Police have announced that they will fine drivers who fail to remove snow from their cars amidst criticism from the AA of drivers with an "igloo mentality". Driving a vehicle covered in heavy snow is not only potentially very dangerous to passing pedestrians and other vehicles, as chunks of snow and ice could break off as the vehicle moves, but overhanging snow could also obscure license plates which is in itself an offence in the UK.
Before setting off on your journey, it's important that you give yourself extra time in the mornings to clear your car of ice and snow so that it is ready and safe to drive.
If you know that you're not going to have much time to prepare your car in the mornings, consider trying to prevent the formation of ice instead. Throw an old sheet over the front and back windows, using the doors to keep them in place. Although this won't completely prevent ice, it'll definitely mean that less ice forms. You can also buy large elasticated sheets, almost like a mattress top sheet, that you can pull over the vehicle that will do much the same job.
If heavy snow is forecast, forego the sheets – the snow will weigh them down too much for you to pull them off and you'll find it hard to scrape the snow off without getting the scraper stuck on the blanket. Using a good screenwash that protects the car down to -35C should also help to prevent the screen from freezing too badly.
Many people still use the boiling water trick on their iced windscreens - but this is probably the worst thing you can do. Boiling hot water poured onto an ice cold windscreen could literally crack the window due to the thermal shock from the sudden change in temperature. Instead, turn the car on, fire up the heaters and direct the heat towards the windscreen and the back window, if possible. The change in temperature will be gradual, rather than sudden, and so will not cause cracks in the windows.
Spritz a de-icer onto the windows and around door handles and if necessary, use a scraper (gently!) to get rid of particularly big patches of ice. If you don't have any de-icer to hand, combine water and vinegar in a 1:1 solution in a spray bottle – it's just as effective and a fraction of the price too. You can use lukewarm water too, but do not use boiling water.
Removing snow from the vehicle is a little bit easier. Your ice scraper will usually be all you need, although if the snow is particularly heavy, a soft brush that won't scratch your car's paint will also do the job nicely.
Make sure to remove snow from the roof, and the bonnet, as well as the windows. Ensure that no snow covers the license plates and brush it so that it falls to the sides of the car, rather than in front or behind the car, so that you don't get stuck on your driveway. Keep a snow shovel in the vehicle, too, so that you can clear your driveway or dig yourself out should you get stuck in a patch of snow - just don't use it on your car!
Once you've removed the bulk of the snow, make sure that you remove any ice underneath too. And although this one might sound obvious, but if you do start your car in the morning to warm it up and it struggles to turn over (perhaps you need a new battery?) then please don't leave it running without keeping close by. An unlocked car with a running engine is like an open invitation for would-be thieves, even first thing in the morning!