Winter is a great time to pile into the car and head up to your favorite winter hideaways, to hit the slopes or to simply visit your friends and family. Regardless of where your winter road trip takes you, with all the modern safety features on new vehicles, driving in snowy or icy conditions is safer than ever before. Safety features such as adaptive headlights, lane-keeping assistance, and even the invention of snow/winter tires can all help you stay safe when you are out on the road during the winter months.
Yet, despite all these safety features, drivers can still face a lot of hazards in the wintertime. Some hazards, such as icy driveways and walkways, can even be encountered before you even get in the car. Knowing how to melt the ice in your driveway can help you stay safe while you get ready to head out on the road this winter.
What Are the Most Common Winter Hazards?
When the weather starts to get cold, all kinds of potentially dangerous conditions can appear for drivers. Even a simple snowfall and rain shower can be dangerous to you and your vehicle if you aren’t careful. To help you prepare your vehicle for winter, it is first important to know the types of hazards you should be on the lookout for when the winter months roll around.
Some of the most common winter hazards drivers can face are:
- Black ice
- Rain and snow
- Deteriorating roads
- Low visibility
- Low tire pressure
- Icy driveways and walkways
How to Melt Ice on Your Driveway
Icy driveways can be a potentially hazardous byproduct of freezing temperatures. As a heavy foot traffic area, to begin with, keeping your driveway or walkway free of ice can help prevent dangerous falls during the winter. So unless you have a heated driveway, finding easy-to-use DIY methods to melt ice in your driveway is a must.
To help you stay safe when it comes to melting ice on your driveway, you can try some of these popular at-home methods:
Rubbing Alcohol and Dish Soap
A solution of standard isopropyl alcohol (more commonly known as rubbing alcohol) and dish soap is one of the best at-home de-icers you can make. This is due to the chemical composition of rubbing alcohol having a lower freezing point than water. It works much like ethylene glycol does, which is the active ingredient in antifreeze. When mixed with dish soap, it will create penetrating bubbles that can melt ice and snow in a matter of seconds. Simply pour a solution of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dish soap onto your driveway and then scrape away the excess ice with a shovel or pick.
You can also use this same solution in a spray bottle to help de-ice portions of your vehicle, such as your side-view mirrors or your front and rear windshield. While useful, it is absolutely vital never to use any hot water or other warm liquids to de-ice your vehicle. This can be potentially damaging to you and your vehicle, as cold glass that comes into contact with a hot liquid can crack or shatter, resulting in potential injury and costly repairs.
Spread Rock Salt or Calcium Chloride
Spreading rock salt is one of the most common ways to break up hardened ice and is used by many cities and municipalities across the country. Similarly, calcium chloride is another chemical compound that looks and acts similar to rock salt. Each works to lower the freezing point of water and melt ice quickly, but before using either of these methods, both rock salt and calcium chloride can cause damage like rust and corrosion if not cleaned off regularly. If you do use rock salt or calcium chloride on your driveway, shovel it away as soon as the ice melts and be sure not to push it onto your lawn. Both can kill vegetation, and you won’t know that it has happened often until the springtime when the snow melts.
Use Magnesium Chloride
Magnesium chloride is a more environmentally-friendly method of melting ice than rock salt or calcium chloride and will cause less damage to your vehicle. It can be purchased at most hardware stores and melts ice at five degrees Fahrenheit. Magnesium chloride can be put into a fertilizer spreader and applied to your driveway in the evening so the ice won’t form overnight. It’s important to note that due to its chemical makeup, you may find yourself needing to use more magnesium chloride than other de-icers such as rock salt or calcium chloride, so be sure to buy more than what you believe you may need.
Spread Kitty Litter
Believe it or not, but kitty litter can help you stay safe on your icy driveway or walkway. While kitty litter won’t melt the ice, it will provide traction to give your feet and tires something to grab onto. If you don’t have the time to wait for the ice to melt and then shovel it away, kitty litter or sand can be a great alternative while avoiding any potential damage to your vehicle that rock salt or calcium chloride can cause.
