Remove the Snow

by Lori Straus

We see this familiar scene every winter: vehicles on the road with last night’s 10-cm snowfall still on the roof, chunks of snow blowing off toward the car behind. But how eager are we to admit that we’ve also gotten into a vehicle without clearing the snow off the roof? That’s one winter driving habit you need to change. In this blog post, we’ll give you a few tips on how to clear snow and ice off the roof of your vehicle and also let you know if driving with snow on your roof is illegal in Ontario.

The Best Ways to Remove Snow from the Roof of Your Vehicle

I have to admit, this isn’t rocket science. You don’t need to buy a bunch of products or memorize a 14-step list. Clearing snow off the roof of your vehicle amounts to this: use a foam brush and pull the snow toward you.

A foam brush causes the least amount of damage of all snow removal tools to your car’s paint job. Pulling the snow toward you is simply easier.

Although clearing the roof of your vehicle is the last thing you want to do after spending 20 minutes getting your car unstuck in the winter following a snowfall and snowplow burial, you need to look after it.

Canadian Roads Covered in Snow

How to Remove Ice from the Roof of Your Vehicle

This can be trickier, but removing ice from the roof of your vehicle is necessary. First off, avoid metal tools to crack the ice on your vehicle’s roof. Screwdrivers and icepicks can cause significant damage. A plastic ice scraper should suffice if the layer of ice is thin. However, if the layer of ice is thicker, follow these steps:

  1. Clear your tailpipe of all snow and ice.
  2. Turn on your engine. Note that heating the interior of your car while it’s idling will only help so much, because to fully warm up your vehicle you need to drive the vehicle.
  3. Begin clearing other parts of your vehicle. Although standard advice is to start clearing snow and ice from the top of your vehicle and work your way down, you need to give that thick layer of ice up top time to melt.
  4. After a few minutes, try using a plastic scraper to begin removing the ice from your roof.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to safely remove thick layers of ice while keeping damage to an absolute minimum. But do not leave your driveway with ice on the roof. It can slide off in sheets and damage the vehicle behind you.

Cars Driving Along a Snow Covered Road

Is Driving with Snow and Ice on Your Roof Illegal?

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association says it is not technically illegal to drive with snow and ice on your roof. (If you are driving to the US, though, know that this is illegal in some of the northern states.)

However, you still need to clear the snow off the roof of your vehicle, because other laws come into force under certain circumstances.

For example, Ontario law requires you to have full visibility in front of, at the side of, and behind your vehicle. If snow is obstructing that visibility, you can be fined. In addition, you must maintain your vehicle in such a way that it does not pose a threat to anyone else on the road. If you leave snow and/or ice on your vehicle, including on your vehicle’s roof, you can cause a collision when everything on your roof loosens up.

For example, check out this driver on the 401 who was caught with trying to clear snow that slid down from his roof and onto his windshield. Presumably, his windshield wipers were still frozen to the vehicle. Although we encourage you to have your winter car kit available, this is not how it’s meant to be used.

Don’t Leave Your Car Covered in Snow

That’s all it comes down to: clear the snow off the roof of your vehicle as well as the rest of your vehicle to ensure a safe drive for you and everyone around you. The last thing you want is to hurt someone because being on time for work was more important than taking time to clear your vehicle.