Status: 05.12.2023, 14:13 PM
In winter, ice scraping is one of the most annoying things for drivers – but melting free is not an alternative. In Germany, it is forbidden to warm up the engine.
Anyone who has to drive to work in winter knows the suffering: It's early in the morning, it's still dark outside and the first official act of the day is to scrape the windows free. One or the other may well be tempted to switch on the engine and the windshield heating so that it goes faster. However, you shouldn't get caught, because in Germany it is forbidden to warm up the car engine. In case of violations, it can even be quite expensive.
Prohibited by the Road Traffic Regulations: There are penalties for running the engine – even for heating the windshield
According to the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), it is prohibited in Germany to cause unnecessary noise or environmental pollution with your car. Paragraph 30 not only covers the warm-up of the engine, it even explicitly states: "When using vehicles, unnecessary noise and avoidable exhaust nuisance are prohibited. In particular, it is prohibited to run vehicle engines unnecessarily and to close vehicle doors excessively loudly. Unnecessary driving to and fro is prohibited within built-up areas if others are disturbed by it."
Anyone who violates this must expect a hefty fine. Since 2020, you have to pay a fine of at least 80 euros for leaving the engine running unnecessarily. If you let the car warm up on your own property, it can be even more expensive. In this case, it is not the StVO that applies, but the state immission control law of the respective federal state. If the fine is calculated under this law, the penalty is much higher. In Berlin, according to the catalogue of fines, up to 50,000 euros in fines can theoretically be imposed for unnecessary environmental pollution.
Leaving the engine running to clear icy car windows is forbidden. © IMAGO/Wolfgang Maria Weber
Running the engine may only be allowed for truck drivers who need to run their truck for technical reasons. However, this only applies to exceptions and short periods of time and can also lead to a fine if it is exploited unnecessarily.
By the way: The windshield heating may already work, but being able to warm up the engine is a myth anyway. At the low engine speed, it hardly develops any temperature and it would take about 20 minutes to bring the engine up to driving heat when stationary. During this time, you can just as well scratch windows.
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Scraping windows free: This is how it works even without a warm engine
Anyone who thinks that they will simply refrain from warming up the engine and clearing the ice from the windows will soon be disappointed. Driving with poor visibility is also punishable by law and can be punished by the police and result in a fine. Clearing the windows is therefore mandatory.
The common tool for this is still the ice scraper, which you can hardly do without in this endeavor. However, there are a few tools that make the whole thing faster and more enjoyable. Without much physical exertion, De-icer ensures that ice and frost dissolve almost by themselves. After that, you can easily remove the last remnants with the scratch. However, you should always use real de-icers and not hot water. In the worst case, the extreme temperature difference can cause the disc to crack.
When it comes to ice scrapers, you should make sure to use a high-quality one made of solid plastic, which has a sawtooth edge for layers of ice and a smooth one for snow and light frost. Nowadays, some models even have a soft plush glove attached to it so that the hands don't get cold.
Don't let windows freeze in the first place: Here's how it works
To prevent you from having to scrape ice at all, you can also put a cover film on the car in the evening. Films made of plastic or with an aluminium coating are best suited. Tarpaulins for the car can be bought in any hardware store, at the car dealer or at a reasonable price online.
A parking heater is also a possibility that heats the car and thus also the windows by itself without using the engine. However, such equipment is quite expensive.
If you want to keep your car warm regardless of the ice on the windows, you can also buy heated seat cushions or a fan heater for the car, which can be operated by a cigarette lighter.