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November 23, 2010


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I have lived in Canada all my life and we have always let the car\truck warm up during the winters. Not to get a warm steering wheel or to warm up the seats. But to clear the windows so you can see. No matter how much you scape the windows you can not get them as clear as when you have hot air blowing on them. I would much rather let the car idle for 10 minutes while I scrape the windows then drive a cold car with windows that are frosted over.

John B

How many of you anti-idling zealots gave spent 20 minutes chipping 1/2" of ice off your car in the morning or driving the the first 5 kilometres while trying to keep a saucer-sized opening scraped clear on the inside of your windshield? While I deplore needless idling, 5 minutes of it after starting the car in -20°C weather is well worth it for the safety aspect alone. After a 5 minute warm-up, that ice will come off in sheets in seconds. Life is too short to risk dying while attempting to save the environment.


Drive away in a few seconds, really? I defrost my car with a scraper to get the outsides clean. But when you jump in and start the car the windows fog and they certainly take longer than a few seconds to clear. And you can't drive if you can't see. So for me the vehicle has to idle for a few minutes not a few seconds.

Jim Kenzie

Hi CT:

Fair point - ALL windows should be clear of snow and ice before starting off. The entire car, actually, to avoid snow blowing back over the windows.

But for the sake of your engine, your wallet and the environment, you'd be better off scraping the bulk of the snow and ice off first, THEN starting the car.

It shouldn't take ten minutes to clear the inside windows, and remember, the car warms up faster - hence, the defroster works more effectively - when it is being driven, rather than when it's merely idling.

For those of you who have a 'recirculation' function in your car - most cars do now; just a few years ago it was mainly Japanese cars - it must be set to 'Fresh' when the defroster is working. Otherwise, the humid air inside the car from your breath means defrosting takes much longer. I sometimes still see Accords and Corollas driving along on cold mornings with the driver frantically trying to wipe the windshield clear.

Jim Kenzie

Jim Kenzie

Hi Spidubic:

A few minutes is better than half an hour! But it still shouldn't take all that long - it doesn't for me, and I live in a higher-altitude, generally colder region of southern Ontario.

Sometimes, opening a side window a little helps.

Maybe your recirc is not set to 'fresh' (see previous comment)?


Jim Kenzie

Hi John B:

As my previous 'comments to the comments' suggest, there is a balancing act here. I'm mainly concerned about people leaving their cars idling for half an hour or more.

And as I indicate above, I can almost always clean my car, start it, and drive off in very short order.

And even on some cold mornings, there is no snow or ice to worry about. A windshield cover can do wonders, incidentally.

I'm no 'environmental zealot', and for sure, you don't sacrifice visibility - for anything. Take away my brakes, take away my steering; but if I can SEE, I might be able to so SOMETHING about almost any situation.

But it IS the air we all breathe; it IS the gasoline you pay for; it IS the engine you may have to repair prematurely.

Jim Kenzie


I never use Recirc, always set to fresh. I should probably open the windows a crack but since they are power I am always a little leary of using them in the winter. Our old 78 Impala had power windows and we always had issues with them in the winter. I agree that things warm faster once the car is moving and I always try to minimize how long the car sits idling.

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