How to Keep a Car Window from Freezing Shut

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Side view of an old car on the side of the road of Mt. Equinox in Vermont with the windows frozen

You wake up in the morning and find your car windows covered in ice. The ice is so bad that the windows are frozen shut, and your door might even be jammed closed. If you want to find a quick solution to this problem, you came to the right place.

The best way to avoid ice is to park in a garage or cover your vehicle with a high-quality car cover. If those options aren’t available, use cooking spray, WD-40, or a silicone spray to keep your windows greased and ice-free. Whenever possible, avoid parking in the grass and use the sun to help you melt whatever ice forms.

In this guide, I’ll help you in three ways: I’ll help you prevent your window from freezing, deal with a frozen window, and understand what not to do if you have a frozen window.

Why Do Windows Freeze Shut?

Your car window is seated in a strip of rubber, called the weatherstripping. When ice forms at this junction, the window will likely freeze shut. There’s also a strip of rubber at the base of your window that keeps debris away from the motor inside of your door.

This is another area where freezing is common.

Close up of a frozen car mirror with ice on both the mirror and window

Ice forms on your window just like it does anywhere else. When there’s moisture on the surface or in the air and the temperature gets low enough, ice is created.

When a window is frozen to the point where it won’t roll down, that simply means that the ice is conjoining your window to another part of your car — again, it’s likely going to happen along the strips of rubber I was just talking about.

If the whole door won’t open, that’s another story. This means that ice formed within the crack between the door and the doorjamb. This crack is often too small to easily clean. To avoid scratching your car paint, it’s best to put away the razorblade or key that you were going to use to scrape out this area.

Why Worry About a Frozen Window?

There are a few big reasons why you should avoid your window freezing in the first place. If you’ve dealt with a frozen window, you’re probably familiar with these problems already. I put together this guide to help you avoid this issue because I personally know how annoying a frozen window can be.

It Wastes Your Time

First and foremost, a frozen window wastes your time in the morning. Instead of jumping in the car and driving to work, you’ll have to spend minutes dealing with the issue.

Who wants to waste time scraping their window or waiting for it to thaw?

It Can Block Your Vision

Any amount of ice on your windows will impair your vision. This poses a big safety risk and can be a life-threatening problem.

A person scraping the ice off the car's front windshield

I’ve seen too many people driving in New England on a cold morning with frost all over their windows. Windows need to be transparent or else you can’t correctly drive your car, so these icy windows are massive blind spots for the driver.

Might Jam Your Door Closed

In a severe case, a frozen window could just be the start of your problems. There’s a chance that your entire door is frozen closed.

In my experience, this tends to happen when it rains and then gets cold overnight. The gap around your door will get bonded together with ice, and your door handle might even be frozen over. This takes more than just a few minutes to fix.

Your Window’s Motor Suffers

If your window has ice on any part of it, you can burn out the motor if you try to roll down the window.

Imagine you go to Dunkin Donut’s drive-thru in the morning to warm yourself up with a cup of coffee. You notice there’s ice on your window but disregard it and roll down the window anyway.

Driver drinking a cup of hot coffee with one hand and holding the steering wheel with the other and driving during the winter

There’s a chance the ice can get lodged or move something out of position within your door. There’s also a chance that the motor will get overworked since it has to deal with the extra force of ice that doesn’t want to move. In either of these cases, you could be left with a window motor that doesn’t work or a window that keeps sliding down afterward.

Just like that, you’ll have to finish your commute with a window that won’t roll up. 

Fixing a window costs time and money that can be avoided by dealing with the ice in the first place.

How to Keep a Car Window from Freezing Shut

Now it’s time for the good stuff — in this section I’ll talk all about preventing your car window from freezing shut. If your window is already frozen, then skip to the following sections and I’ll help you out.

Open Your Windows Briefly Before Turning Off Your Car

This is a trick that I started using last winter, and it works surprisingly well. Remember that ice forms when condensation is in the air. This commonly happens when the inside temperature is different than the exterior temperature.

