hits. This can make it difficult to see clearly while driving.
Though it may take longer to scrape than spray, it’s generally best to use a standard ice scraper or snow brush rather than windshield washer fluid, the Alberta Motor Association points out.
Don Szarko, director of advocacy for the AMA, told The Globe and Mail that washer fluid is a short-term solution in the winter months that generally only lasts a few seconds.
“While use of washer fluid can assist with your windshield defrost, the clearing effect is only momentary,” said Szarko. “Even with the use of washer fluid, fog can form on the inside of your windshield until your engine warms and the engine defrost is able to clear your visibility.”
While some may find this fluid useful for de-icing purposes, the car itself typically has to be warm in order to be effective. But when just starting the car, opt for a scraper over windshield washer fluid, maintenance experts advise.
IBC: Always drive with safety equipment on board
Driving in the winter can be full of unfortunate occurrences due to slippery conditions, which is why safety experts often tell motorists to expect the unexpected. Motorists can prepare themselves for what Mother Nature throws their way by supplying their car with various products. Booster cables, cat litter, fuel-line antifreeze and a tow chain are all items that can be useful if drivers run into car trouble, the Insurance Bureau of Canada advises.
Motorists should also review their auto insurance policy every now and then. This can help them understand how to get in touch with a representative if they get into an accident and what the proper protocol is.