Removing snow from your vehicle might be necessary before you can safely drive off. Leaving lots of snow on your vehicle can be illegal and result in a fine and/or unsafe situations. Removing the snow safely and properly makes it safer for you and your surrounding, and will prevent surface imperfections that need to be polished out.
Why removing snow from a vehicle
When a vehicle is covered with snow, you can’t look out of the windows properly, which is necessary when driving. For this reason alone it’s needed to clear the windows. But seeing as snow can be blown off while driving, it is required to remove as much as you can before you drive on the public road. Not doing this doesn’t only put other traffic members at risk, it can also result in a fine. Snow and ice are already fairly dangerous conditions to drive in, by not removing as much snow as possible, you increase that risk for others and yourself.
Safe methods of removing snow
A tool like a leaf blower can be used to simply blow the snow from the vehicle. It is an easy and quick way to remove snow from a vehicle without having to contact the surface directly. However, because of the noise, it is not recommended to do this early in the morning. It can also create a cloud of snow in the direction you blow the snow at, which might not be appreciated.
Rinsing off the snow with cold water (just above freezing), will quickly remove the snow. Please note that the water the runs off your car can freeze and make the pavement very slippery and dangerous for pedestrians. In some cases, the water can also re-freeze before it completely runs off the vehicle. Although this is an effective and quick method, it should only be used in situations where the formation of ice doesn’t affect anybody else.
A car cover might be one of the safest and easiest ways to remove snow without affecting anybody else. You can either brush off the snow without having to worry about scratching your paintwork, or simple take the cover off and shake off the snow. However, a good car cover that does not scratch the paintwork is costly. A cheap car cover is much more likely to scratch the paintwork.
Parking the car in a heated place
If you happen to have a heated place, like a garage, parking the car inside will simply melt the snow from the vehicle. The molten snow will result in a fair bit of water, so make sure all that water can go somewhere. Added benefit will be that the frost or ice on the windows will also melt.
If you are lucky enough to live very close to a carwash, you could use the “spotless rinse” from the “Do it yourself” bay to blast off the snow. However, keep in mind that some of the water can re-freeze before running completely off.
Methods that are not recommended
Using a brush to brush off the snow will likely result in scratches in your paintwork. The brush will have rough hairs, that drag over the paintwork. Any dirt it comes across gets dragged over the surface as well, increase the imperfections you are causing to the surface.
Using hot water to melt it off
Although hot water will make the snow melt a lot quicker, it can also cause problems. Hot water will have a temperature that is much higher then that of the surface of the vehicle, applying hot water will make the temperature rise very quickly in isolated areas. This can cause stress in the material. With glass, this can result in cracks and in rare cases to even shatter the glass completely. Due to the Mpemba-effect, hot water can also (re-)freeze faster then cold water, causing other issues.
Scraping off snow
Although ice-scrapers work good on glass, they are also very rough. Glass is much harder then paintwork, and using an ice-scraper on paintwork will very likely result in scratches and other deep surface imperfections that need to be polished out. In some cases you can even cause damage that would require a respray or spot-repair.
Amount of snow that needs to be removed
Many people only remove snow from the front and back windows, maybe even from the headlights. But any form of loose snow needs to removed from the vehicle. The pile of snow on the bonnet, the roof and the boot all need to be removed. The danger is that a chunk of that snow can blow off while driving and hit another car. This could either cause damage to the other car, or temporarily affect their ability to see their surroundings. They could crash because they can’t look out of their window properly. In most places it is required by law that the bonnet, hood and bonnet are free of snow. The front windscreen, rear screen and the front side windows need to be clear and free of ice or frost.