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Tips for clearing your car after a snow storm

Consumer Reports News: December 24, 2010 10:08 AM

You better clean off your car from snow and ice this winter season, especially if you live in New Jersey. A new law passed in October could fine drivers up to $75 for failing to clean snow and ice off their car before hitting the road.

Before the law was passed, drivers would only face a fine if the snow and ice that flew off the car caused damage to another vehicle or injury. Those fines ran between $200 and $1,000. However, even if there isn’t an accident, this new law could fine drivers between $25 and $75.

Pennsylvania also has a similar law. Most other states don’t have a separate law, but there are laws against driving with obstructed vision, which could also result in a ticket for having any material that blocks or reduces the driver’s view. Such law mostly deals with GPS or other windshield-mounted units, but snow or ice could be included in the definition.

Driving with snow and ice on your car is hazardous. Not only could it hinder visibility while driving, it could also cause an accident. Here are some tips for clearing off your car after a snow storm.

  • Use a brush or ice scraper to take off snow and ice from the windshield, side mirrors headlights, wheel wells, and tailpipe. Don’t force the wipers, for if they are frozen in place, you may end up damaging them or the motors.
  • Use a de-icing fluid on the windshield, if necessary. (Just remember don’t store it in your car).
  • Use a clean, soft-bristled broom to remove debris off the roof. Don’t use anything rougher or a shovel as that will cause scratches to the paint.
  • If the vehicle is an SUV or taller—grab a step stool to help access the roof
  • Start the car and put on the front and rear defrosters on high while you clean off the exterior. (Don’t start the car too early as you will waste gas. Also, don’t idle in a closed garage).
  • Don’t use hot water to remove ice from the glass—it will cause it to shatter.

For more winter driving tips, see our guide.

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