January 27, 2023

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These viral TikTok windshield hacks don’t work

3 min read

Trying to remove ice on your windshield? Your best bet is probably already built into your car.

WASHINGTON — Some brutally cold weather is in the forecast for the DMV, and that means you might have some ice to deal with soon – on the roads and on your car. 

From pouring boiling water on your windshield to coating your headlights in grease, TikTok is full of winter car myths. While it makes sense to want to find a quick and easy solution to that frozen windshield slowing down your morning commute, drivers need to exercise caution: not everything you see online works..

THE QUESTION

Which winter weather windshield hacks are true? Are there some you shouldn’t try at home?

THE SOURCES

  • AAA

  • National Safety Council

  • Laura Garcia, program head of the Alexandria Automotive Department at Northern Virginia Community College.

THE ANSWER

The best solutions are probably already built-in – just make sure to keep boiling water away from your car.

WHAT WE FOUND

Let’s start with what not to do. 

Anything involving rapid changes in temperature is a bad idea. 

“Glass is very rigid and brittle,” explained Garcia. ‘So any extreme change in temperature is just going to make it shatter, because it can’t expand and contract like metal can.”

That’s bad news for many popular internet hacks. Pouring boiling water on your windshield could bust the glass

@gollandec3

pouring hot water on the car window

♬ Funny Laugh no no no – Sound Effect

Same problem applies to putting hot water in a bag and using it as an ice-destroying squeegee; it may look fun, but it can end badly.

“Luckily, windshield glass is safety glass, so it’s not likely to cut you too badly, but it can be a challenge,” Garcia said.

There are ways to safely de-ice your windshield without breaking out a scraper. The simplest is to turn on your car’s built-in defroster.

“Air transfers heat much slower to your glass,” said Garcia. ‘So you don’t experience thermal shock, where the glass is just going to absorb a whole bunch of heat at once and then completely shatter.”

One TikTok user recommends putting your visors down to speed up the process, and it turns out she’s right. 

Garcia blew smoke through the vents of a training car to show why this hack works – you can see that interview here.

Defroster vents work by blowing hot air along the windshield, gradually heating it up and melting the ice. That hot air doesn’t stick around though – it travels along the roof of your car and into the cabin. That’s part of why defrosters can be slow.

“What you can do to aid in this heat transfer is just to flip your visor down,” Garcia said. “Then the heat will be able to be trapped a little bit better on the windshield area.”

Looking for a more chemical approach? Another video claims that spraying alcohol on the ice will melt it. That’s also true. One guy even poured a can of beer on his windshield to get rid of the frost – messy, but Garcia says it theoretically could work.

Low-temperature wiper fluid often contains a high concentration of alcohol to take advantage of its antifreeze and de-icing properties. That means you don’t actually need to mix up a special de-icing solution yourself – just get in your car and use the built-in spray.

Bottom line, between the defroster and wiper fluid, your best bet is probably already built into your car. But stay away from that boiling water – your car and pocketbook will thank you for it.




2022-12-23 01:35:43

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