14 Simple Car Hacks for Winter

Owning a car in Vermont (and New England!) can be a chore. Use these tips and tricks to make cold weather car ownership a little easier!

1. CLEAN YOUR WINDSHIELD WITH SHAVING CREAM.

If your windows fog anytime you get in the car here is a great trick: grab a can of cheap shaving cream.  Coat the inside of your car windows with a thin layer of the cream then wipe them clean.  The cream has the same active ingredients as defoggers.  Wah-la! No more foggy windows!

2. USE A STOCKING OR SOCK FILLED WITH CAT LITER.

Simply leave it overnight and it will absorb all the moisture (and any odors!).

3. WRAP YOUR CAR’S SIDE MIRRORS IN PLASTIC BAGS.

You will never be able to keep your entire car snow- and ice-free You will never be able to keep your entire care snow and ice free unless you own a garage, but side mirrors are easy: simply cover them in gallon sized plastic bags and use rubber bands to protect them.  Slip off the bags and admire your perfectly clear mirrors when you’re ready to drive. 

4. USE HAND SANITIZER ON YOUR KEYS.

If temperatures are low enough, car locks will freeze — and the keys can get stuck. By coating your keys in a little hand sanitizer, avoid this annoying situation. The sanitizer’s alcohol will melt the ice within the locks quickly. Some WD-40 can also be sprayed on your locks to prevent ice from building up inside.

5. THROW A RUG ON YOUR WINDSHIELD AFTER PARKING.

When storm clouds gather, throw an old rug, carpet, or tarp in the trunk of your car. When you park, you can throw it over your windshield to prevent snow and ice from sticking to it. You can also use your makeshift windshield cover for additional traction if you get stuck in the snow.

6. USE A PENNY TO CHECK YOUR TIRES.

It’s all about tire treads when driving in snow and ice without slipping, which give your car traction on slick surfaces. If you’re not sure your tire tread will be ready for winter, pick up a clean penny. Hold the penny with your fingers grasping the body of Lincoln and then put it in one of your tire grooves with the head of the president pointing in it. If the top of the head of Lincoln is gone, the tires will be good for the winter. But if the treads touch only the top of his head, it’s time to purchase new tires.

7. PULL SOCKS OVER YOUR SHOES FOR MORE TRACTION.

Stuck with shoes that don’t give you enough traction for a big push and stuck in the snow? Toss an old pair of socks to keep in the glove compartment.  When this situation happens grab the socks and put them over your shoes.  They will give you more traction for pushing.

8. USE COOKING SPRAY ON YOUR CAR DOORS.

Doors have a tendency to get stuck when temperatures drop. Hitting the kitchen and grabbing some cooking spray the night before a storm can help avoid a cold weather tug-of-war with your car doors.  Coat the doors’ external rubber edges and wipe them clean!

9. USE AN OLD CREDIT CARD AS AN ICE SCRAPER.

It’s always a good idea to invest in a high quality ice scraper— it will get ice and snow off your windshield faster and easier than cheap ones. But in a pinch, some commonplace items can serve as substitutes such as an old credit or gift card or a plastic spatula (just don’t use a metal spatula— it will damage your windshield).

10. REMOVE SNOW FROM YOUR CAR’S ROOF WITH A PUSH BROOM.

It’s probably a good idea to invest in a push broom, but any type of broom will do (just be careful that it won’t scratch your paint). Start by pushing snow off the roof; when the top is clear, remove snow from lower areas. Getting all of the snow off your car isn’t just safe—it could save you money: It’s increasingly becoming law that you can be fined for having snow coming off your car.

11. KEEP SOME KITTY LITTER IN YOUR TRUNK.

To give the back tires of a rear-wheel drive car a little more weight for better traction, buy a 20-pound bag of kitty litter and leave it in the trunk of your car. This will help ground your rear tires over snowy roads. You can also use a heavy bag of road salt.

12. USE YOUR CAR’S FLOOR MATS FOR MORE TRACTION WHEN YOU’RE STUCK. 

Your car’s floor mats (or a piece of cardboard) are great to used under your tires if you need more traction to get out of a small snowbank. If things get really bad, you can also crack the kitty litter open and for more friction under the wheels.

13. CLEAN YOUR LIGHTS WITH TOOTHPASTE.

Brush your lights with toothpaste for extra brightness. When the weather is bad, lights are even more important.

14. PARK YOUR CAR FACING EAST.

Try to face the east when parking overnight. This way, as the sun rises it will melt some of the snow and make it easier to scrape ice off your car.

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