Scraping my windshield every morning during winter months is a cumbersome and time-consuming task. I had the idea that I could just drive through the car wash (I have a membership) every morning to do the job for me, since it is right next to my house and I would only have to scrape a little bit to get there safely. This would probably take about the same amount of time as scraping, but I could just sit in my car and not have to brave the elements.

Are there any good reasons why I should not do this? Could it crack my cold windshield? Is washing my car every day bad for the paint? Could the left over water that isn't dried affect my brakes or traction or maybe seal my door shut if it was really cold?

This question addresses making cold cars driveable in the morning, but no one mentions the possibility of using a car wash: Best routine for making a frozen car driveable

5 Answers 5


I'm not convinced this would even work. The car has been cold-soaked to a temperature below 0. When you spray water on that cold surface, at least some of it will freeze. If the car wash used warm water you'd be okay, but I don't think that's done in practice (there's no need to use warm water, and it'd cost a lot to warm up the water).

If there's any ice on the car already, the problem gets worse. The rotating brushes will pick up shards of ice and throw them around, potentially hitting the car.


No, you cannot. You state that " I would only have to scrape a little bit to get there safely", however this is not correct - you should clear ALL essential windows before you move the car - the first mile or so as you get out of your neighbourhood are probably the most dangerous, as you will be more likely to encounter pedestrians, cyclists, etc, who you might not be able to see if your windows are not clear.

I would recommend following some of the ideas discussed in the linked question, particularly covering the windscreen to stop it icing up in the first place - then you only have to scrape the side windows.

  • 1
    And in many countries driving with only partially de-iced windows is a serious offense. Where I live that's a €280 ticket.
    – Tonny
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 12:16
  • Okay, this answer misses the majority of the question. Ignoring the fact that I only have to go about 20 ft to the car wash, the bulk of my question was not whether it was safe to get to the car wash but whether the car wash would be harmful to the car in its cold condition on a repeated basis.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 16:42
  • @TBear I see nothing in your question about "20 ft", only that the car wash is "on the way out of [your] neighborhood".
    – user
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 17:52
  • Edited to reflect that. This answer still has little to do with my question with or without that detail.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 19:58

If it's cold enough to have ice covering your windshield, the leftover water will ice up your doors and locks. Depending how soon and how much you use your brakes, you could have some ice forming on the pads and rotors. Daily carwashes will fade your paint real quick.

If you do not want to brave the elements, get your car warmed up and use the defrost heater for the front windshield and the electric defrost for the rear. It will take a while, but with a keyfob, you can leave your vehicle running for about 20 minutes, lock it and go back in the house to finish your morning coffee.


You really need to get the car sufficiently warm that the ice melts. the real danger with using any other method is that any residual film of water can re-freeze very quickly, especially once the car starts moving through cold air. This is quite a dangerous situation as you can very quickly lose all visibility.

Note that in many countries it is illegal to drive without a defined area of the windscreen clear (usually defined as the area swept by the wipers).

A much better solution is to install either a key-less running system or block heater so you can get the car properly warmed up in plenty of time.


I do commend you for asking before trying. I heard of one person who tried boiling water on his windscreen: not a good idea. :) As others have already stated, washer fluid will not solve your problem. I agree with @Hobbes: if the temperature is cold enough, trying will result in the fluid freezing to the window.

What I do usually is to start the car, turn the heat and defrost on full blast, then go out and brush all the snow off the car. Then I go inside, gather whatever I need for the trip, leaving the car idling for 5-10 minutes or so, depending on the temperature.

By the time I come out, usually the heat from the car has melted the ice sufficiently so that it scrapes of very easily. The upside of this tactic is that the car is nice and warm when you drive off. The downside is that in order to do it legally in some provinces/states, you have to go out and rev the motor every 3 minutes. Better for the environment... figure that one out for me. :)

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