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Don’t overlook importance of windsheild preparations

by Linda Hiller

Although the first day of spring is just around the corner, there can be plenty of snowy driving days ahead for Carson Valley drivers, especially those who travel over mountain passes to either ski or visit relatives.

While you might have all the necessary precautions in your vehicle, there is one crucial area that often gets overlooked – the windshield.

Most people new to snow driving, which is a large part of the Valley’s drivers-licensed population, rush out and buy a four-wheel-drive vehicle as soon as they get here, making sure that their tires are all-weather safe and that they have chains, a bag of sand or cat litter for emergencies, a windshield scraper, first aid kit, food rations and a blanket.

But none of that is any good if you can’t see out your windshield. In some conditions, it doesn’t matter how well your 4WD vehicle handles in the snow, because if you can’t see out your windshield and if your wipers ice up, you’re stuck, period. That’s the bad news.

The good news. There are some things you can do to try and avoid an icy windshield. Rob Simpson, owner of NAPA Auto & Truck Parts in Gardnerville, says a few precautions can make all the difference in whether or not you’ll be able to see out your windshield during rain, snow and ice.

“First, start with a clean windshield by scraping it off,” he said. “That sounds obvious, but it’s important.”

Scrapers cost anywhere between 99 cents and $6.99 at NAPA, Simpson said.

Second, install winter-type wiper blades on your car to help prevent icing of the blades themselves, rendering the wiper system ineffective. Winter wipers average around $7 apiece.

Third, using a windshield wiper fluid with a lower freezing point can actually melt ice as it forms if conditions are right, Simpson said.

This replaces your regular fluid and goes right in the dispenser for use all winter long. A gallon of this liquid runs $3.49.

Additionally, there are preventative coatings that can be applied to both the outside and the inside of the windshield.

“Rain-X makes a liquid that you put on the outside of the windshield so the water just beads off,” Simpson said. “And, they also make ‘Rain-X Anti Fog,’ which you can put on the inside of the windshield to help keep it from fogging up.”

Those products cost $4.49 each. A $1.29 de-icer spray is also handy to use either in lieu of scraping or in an emergency, Simpson said.

Lastly, one of the most important preventative measures to an icy windshield is a good heater and defroster system.

“You should have it in optimum working condition and turned on while driving through a storm,” Simpson said. “Ideally, it should heat up the windshield and melt the snow as it hits.”

For as little as $28.46, you can take a few precautionary measures to ensure that you won’t have to stop on Highway 395 in the middle of the Valley some snowy evening when your wipers ice up and you can’t see a foot in front of you.

There are many automobile parts stores in the Carson Valley and each one of them should be able to help you outfit your vehicle so you can at least see where you’re going during the rest of winter. Or, go to your mechanic and have him do it for you.