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Windscreen misting up

The problem: When you get in the car on a cold morning, the windscreen and internal glass mists up rapidly. The heater takes a while to warm up, so you can't see where you're going for the first couple of miles.

This problem is more serious than it sounds. If you can't see where you're going properly, stop and sort it out. It's got to be better to lose a couple of minutes than to crash your expensive sports car.

The explaination: Because the Elise is only a tiny two-seater, it's internal cabin volume is small. This helps it steam up much faster than a conventional 5 seater family car. The heat from your body and the moisture from your breath work together to condense a film of water onto the cold windscreen.

If your soft-top leaks and your car fills with water overnight, the problem is worsened by all the excess of moisture that is already in the car.

The solution: To stop the car steaming up is fairly easy, but requires a set of rituals that all need to be performed:

  1. Fix the leaks! Do whatever you need to fix any leakyness in your car's roof. Follow the advice on the Leaky soft-top page as necessary.
  2. Keep it clean: The misting up problem is far worse if the screen is dirty either inside or out. The inside will get grubby over time due to the fact that you're sucking dirty exhaust fumes from other cars and blasting them at the glass. Keeping the glass clean will also help avoid being blinded by other driver's headlights - they won't diffuse so much, blocking out less of your vision. Use something like Autoglym Glass Polish to do both inside and out. Make an effort to do this during daylight, or you'll miss bits.
  3. Dry everything off. Keep a towel in the car in case anything does leak. It helps to mop up any water lying on the sills, the seats etc. If you've been in the rain and are wet, dry yourself off as best you can. If you have a wet coat or umbrella, put it in the boot where it won't contribute to the moisture in the cabin.
  4. Warm the windscreen. This is ESSENTIAL in cold weather. If you think the weather is cold enough that your screen will mist up before the heater kicks in, do this: Get a jug of warm water, and run it over the windscreen, windows and mirrors. The water should be warm - not hot. From the hot-tap as it is heating up is ideal. You should be able to dip your finger into the water and keep it there without it hurting at all. Just pleasently warm. Don't risk using a kettle to heat the water - too hot and the screen could crack.
  5. De-ice the screen first: If the temperature is colder than zero degrees Centigrade, use cold water (from the cold tap) before you use the warm water. Cold water, by definition, is above zero degrees (it would be ice if it where below), hence will still melt ice. The idea is to raise the temperature of the glass slowly enough that it doesn't crack! Hot water immediately could potentially crack the screen.
  6. Really cold stuff: If the weather/screen is really cold, adding water might just thicken the ice on it. Using de-icer first to melt off most of the ice should help. No need to go nuts with it - just get the worst off and resort back to the cold water then warm water parts. Try to keep it off the bodywork too. I haven't seen it do any damage, but you never know - it's not pleasent stuff.
  7. Start driving: Now the glass is warmed, you can start your journey. The warmth of the screen and general dryness inside the cabin should stop it from misting up until your engine is warm enough to supply heat through the heater. Keep a clean demister pad in the car in case it doesn't quite manage it, but try not to use it. Wiping the screen with a pad will smear the traffic film that builds up on it, making it far worse overall. Don't resort to using your hand either - you'll transfer body grease to the screen, possibly scratch the glass with a ring/watch and make your hand cold!
  8. Set the heater: Put the heater on full blast directed at the screen. Fast flowing cold air will generally help, though hot air is better. Don't wait for the heater to warm up before turning the air on full.
  9. Open a window a bit: Wind the driver's side window down just a centimetre or so whilst the heater is blasting cold air. This lets the air comming off the screen escape, rather than recirculating it and all the moisture it contains. When the heater is warm you can usually close the window too. Taking the roof off works in the same way as opening a window, but might not be practical, of course.



Underwood's Axioms 1e: People are stupid (ns)