Use Pickle Juice
Sometimes some of the most outlandish ideas can work, such as the tried and true “pickle juice” method. While unusual, it works well if you only need to de-ice small areas, such as your front steps or a portion of your driveway. Like how rock salt works, the high sodium content in a jar of pickle juice can quickly dissolve thin patches of ice. The salt is dissolved in the pickle brine, so it won’t leave any residue that can potentially damage your vehicle. Similar to the combination of rubbing alcohol and dish soap, pickle juice can also be a great option to use in a spray bottle for quick and convenient de-icing on small portions of your vehicle or home.
Lay Down Snow Melting Mats
If you want an efficient method of melting ice on your driveway, snow melting mats are a great option. Melting mats are waterproof and use electricity to produce heat that keeps ice from forming on your driveway or walkway. They can be laid out on your most high-traffic areas and will melt snow at two inches per hour. If you set them out before ice has a chance to form, they will prevent it from taking hold and give you a safe place to walk to your vehicle.
How to Keep Your Car Safe During the Winter Months
In addition to keeping your driveway free of ice, there are many other things you can do to keep yourself and your car safe in the winter. Taking extra precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road can help you feel more confident on the road and make winter driving much more enjoyable.
Some of the most common and highly recommended winter maintenance steps you should take include:
Checking Tire Pressure
Cold weather tends to reduce the amount of air pressure (or PSI) in your vehicle’s tires, which can cause a loss in traction. In fact, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, your tires can lose an entire pound of air pressure! Regularly checking that your tires are at the correct PSI can help you control your vehicle when you are out on the road.
Save when it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s snow or year-round tires with an EnduranceAdvantage™ auto protection plan. Along with providing you with comprehensive breakdown protection, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance coverage, including tire rotations and PSI checks. You can also get one year of Elite Benefits included with the purchase of ANY Endurance plan and a small activation fee. These include extra perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance and tire replacement should you have tire trouble due to low tire pressure or if you experience a tire blowout.
Keeping Gas Tank At Least Half Full
When the temperature drops, condensation in your gas lines can freeze and cause fractures and leaks. Keep your gas tank at least half-full during the winter to prevent condensation from forming in the first place.
Adding Polymer Wax
A polymer wax coating on your vehicle can help protect your paint from salt and grime that builds on the finish. By adding a wax coat to your washing routine, you can protect it even more and keep rust spots and holes from appearing on the exterior. Regularly cleaning your car can also help prevent this type of buildup, though be sure not to over-clean, as that could lead to issues such as “spider webbing.”
Leaving Wipers in an Upright Position
During the winter, pull your windshield wipers to the upright position before leaving your car overnight or for an extended period. Wipers can freeze to your windshield, and trying to free them can burn out the wiper motor. You should also never use your wipers to remove snow and ice from your windshield for the same reason. A dedicated ice scraper kept in your glove compartment can help you avoid this.
If you need windshield wiper replacements due to using them throughout the winter months, a vehicle protection plan like EnduranceAdvantage can help. Along with providing up to $3,500 in regular maintenance coverage, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with several other special, one-time services for even more coverage and savings. These include either a front or rear wiper blade set replacement and more to help you ensure your vehicle is ready for the winter weather ahead.
Protect Your Vehicle Year-Round With Endurance
Staying up-to-date on your car’s essential maintenance is essential for any car owner, especially during the winter months. With an auto protection plan such as EnduranceAdvantage, you can rest easy when it comes to maintaining your car, truck or SUV with up to $3,500 in maintenance benefits. These include essential services such as tire rotations, up to 3 oil and filter changes, engine diagnostic exams and more.
You can also receive 1 year of Elite Benefits with the purchase of any Endurance protection plan and a small activation fee. That means you can get access to great perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, two tire repairs or replacements per year, key fob replacement, and more — at no additional cost to you. To learn more about how you can find an Endurance protection plan that fits your needs and budget, request a free quote or give us a call directly at 866-918-1438. Be sure to visit our Learning Center, where you can find more articles on DIY tips, vehicle buying guides, expert auto advice, and more.