New Brunswick

Hacks to make winter with your car less annoying

CBC New Brunswick tested some cold-weather car hacks to keep your vehicle clean and protected from the elements this winter.

Frost on the inside of your windshield? We have solutions

Tube socks might help protect your wipers from ice and snow. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Like it or not, winter has arrived in New Brunswick, and it can do a number on your car.

Salt, sand and slush can make your car look a little crusty between washes, and if you don't have a garage, protecting your ride from the elements is even more challenging.

CBC New Brunswick tested a few winter weather car hacks that might make your morning commute a little easier.

Frosty interior

There's nothing more discouraging than going out to your car on a bitter morning only to find frost covering your windshield — on the inside.

If you’re parking outside this winter, check these five ways to keep your car from freezing up. 2:19

But there are ways to prevent this particular winter woe.

Open your windows a bit to let in dry air before locking up your car for the night. It will help the temperature inside the car reach the outside temperature, and reduce humidity. 

"You kind of want everything to be roughly the same temperature," said Matt Waterhouse, an automotive technician at York Auto Service in Fredericton. "Then it can cool down at the same rate."

Cracking your windows slightly for a little while to let in cool dry air may help reduce condensation inside your car. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Keeping moisture out of your car is key to preventing a frosty interior, Waterhouse said.

Kicking off your boots will keep you from tracking snow and ice into your car, another way to help prevent frost forming on the inside of your windshield.

Defrosting with your AC on will also help pull moisture out of your car.

And don't leave any liquids in your car overnight, as it will create more condensation, and eventually frost.

Deicing in a flash

If you want to save time in the morning (or you slept in and are late for work) here's a solution to clear your windshield of ice a little bit quicker.

Mix two parts rubbing alcohol with one part water and put in an old spray bottle. The alcohol reduces the freezing point of the solution and can help you clear your windshield in a flash.

A 50-50 mixture of water and alcohol has a freezing point of –50 Celsius, said Barry Blight, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of New Brunswick.

Chemist and professor Barry Blight says a rubbing alcohol-water solution can dissolve ice the same way water dissolves salt or sugar crystals. (Angela Bosse/CBC)

From a chemical standpoint, Blight said, the solution wouldn't leave behind any residue.

"It effectively dissolves the solid water, which is what ice is, the same way water dissolves salt or sugar."

Blight said there are some people in even colder climates who add rubbing alcohol to their windshield wiper fluid to lower the freezing point.

"It's not particularly environmentally friendly but it doesn't hurt the vehicle," Blight said. 

Car cover alternatives

Some people without access to garage parking in the winter shell out for a car cover, but here are a couple of cheap alternatives to protect your vehicle's extremities. 

Plastic bags and rubber bands can be used to cover your side mirrors, keeping them free of ice and snow.

Covering your side mirrors with plastic bags can protect them from snow and ice. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Some people slide tube socks over their windshield wipers to protect them from freezing rain.

However, the bigger windshield wiper question seems to be: should you leave them up overnight or not?

Experts like Waterhouse don't recommend it.

"They are spring-loaded so if a little bit of wind hits them and knocks them down it can break the windshield."

Waterhouse also said the best way to protect your wipers is to wait until your car heats up before turning them on, and don't scrape too close to the rubber blades.

Locked out 

Under the right weather conditions, you can find yourself locked out of your car by Mother Nature.

Car doors and locks can freeze shut, but don't pour hot water over them, no matter how much you may be tempted.

While experts say there may not be too much you can do to prevent your doors from freezing shut, some cooking spray or a silicone treatment may help. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Waterhouse said there is no sure way to prevent your car freezing shut, but lock deicer or a silicone spray on your door seals might help.

You can also try applying cooking spray to your door seal — the oils may help prevent water from sticking.

Just be sure to wipe off the excess with a paper towel or you'll be left with a greasy window.

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