Winter is in full swing! And if you’re in the majority of Canada, and don’t keep your vehicle in a garage, there’s a good chance you wake up to a snowed in vehicle at least a few days of the year. These winter car hacks aren’t exactly top secret, but that’s because they work. Give them a try the next time the temperatures are expected to drop.

Problem #1: Frozen doors

Waking up to a door that’s frozen shut is a pain, but with a little foresight, it’s preventable. Spritzing cooking spray, like Pam, around the seal of the door before leaving it overnight will keep the moisture from seeping in and freezing it shut. WD-40 will also do the trick, plus it works for frozen locks (but more on that later).

Problem #2: A frosty windshield and no snow scraper

Sometimes a deep freeze catches you by surprise and you might not have a snow scraper handy. If this happens, a spatula or card from your wallet are both effective substitutes for scraping the ice off your windshield. You can also mix a solution of 50/50 rubbing alcohol and water to spritz on your windshield and dissolve the ice.

To keep ice from forming in the first place, mix 3 parts vinegar 1 part water in a spray bottle and spritz the night before.

Problem #3: Frozen, snowy windshield wipers 

You know the story, you get in the car after a cold night and turn on the wipers, hoping they clear off the ice and snow so you don’t have to. Sometimes it works, and sometimes your wipers are frozen in place. People often prop their windshield wipers up to prevent this from happening, but that’s not always a good idea. Wind can cause the wipers to spring shut, which can crack and damage your windshield. Instead, slip an old sock over each of the wipers before turning in for the night to stop ice from building up. When you’re done with the socks, keep them in your vehicle. If you get stuck, you can slip them over your shoes to provide more traction against the snow as you push.

Problem #4: A frosted or fogged up interior windshield

It’s a rude awakening when you clear the ice off your windshield just to realize it’s frozen on the inside too. Luckily, there are several tricks you can use to prevent the inside windows of your car from freezing and fogging up.

Keeping moisture out is key, so take any liquids or bottles in the house with you before leaving your car. Before turning off your car for the night, crack the windows for a few seconds so the temperature and humidity in the car are closer to that of the outside.

A chalkboard eraser is a quick fix for a foggy windshield and doesn’t leave streaks. To prevent your windshield fogging up in the first place, leave an old sock filled with cat litter under the seat. The litter will absorb the moisture and stop your windshield from fogging up. In fact, the moisture-absorbing properties of cat litter aren’t the only reason to keep it on hand in the winter. Keep a bag stashed in your trunk so you can sprinkle it under the tires for traction if you get stuck.

Problem #5: Frozen car locks

While new cars these days unlock electronically, if you have an older vehicle, you’ve probably struggled with frozen locks. Luckily, there’s a remedy for that (and you’re probably carrying it with you right now!). It turns out that hand sanitizer isn’t only good for pandemics, the alcohol in it also unfreezes locks.

Simply coat a little sanitizer around the key or the frozen part of the lock. When you unlock the vehicle, the alcohol will melt the ice. If you don’t have sanitizer but happen to have a straw on hand, you can blow on the lock and the heat from your breath will help melt the ice.

Problem #6: Snowy side mirrors

If you’re expecting a big dump of snow, tie a couple of plastic bags around your side mirrors and secure them with elastics. When you’re ready to drive again, take them off and stow them in the trunk for next time.

Problem #7: Dull headlights

Good headlight visibility is critical, especially when the days are shorter and the weather is unpredictable. A quick trick for cleaning dirty lights is rubbing a thin layer of toothpaste on them, leaving it for a minute, then rinsing with warm water. Go one step further and rub wax on your clean headlights to keep the condensation off.

Well, between frozen car doors and foggy windshields, these tips should pretty much have you covered! But we’ll leave you with one parting tip: when you have the chance, park your car facing east. The sun will naturally defrost your car and make your departure that much easier.

For more tips on getting your car through winter with as little hassle as possible, see our blog on Winter Road Tips for Safe Driving.