Camping and Caravanning, Doctor Diesel, Features

Cold Comfort

Could you please update me on the reasons why, as you preach, you shouldn’t warm up diesels in your driveway with the engine running, when the windows are frozen up, to clear the windows before you drive off. More to the point, what’s the safe and practical alternative to this?
Geoff King

Aha! Not by any chance trying to catch me out, are you Geoff? It’s actually quite a tough question, as the alternative solutions are not that simple. There’s no easy way, to be totally honest, certainly not for everyone. But here are a number of suggestions which either individually or in combination, should get you on the road quickly, with clear vision, and without treating your engine badly. That’s why you shouldn’t leave the car ticking over – diesels are so efficient that the waste heat will take ages to heat up the coolant, and give warm air to your heater. Meanwhile the engine is running in bad conditions that allow water and corrosive contaminants to build up in your oil and around the engine and its fuel system, and soot to build up in your particulate filter. Let’s get to the nitty gritty!

1 Clear out that garage that’s full of old kitchen units, your beer brewing kit, old bicycles with flat tyres, and the rabbit hutch that belonged to Sammy the bunny who died three years ago. Then put the car in there on winter nights. It won’t stay that warm, but the windows will be clear and you’ll get a much quicker warm-up by driving, rather than a very slow one on the driveway.

2 Get a car with a heated windscreen. Crazy, isn’t it, but most cars have had heated rear windows for decades, but only a few makers offer them widely on their cars, and as an optional extra they are quite expensive. As someone blogged “It’s bleeding marvellous watching people scraping their screens while the ice melts in front of your eyes.”

3 That doesn’t clear the side windows though, which is essential for safe driving, so you’ll still need some de-icer spray and maybe a scraper, if your car’s not being put away in the garage overnight.

4 You’ll find that many newer diesels now warm up much quicker than before, and some cars have special settings for fast windscreen clearing, which are actually surprisingly effective.

5 Finally, you can buy windscreen covers and full car covers of various sizes that can help a lot. Bluecol do a windscreen only magnet-fixed metallised fabric Frost Protector for £9.99, Halfords Advanced All Seasons full Car Cover is a better bet, as their cheaper ones are not fully waterproof and have poor fixings. Classic Additions do well made waterproof top covers (windows and roof only) from around £40, while Draper sell an impressive combined windscreen, door mirror and front window cover held in place by the doors for £19.95.

Hope these ideas help!

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