Frozen Auto Facts: How to Master Madison Winter Parking Rules

Frozen Auto Facts: How to Master Madison Winter Parking Rules

Published on November 4th, 2015
By Jennifer Oppriecht

El Nino or no el nino, winter in Wisconsin stinks – at least when it comes to parking, driving and starting your car in Mad-town. These Madison winter parking and driving hacks will help you and your wheels survive the inevitable deep freeze.

The rumor is that El Nino will have mercy on Madisonians this winter.  The meteorological pundits are predicting average temperatures and below average snowfall.

Yet they also note we’ll still get hit by a few major snowstorms and Arctic temperature drops.

Sigh. This is the point where Wisconsinites scratch their heads and wonder, “Why do we live here?’

Good question, but perhaps a more pressing one for Madisonians with a car:

“How do I survive parking and driving in Madison during the winter?”

So glad you asked.

Parking Your Car

Let’s start out with parking.  The City of Madison has a great website that details many of the parking dos and don’t.  Here are some highlights and links to more info:

Prepping Your Car for the Winter

How do you prep your car for the ridiculous conditions? Here are some top tips from

  • Keep your battery and charging system in top shape. Cold weather can reduce a battery capacity by more than one-third, so be sure you have the battery, alternator and charging system in tip-top shape.
  • Maintain your windshield washer system. Keep the fluids filled and new wipers on the blades, as you’ll undoubtedly be using them often to keep the snow, slush and salt off the window.
  • Carry emergency gear. Every car should be equipped with gloves, boots, blankets, a shovel and a flashlight, just in the case you get stuck.

Driving Safely through Snow and Ice

And once you’re on the road, here are some top tips from AAA:

  • Drive and brake slowly.  Avoid rapid acceleration and deceleration.  Slow and steady wins the race. Accelerate slowly to gain traction on snowy roads, and a slow deceleration will avoid sliding. It takes longer to brake and speed up on snowy roads, so budget your time accordingly.
  • Get a feel for your brakes. As you’re driving in the wintery conditions, apply the brakes once or twice when you’re alone on the road so you can test the braking conditions. You’ll get a good feel for how fast you can truly travel.
  • Avoid the spin. Whether you’re moving from a dead stop, or driving up a hill, don’t spin your wheels and slam on the gas pedal you’ll get nowhere fast.

Additional Winter Auto Hacks

Battling the winter conditions is an ongoing struggle. Here are some unique approaches to giving Old Man Winter the cold shoulder.

  • Use a chalkboard eraser to clear a foggy window. When the windshield fogs up in window, don’t clean it with your hand. Instead of leaving smudges and streaks, pack a chalkboard (or dry-erase board) to wipe clean.
  • Prevent the windshield from fogging. Interiors fog-up when moisture on the interior frosts up or fogs your windshield. Some ways to eliminate the moisture include:

    • Opening the windows at night to allow cool air in
    • Filling a stocking full of kitty litter (clean kitty litter) to absorb water
    • Running the air conditioner in the morning to take the humidity out of the air
  • Keep the wipers clear of an icy windshield. Put a sock over the wiper blades at night so it won’t stick to the glass in the event of icy conditions. You can also apply rubbing alcohol to the blade to keep it from sticking to the windshield.
  • De-icing windows. Park your car facing east, if possible, to allow the morning sun to de-ice your windows. If that doesn’t work, get a spray bottle and mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water. Spray it onto the windshield to prevent the ice from forming.
  • Melting door Locks. When your door lock is frozen, heat your car key with a match or lighter, then slide it in slowly to melt the ice. You can also blow on the lock through a drinking straw, or rub the lock with hand sanitizer.

We pulled many of these ideas from this great post 25 Clever Car Hacks to Help You Survive Winter. Check ‘em all out!

Even if young El Nino is going to slow down Old Man Winter, you can count on a fair amount of winter misery. These winter auto hacks should warm your heart, or at least help you steer clear of a parking ticket and a dead battery.

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