Nothing about living in a snowy climate is easy, but life with a snowy, frozen car doesn't have to be the worst part of your day. With a few clever hacks and some anti-weather tactics, you can fight off frozen windshields, icy locks, and even stubborn car doors, while keeping your car running smooth all winter.
When the lock on one or more of your car doors is frozen shut, the warmth of your breath may be all you need to get in. To help focus your hot breath into the keyhole, use a straw or toilet paper tube. You could also just warm your key up with a lighter, which may look less silly in public. Often, this is all it takes to melt the ice in and around the lock.
You could also use a form of alcohol to unfreeze frozen doors, locks, and windshield wipers when you can't get inside your snowed-in car. Chances are, you have a bottle of hand sanitizer or nail polish remover hiding somewhere in your bag or home; keep one handy during the winter months.
If your car doors have a tendency to freeze shut in the coldest of temperatures, you can prevent it with some cooking spray. Coat all of the rubber parts of your car's doors with a greasy spray like Pam, which will lubricant them and prevent any ice from forming. Impossible-to-open doors are typically the result of snow that rests in open spaces, melts, and refreezes during the night, so this trick will help keep it from happening.
The best way to get a fresh coat of snow off your windshield, and to prevent your wipers from freezing to your car, is to use a pair of socks, according to both This Old House and Real Simple. Just slide one sock over each wiper blade, and if you want, take it a step further and pull the wipers away from the windshield, just to make doubly sure you can get them working in the morning.
If the inside of your car windows and windshield fog up often, prevent this from happening by adding a coating of shaving cream. Special de-fogging products and shaving cream share many ingredients, so the latter will keep fog from forming on everything from glasses to windows, just like it's more expensive counterpart. Just a small amount wiped across the inside of your car's windows will work.
There's one handy liquid that won't freeze in winter temperatures: alcohol. So, if you're in need of windshield washer fluid that won't solidify into ice, make your own with isopropyl alcohol and liquid Castile soap. This mixture is safe for your car and your winter driving needs. The alcohol keeps the entire mixture from turning into ice, while the Castile soap ensures your car's windshield won't just be wiping alcohol off each time you spray this solution.
If you don't want to change your windshield washer fluid, you can just spritz the outside of your car's windows with a mix of water and vinegar the night before.
If you're still struggling with foggy windows, you can try keeping kitty litter in your car. Created to soak up moisture in a cat box, cat litter also works to pull out the moisture in the air inside your car. Just keep a sock filled with it in your vehicle near the biggest problem window.
While you're adding kitty litter to the interior of your car, consider placing a bag or two in the trunk as well if you drive a rear-wheel vehicle. Keeping heavy items, like bags of litter or even sandbags, helps increase your car's traction by placing weight right atop the drive wheels. As an added bonus, you can break open the kitty litter if you ever need traction in order to get out of an icy, slushy, or muddy spot. Toss some beneath your tires, and you'll be able to get back on the road.
Another tip recommended in winter is drying out the interior of your car. In an effort to fight off fog and steamy windows in a hurry, you can dry out the moisture in the air by rolling down your windows and letting the outside air into your car. Winter weather, and air, is notoriously dry.
Or, if you need to quickly eliminate the moisture gathering while driving, turn on your car's air conditioning. Though it'll keep you colder rather than toasty and warm, it's a fantastic defogger. Air conditioning dehumidifies air, which means it will also defog your windows.
You could also wrap your side mirrors with plastic bags to keep ice off, keep a spare car mat for extra traction when kitty litter won't suffice, and always park your vehicle facing east so the sun will help melt your windshield.