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6 Genius Ways to Defrost Your Windshield


Is your car stuck out in the cold? If you don’t have garage privileges for your car, then you know all too well the pain of a frosty morning and a windshield slathered in a thick layer of ice. Having a clean windshield is a must for safe driving, which is why we’ve collected these 6 hacks you can use to quickly defrost your windshield.

Hack #1: Ice scraper

It’s not ultra-glam, but it’s a must for safe driving. Many are configured so one side is a scraper and the other’s a brush to get rid of the soft snow. (Those of you in cold climates may not realize this is a regional implement. When relocating to Minnesota from the West Coast, I was given one of these and thought it was a fancy BBQ tool.)

Hack #2: De-icer

You can buy de-icer at your local automotive or big box store, but there’s a formula flying around the internet that claims to be just as effective. Take a spray bottle and mix 1/3 part water with 2/3 parts isopropyl (or rubbing) alcohol. Spray your windows and watch the ice melt way.

Hack #3: Wash it off

Dousing your windshield in lukewarm water will melt the ice enough to make it easier to slough off. But don’t be tempted by the thought of pouring hot water over it to melt it completely. In fact, be very, very (VERY!) careful about the temperature and never use water that’s too hot. Boiling water on a frozen or cold window can cause the glass to break, so err on the safe side with water that’s barely hot.

Hack #4: Your car heater

Granted this one takes a little planning in advance, but if you let your car heater blast for about 5 minutes, your defroster will be much more effective and your wipers can likely brush the slush or snow right off. Of course, don’t ever leave your car unattended or unlocked if it’s running. Car thieves don’t mind a little cold.

Hack #5: Cold air

Wait, what? Before you dismiss this idea, we’re talking about defrosting the windshield while you’re driving. There’s very little that’s scarier than having the window cloud over while you’re frantically trying to read street signs and watch for hazards. If you need to clear the fog stat, you want to quickly lower the temperature inside to stop condensation. And the best way to do that is to open the windows to let in the cold air.

Hack #6: Prevention

Yes, storing your car covered is ideal, but not everyone has garage access. You can still protect your windshield, though, by covering it with a tarp or old sheet or towel. Also consider raising your wipers and covering them with socks at night. They might look a little silly, but they won’t freeze to your windshield.

How to Make Your Car Smarter


Connected automobiles are poised to become the norm. But these days, the smarter car, the more expensive it is. And not everyone is willing to break the bank just yet. 

Fortunately, modernizing your ride doesn’t have to be cause for fiscal toil. From pulling data about your car to anti-sleep apps, there are various ways you can make your old car smarter while being kind to your wallet.

Get on board with OBD

For decades, cars have had powerful computers that manage a kajillion digital processes. The system that helps report all this information to smog technicians and mechanics is the on-board diagnostics port (OBD).

Already pretty smart, right? But OBD ports have also made way for other devices that can make your car, well, smarter.

Cue the dongle

Dongles are adapters that plug into the OBD port, and many are designed to distill the car’s high-octane volume of data down to a simplified report for the driver.

Utilizing this data, some devices help estimate how much you spend on gas each month, or the fuel costs for a specific trip so passengers can easily (and, more important, equally) split fuel costs. Others let you know when it’s time to get an oil change or replace your brake pads.

Given that many of these devices have GPS, certain brands also provide roadside assistance. So information regarding the specific car troubles can be automatically broadcasted from the device to the tower.

Some top-brand dongles cost as low as $10 a month, plus a one-time equipment fee (not including taxes and such). Advanced diagnostics products can run upwards of $500 and into the thousands, but may still be more affordable than opting for even among the least expensive semi-autonomous car.

Now, you might be wondering about cars without OBD ports. Well, a device that can be found on restaurant tables across the U.S. also enables plenty of connected-car features: your smartphone.

Apply the apps

Got a souped-up ’73 Dodge Dart with candy paint but no OBD? Well, if you’ve got a smartphone, you may have access to a suite of connected-car apps that cost next to nothing (and sometimes nothing).

Combating drowsy driving

If you’re planning a long trip with your roadster and are worried about drowsy driving, several anti-sleep apps may be exactly what you’re looking for.

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Some let you set up alarms beforehand, at random intervals, to help keep you awake throughout the trip. But many monitor drowsiness cues using complex algorithms, which detect head positioning and eye-blinking rate. When it spots drowsiness, an alarm goes off.

Considering that stats show nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver, apps like these — which don’t cost much — can be absolutely vital.

Improved navigation

Sure, most smartphones are already equipped with interactive map systems. But if you want to take your navigation to the next level, check out the latest apps that turn your smartphone into a projector. In effect, they transform the lower portion of your windshield into a display screen so you never have to take your eyes off the road.

And they can even alert you to upcoming sharp turns through a combination of visual aids and voice assistant. Plus, some brands don’t require any extra projectors or special film for the windshield.

Lane-changing and collision-warning

Driving apps for smartphones often employ GPS, cameras, and sensors to alert the driver if, say, the car ahead has slammed on the brakes, using a variety of visual cues. While they’re not an absolute substitute for collision-warning systems, they may be able to identify hazards before the driver has time to react.

But even more advanced systems are available to vehicles, with or without OBD, that can either be hardwired into the vehicle or — if your car has one — co-opt the OBD. Products like these are designed to detect road markings, gauge vehicles ahead, and use unique alerts as part of their lane-departure and collision-warning systems.  Products like this typically cost around $500.