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The internet abounds with differing opinions on how to clear your windshield as quickly as possible. The easiest answer is to just stop breathing, but of course, passing out from lack of oxygen has its own problems. For the rest of us who can’t hold our breath that long, here’s my short list of tricks for dealing with frosty windows.

Most contemporary cars automatically turn on the vehicle’s air conditioning as soon as you move the mode-select to defrost. If you remember back to the hottest days of summer when your air conditioning was working at its hardest, there was always a growing puddle of water under the car as it sat idling. This is because the air conditioner pulls moisture from the air that passes over its evaporator coils. I know it may seem counter-productive, but manually overriding the AC and turning it off will only slow down the defrost/demist process. Leave it on until you change the mode-select to another setting.

The recirculate/fresh-air mode switch should be in the fresh-air position. This brings the cooler, drier outside air into the cabin instead of just recirculating the moisture-laden interior cabin air.

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Similarly, crack the windows open, which further aids in exchanging humid interior air with drier outside air.

Hot air can hold more moisture, so getting the cabin temperature up as quickly as possible will ultimately be the most valuable solution.

There are those who suggest that in an emergency situation, one should fully open all the windows and dial in the coldest temperature settings on your heater so as to match the inside temperature to the outside. This will effectively negate any inner-to-outer temperature variance, minimizing moisture. But really, if you can’t see where you are going at all, shouldn’t you just pull over until it clears?

Your automotive questions, answered

My question relates to battery life.

We have a 2010 Honda Civic which we purchased new. The Civic is in excellent condition, both cosmetically and mechanically. The original ten-year-old battery still functions well. The Civic is a second vehicle and can sit for days – and sometimes a month or so – without being used. I do not use a battery-maintainer. Since the battery is old, should I consider replacing it, connecting it to a battery-maintainer or just let the good times roll? We live in southern Ontario.

Thank you

Paul C

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Ten years is a very respectable number considering that average battery’s life expectancy is four to six years. The statement I always use for my customers regarding battery life is “after your batteries fifth birthday, it owes you nothing."

So, should you let the good times roll? Well, that depends on your DIYer skill level and if a dead battery on one cold morning is a big deal for you. If you are not adept at replacing a battery on your own, then I would do it now while it still starts easily and you can drive it in to your service provider. If you are not dependent on the vehicle and are handy at sourcing and replacing a battery yourself, then replace it whenever you feel the inspiration. But know that you will need to find that inspiration soon, as you are surely on borrowed time.


It is somewhat common now to see certified used or similar wording attached to the sale of used cars. As with the sale of any used item, it is wise and helpful to know what the history of the item is, in this example a vehicle. My question is, when considering buying a used vehicle, is the dealer required to produce all the records they have relating to the vehicle, including anything they either found or repaired in their pre-sale inspection? This would certainly be helpful information in considering whether to purchase the vehicle. Thanks for your help in this regard. I enjoy your articles in the Globe.

Bill and Laura C

Thank you, Bill and Laura.

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Licencing, registration and required disclosure is provincially regulated, so check with your local transportation authority for exact requirements.

Here in Ontario, used-car dealers are regulated by the Ontario Motor vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), and they have a very lengthy list of mandatory disclosures that all dealers must provide to potential buyers. Nowhere in that list does it say that historical mechanical repairs need to be disclosed, unless related to structural and accident repairs. It does, however, state that required repairs to engine, transmission, subframe, electrical system, fuel and air conditioning systems must be disclosed at the point of purchase. Of course, the problem is going to be getting the dealer to admit that they knew said vehicle was actually in need of any repairs when they sold it. Most people will agree that shopping for a used car is a very stressful event. There is no easy path as a buyer; you have to do all the leg work, as you are the one who loses when things go wrong.

Carfax or Carproof reports are essential for every purchase along with a pre-purchase inspection from a repair facility that you trust.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.

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