from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

There’s a seemingly endless list of tiny mistakes that can damage your car. Seems everything, even things as innocuous as your lowly ice scraper can do damage if not used properly. No joke here!

Ice scrapers are made of plastic so you would naturally assume that using one on glass would be safe. After all, glass is harder than plastic so plastic can’t damage glass; or can it? Such a simple tool, such a simple job, such simple rules yet drivers routinely manage to damage their cars with ice scrapers. The rules: 1. Keep the scraper flat against the glass 2. Never use a scraper’s corner 3. Never use a scraper on a mirror or paint.

It’s a cold morning, the covers feel wonderful, and you fall victim to alarm-ignore. You’re so cozy you forget one of winter’s basic edicts, which plainly states: Sleep in and your car is guaranteed to be a giant ice cube. Out the door, gotta hurry, can’t be late but this %#&%@$ scraper won’t even scratch the damn ice. Hey, maybe if I turn it on its edge and use the sharp corner I can break up the ice. Yea, it works!

Wow I just found a great way to break up thick ice on a windshield. Clever! But as you drive and the windshield defrosts you notice what look like crayon marks on the glass. Wonder what that’s about? Oh well I’ll get it later. But later the marks don’t wipe off. Window cleaner, glass polish, nothing works, the marks are actually scratches in the glass from the sharp corners of your “plastic” ice scraper. Oops, not so clever was it?

You now know what countless others have discovered; plastic can damage glass! Next you’ll learn that getting rid of the distracting scratches is tough. The cheapest fix is to have a glass shop buff the windshield but buffing doesn’t always work which means a new windshield. Whether it takes buffing or replacing, the fix is expensive. But you went whole hog and cleaned your outside mirrors using your great new process. So now you also know the glass in a mirror is even easier to damage than windshield glass and you will soon learn they’re ridiculously expensive too.

Most icing problems can be avoided with windshield covers or spray de-icer Windshield covers are used to cover the windshield and prevent snow and ice fromcking to the glass. They wrap around the front pillars and are held in place by shutting them into the doors. In the morning open the doors and remove the cover along with the snow and ice. Or you melt the ice by spraying it with de-icer.

But you’re one of those drivers who does everything wrong and even the doors are frozen shut. Frozen doors are easily prevented by treating the rubber seals around the doors with silicone. Silicone lubricates the rubber and is so slippery it keeps ice from freezing the rubber to the car’s body. But you still can’t open the door because the lock is frozen. If you can’t unlock the door you can’t open the door. For longer life and freeze protection all locks should be lubricated with graphite lock lube twice a year.

Another gotcha in the, “I’m late, gotta get going,” saga is clearing ice from the side windows. Although it’s a time honored tradition do not dump hot water over the doors and windows! On an ancient car perhaps, but on modern cars, never!

Today car doors are packed full of electronics that could be damaged if soaked with hot water on an icy-cold day. Doors now have electronic interior-light switches, one-touch window relays and modules, automatic door lock controllers, and more. Dousing that door full of sophisticated electronic gizmos with hot water could lead to an expensive shop visit. Even if you understand that these parts routinely get wet when it rains don’t think hot water is okay because it never rains hot water.

None of this allows an extra snooze cycle but they’re all cheap, simple ways to reduce cold-morning hassles and scary-expensive repair bills.