After you park your car for the evening, the inside will undoubtedly have warm air in it. Simply sitting in a car will warm it up since your body heat is higher than ambient temperatures during winter.

Well, that hot air is going to keep your car’s interior warm as outside temperatures go down. After a while, your car has a perfect environment to start icing your windows.

Close up of a man pressing the button on the car's window switch

What you should do is roll down your windows for a few seconds before you turn your car off. This allows a lot of the hot air to get out of the car. You should also make sure your HVAC vents are open just so air can move around while you’re parked overnight.

In the morning, you should find ice-free windows.

As a tip, never roll up your windows if your car is turned off. Since the car isn’t running, the battery alone will power the motors which slightly drains the battery. Doing this enough can kill a battery.

Park In a Garage

The number one way to avoid ice on your windows is to park your car in a garage overnight. I know that this isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. For some people, that means cleaning up their garage so a car can be parked there. For others, you can consider renting a garage or parking garage spot near your house.

Garages are great at keeping Mother Nature away from your car. They are naturally insulated, so you don’t have to worry about cold weather freezing your windows.

In addition, parking in a garage has many benefits. A lot of those benefits will boost the resale value of your car and extend its life.

Use a Car Cover

If you can’t find a garage to park in, the next best thing is to use a car cover. I’ve talked about car covers a lot on this blog, and I really like them.

If you didn’t know, a car cover is a canvas, cloth, fabric, or plastic piece that goes over your car and covers most of the exterior. They are typically created to fit certain cars, and a lot of them stretch or fasten around your car for a snug fit.

Car cover on a car parked next to a BMW SUV with very cold ice and snow showing how effective it is in protecting the vehicle

The idea is that this cover acts as a shield for your car. Ice won’t be able to form, because outside air can’t get to your car’s windows in the first place.

A car cover doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it’s easy to install and remove. If you’re forced to park outside, I would highly recommend getting a car cover.

Avoid Parking in the Grass

Another thing to point out is that it matters where you park. If you park in a grassy area overnight, you’re more likely to find ice on your windows in the morning.

Why? It’s because grass holds a lot of moisture in it. If you’re an early bird, you probably noticed frost on the grass first thing in the morning on a cold day. This is proof of the extra moisture you’ll find on grass.

VW Volkswagen Golf parked on the grass near the water red color

As your car sits in this moisture, your windows are more susceptible to freeze. On top of that, any rust on your car will get worse quickly, and your car’s undercarriage can get attacked by this extra water in the air.

In general, you should avoid parking in the grass whenever you have the choice. Not only does it keep your car rust-free and ice-free, but it also prevents your car from getting stuck in mud or snow overnight.

Use Cooking Spray

A great DIY fix to freezing windows can be found in your kitchen. A little bit of cooking spray can work wonders on your windows. This spray is typically used on a pan before you cook food, and it’s designed to be highly lubricious and oily.

Those same characteristics can potentially save your windows from ice. The science behind it is that you’re changing the surface tension of your windows. On top of that, water and oil don’t get along, so ice can’t form as long as the cooking spray has been freshly sprayed on the windows.

Some of my buddies use ChapStick for the same effect, but it’s a lot faster to just use cooking spray.

Keep in mind, that you don’t want to get this oil on your car’s paint or interior. I suggest rolling your window down about halfway, then spraying the top few inches of the glass to protect it.

Coat the Weatherstripping with WD-40

WD-40 seems to be the cure-all for a lot of DIYing around the house. In this case, it can be used to keep ice away from the tops of your windows.

The weatherstripping is rubber pieces that come in contact with the glass. It’s a very common area for ice to show up, and it will prevent your window from rolling down.

WD-40 – Multi-Use Product with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS – 14.4 oz. – 2-Pack

WD-40 - Multi-Use Product with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS - 14.4 oz. - 2-Pack
WD-40

All you have to do is roll your windows down fully and grab your can of WD-40. Spray a generous amount along the center of the weatherstripping so it applies to both sides.

Use a paper towel to catch any extra spray that drips down and give it a few minutes to dry. From there, roll your windows up and you should be fine for a while.

