No, we don’t simply mean wearing socks on your feet. These articles of clothing can serve multiple purposes, as seen here stretched over windshield wipers to keep them free of ice and snow when the car is parked. They also work surprisingly well when worn outside your shoes for giving extra traction on snow and ice, in case you need to push a stuck car out of a snow bank. And to help eliminate fog and ice on interior windows, fill a sock with cat litter, tie it off, and leave it in the car. The litter will absorb moisture.
Plastic bags on mirrors
Visibility is always important in a car, but it's especially true when driving conditions are sketchy. Clearing ice and snow from side mirrors can be extremely tough even for cars with heated mirrors, so slip plastic bags over them when parked to keep the snow and ice at bay. Use a rubber band to make sure the wind doesn’t whip the bags away, and don't forget to remove them before heading off.
We already mentioned the litter-in-the-sock trick for moisture inside a car, but anyone living where winter is a full-on season of snow should always carry a bag of generic cat litter in the back. This stuff is phenomenal for providing traction on slick surfaces should you get stuck. No, it won’t help if you’re 20 feet off the road in a foot of snow, but if you’re wedged in a parking lot snow drift or struggling to get up an icy slope, sprinkling cat litter on the ground can mean the difference between freedom or really getting stuck.
Penny test for tires
Speaking of traction, getting through winter unscathed comes down to just how good your tires are. This isn’t a hack so much as a guideline for determining if your tires are junk. Stick a penny into the tread, head first. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it means you only have 2/32 of an inch of tread (or less), and that’s dangerous on merely wet roads, never mind snow. Replace such tires immediately – preferably with proper winter rubber but at least something that won’t turn into a slick at the first hint of snow.
Shaving cream on the windows
Remember back in high school when you pranked people by covering their windows with shaving cream? Similar chemicals are used in dedicated anti-fogging products for glass, so if you do the same thing on the inside (albeit using much less shaving cream) and wipe it clean, you can have fog-free glass at a much lower price.
Spray lubricant on door seals and locks
Technically, any penetrating lubricant or even cooking spray will work for this, but WD-40 is the old standby. Squirting a bit of lube on the rubber weatherstrip around the doors should keep them from freezing shut, and the same goes for the door locks. This is particularly useful if there’s a rain-to-snow or freezing rain weather event in the forecast.
Leaf blower to clear the car
Leaf blowers aren’t just for making piles of leaves around Halloween. In the winter, they are amazingly effective at clearing snow off cars. And since the leaf blower never actually touches the car, it’s much safer for the paint as opposed to using a brush or snow broom. Car dealerships have used the leaf blower hack for decades, but this trick only works with a reasonably dry, fluffy snow that isn’t more than three or four inches deep. Still, when it works, you can clear an entire car – including all the nooks and crannies – in less than a minute.
Tips to ponder
Aside from these hacks, here are few miscellaneous tips to help you survive winter’s worst:
- When possible, park your car facing east. Even in bitter cold, the first rays of sun can help melt snow off the windshield.
- Open windows before parking overnight to let cold, dry air inside. This can help reduce moisture and the chance you’ll have an icy windshield in the morning. Of course, don’t forget to put the windows back up before you shut the car off.
- Shift automatic transmissions to neutral when trying to stop on extremely slick roads. You’ll be shocked at how much easier it is to control and stop without the engine feeding even a tiny amount of power to the wheels.
- Once you take the socks off your windshield wiper blades, run a cloth soaked with rubbing alcohol over them to help keep ice from building up.
- If your door locks do freeze, use a straw to blow hot breath directly into the lock. You can also try heating up your key with a lighter and sticking it into the lock.
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