Here in the Midwest, we are pretty good at driving in snow, rain, sleet, and pretty much anything else.  But if you are not used to driving in bad weather, there are a few things to keep in mind. This especially true when preparing to drive in snow or icy conditions.

Get the Snow off Your Car

When it snows hard, before you get behind the wheel, you MUST clean as much snow off of the vehicle as possible. It sounds simple enough, get all the snow off your car. But there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your life a little easier.

I know you may be saying, “Duh, I know how to scrape ice off of windows.” Well,

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse

these instructions are for people who are new drivers or have moved to states where snow and ice is

Start the Car

I recommend that you first clear the snow and ice off of the driver’s side door. Get in the car and start it up. Turn the heater on. This will make large snow-removal tasks much easier.

Start at the Top

Next, start at the top. I recommend getting a large snow brush with a soft foam blade that will not scratch the paint on your vehicle. You can use the foam blade to push a large amount of heavy snow off of the car with considerable ease.

I like the brushes with handles that can be extended. With extended handles, I can clear the entire roof of the car while standing on only one side of the car. It is always a good idea to buy one of these brushes and keep it in the trunk of your car at all times. You do not want to be parked in a parking lot in the middle of Chicago in the winter without an ice and snow scraper.

Clear the Windows

After you clear the top of the car, start on the windows. Work your way around the entire car, clearing every window. Use the small, sharp or grooved plastic handle part to scrape away any ice. You may have to work at it, but the ice will eventually come off. If the snow is light, you may be able just to let the heat inside the car melt the ice and snow.  This is why I suggest starting the car first.

Don’t Forget the Hood

Next, move to the hood (or bonnet) of the car. If you leave the snow on the hood, it can drift off as you drive or fly off in chunks, making driving more dangerous by obstructing your view. You can also clean off the trunk (or boot). This is not as important, but if the snow is heavy and deep, it may be hard to see out of the back of the car unless you remove the snow.

See and be Seen

Now work on the headlights and tail lights. Be careful not to scratch the plastic lenses. Although, if you do, read my other article on restoring dull headlights. You can fix most scratches. It is really important to clean the lights, not only so you can see the road, but so other drivers can see you.

License Plates

Finally, be sure to clear any snow away from the license plates, front and back. It may seem like a pain, but I know people who have been pulled over because the police officer could not read their license plate.


Cleaning the snow off your car is not only important for you, but it is also important for other drivers as well. When a car is properly cleaned off, it is much safer to drive. Look for my upcoming articles on driving in bad weather for more tips and advice.

Written by Gary Pradel