Use Silicone Spray on Your Windows

Another tip that might work is using silicone spray. This is another highly lubricious, water-repelling substance. To apply it, you’ll need to spray it on a microfiber towel then use the towel to wipe down the inside and outside of the windows.

This will cause your windows to smear a little bit, but you can still see out of the glass clearly.

I would only suggest this tip for someone who lives in an especially cold area where ice is very common.

Utilize the Sun

If it’s a weekend, you’re retired, or you have some time to spare, let nature help you out. I’m talking about the melting powers of the sun.

POV sitting inside the driver's seat driving on a road with snow during the winter with the sun shining through the trees

To safely melt away the ice on a car that’s parked outside, just wait long enough for the sun to do its job. This requires you to be parked outside in the first place and might take a few hours.

Quick Ways to Thaw Your Windows

What happens if your windows are already frozen? You can use the previous section to prevent it in the future, but this section will help you deal with the problem at hand. Let’s talk about quick ways to get ice off your windows.

Remote Start Your Defrosters

Personally, my favorite solution is to remotely start my car. My car key has a button that idles the car without having to get in the vehicle.

I’ll remote start my car then wait a few minutes. By that time, the defrosters are at a good temperature to start melting away the ice on the windows.

Use an Ice Scraper

The traditional method of getting rid of ice is with an ice-scraper. If you have a snow brush with a plastic scraper on the other side, you already have an ice scraper.

27″ Snow Brush and Ice Scraper with a foam handle

Snow brush ice scraper for cars
Snow Brush & Ice Scraper

This scraper is used to get rid of tough ice from delicate parts of your car, like the windows. Use a little bit of force and scrape the plastic around your windows until the ice is completely gone.

You should also use this method in junction with your car’s defrosters. It makes life a little easier when your car helps thaw some of the ice.

Use a De-Icer

If your window or door is fully frozen shut, you’ll need to use a little bit of chemistry. There are special de-icers you can buy at your local auto shop or on Amazon.

The product is sprayed directly on the ice on your car. It then breaks down the ice and melts it away in seconds.

Prestone Windshield De-Icer – 17oz. Aerosol (TWIN PACK)

Prestone AS244 Windshield De-Icer - 17oz. Aerosol (TWIN PACK)
Prestone Windshield De-Icer

It’s worth mentioning that de-icers can cause some damage to plastic and rubber over time. It’s a nice quick solution, but it shouldn’t be relied on as a long-term solution.

In other words, go ahead and use the de-icer today, but make sure you prevent the ice in the future so you don’t need to pick up the can again.

Things to Avoid with a Frozen Window

In addition, there are some big problems that you can potentially run into. If you’re not careful, you can do extensive damage to your car while trying to thaw your frozen window. Take a look at these things to avoid.

Don’t Use Hot Water

Never use hot water to thaw a frozen window. Theoretically, it makes sense that a hot liquid should do a good job of melting cold ice. In reality, it’s one of the worst things you can do.

Water boiling inside a pot on an electric stove

There’s a lot of science that goes into it, but I’ll spare you the specifics. Essentially, the hot water can cause your windows to shatter if the temperature difference is too big.

At the same time, you run the risk of burning your skin from the hot water. To make matters worse, very hot liquids can freeze faster than lukewarm ones. That means that you can further ice up your car if you use hot water.

Don’t Force the Window to Roll Down

You should also avoid the urge to roll down your windows to get rid of the ice. It seems like a convenient solution, but it will damage your window motors. These cost hundreds of dollars to repair and the troubleshooting steps are pretty time-consuming.

In fact, you shouldn’t even roll down your windows at the drive-thru if your windows have ice on them. Instead, open your car door.

Conclusion

Now you’re an expert when it comes to your car’s windows and ice. I just reviewed some ways to avoid a window from freezing shut, some quick solutions to thaw a frozen window, and some things to avoid doing to a frozen window.

If you have any more car questions, take a look at my blog. I have plenty of DIY guides to keep your car clean, healthy, and problem-free. As always, drop a comment below if this guide helped you at all. Also, take a look at my list of recommended car products — they might make your life a little easier.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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