Nature’s little automatic defroster

Vehicle window with frost

One of the most annoying things about the fall and spring seasons is the need to scrape the frost off your vehicle’s windows before you can drive anywhere.

In the summer, you only have to worry about a little bit of fog; and in the winter, there’s often too little moisture in the air for any of it to cling to the glass; but at this time of year, when it still gets above zero for part of the day and then drops to sub-zero at night, you can count on finding a solid layer of frost over all your windows, especially the front windshield.

You can bet that whatever type of scraper you are using, you probably won’t be able to find an open edge to get under to begin the process of clearing a view port. I find you often have to dig with the very edge of the tool before you can begin to peel away at the thin sheet that seems to be glued to your window.

The most obvious solutions are to (gasp!) start your vehicle and run the engine for 10 minutes to have the defroster begin to nibble at the bottom edge. If you have command start on your car or truck and have remembered to leave everything on that setting the night before, then you can do it from inside the house. Our truck works that way.

Our car is a stick-shift standard, so we have to go out to start it, take it out of gear and put the emergency brake on. Leaving the brake on at night may cause it to freeze in that position, so that’s not recommended. Still takes about 10 minutes to soften up the ice coating.

This fall has been a little different, and it’s been kind of neat. Because of other things we were doing, it made sense to switch parking places over the summer, so the car’s been on the west side of the house.

By now, Dawson’s sunrise is sort of in the southeast, and it swings around so that you see the light hit the west bank of the Yukon River, first, and then inches its way across town, street by street, until it hits Seventh Avenue. As the days shorten, it takes a little bit longer each day, and it won’t work at all by mid-November, but for now it’s been a bit of a magic trick—nature’s little automatic defroster.

An hour or two past noon, the sun hits my street, and a little while later it begins to creep up our driveway and our car. The Yaris has a front window that curves back a bit, and so the sunshine hits the top of the window well before the bottom.

For the last several weeks, this has meant that the sunshine actually starts to thaw the window from the top down. So, if I waited until mid afternoon to do a mail and grocery run, or whatever other errands were too spread out to allow for walking, the front window was half defrosted, and the frost on the other windows was soft.

All I’ve had to do is start the car, raise and lower all the side windows, and run the front and rear wipers to be able to drive without scraping.

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