Are you breaking the law when defrosting your van?

Defrosting your van

On cold winter mornings, defrosting your van is an unwelcome necessity. Many vehicle owners, eschewing the prospect of shivering in their motors while waiting for the windscreen to de-ice, head back indoors while their car or van warms up. But did you know that this method of defrosting your van could land you with a fine?

Rule 123

Rule 123 of the Highway Code states that parked vehicles should not be left unattended while their engines are running if on a public road. That means if you park on the road overnight and choose to defrost your van by starting the engine and retreating inside, you could be faced with a fine.

Failing to turn off your engine when instructed could see you receive a £20 fine, which doubles if it remains unpaid after a specific date. The reason the fine was introduced is that leaving a vehicle idling while it is unattended promotes noise pollution, raises emissions and encourages theft. Indeed, according to the RAC an idling engine can produce up to twice the amount of emissions as an engine in motion.

Note, however, that defrosting your van while it’s on your driveway isn’t considered an offence, although it still may not be a good idea.

Not defrosting your van

Failing to defrost your van will also land you with a fine under the CU20 penalty notice. If the vehicle is deemed to have parts in “a dangerous condition” (in this case, not properly cleared of snow and ice) you could find yourself owing £60.

Defrosting your van legally and safely

By all means, turn the engine on to get the air-conditioning circulating. This will help with defrosting your windscreen and warming the interior for a more comfortable drive. Just don’t walk away – not only because you may get a fine, but also because it’s not worth risking theft either of your vehicle or of items inside it.

While the engine is warming up, brush off any snow from the bonnet, roof (if you can reach) and grille. Then use a scraper or de-icer to remove ice from the windows and lights. Don’t use boiling water as this could cause your windscreen to crack.

It’s also worth lifting the wipers away from the windscreen to ensure they haven’t frozen to it. If they have, don’t try to switch them on as this could burn out the motor. Simple leave the windscreen to heat, if possible, until the wipes unstick by themselves.

The final thing to do is wait until your windscreen and windows have de-misted before driving off. Motoring in icy conditions is dangerous enough, without running the risk of an accident due to obscured vision.

Used vans for sale

If the time has come to invest in an upgrade, you’ll find a range of quality pre-owned vans at Vanwise in Maidstone, Dunstable and Harlow. To book a test drive or discover more about our commercial vehicles, contact your local dealership today.