For a while now, you’ve been able to option or retro fit heated washer jets on some cars. While they’re a good idea, the main problem is that if the fluid in the pipes behind these gets frozen, they cease to work. Heat Shot have brought out a patented system which can be easily fitted, and eliminates that problem by heating the water near to the source, feeding hot fluid to the jets and onto the screen.
The system isn’t just about clearing frozen screens though, and it’s also used for effectively cleaning those irritating bug splats away, as well as winter road grime and keeping the glass much cleaner, plus reducing the streaking than occurs when cold fluid is applied. While Heat Shot can claim as much as they want on paper, just how good is it? We had the Heat Shot system fitted for review, and to find out what the benefits of having one are we’ve tested it on a couple of different cars.
There’s also a 24-volt system, which is slightly more complex to fit, but as mentioned Heat Shot can send out an engineer to fit it anyway if needed. One more thing, the washer bottle itself is still susceptible to freezing if you get a cold winter, so you’ll obviously need to use screen wash as well to stop that from happening.
The Heat Shot heated washer system isn’t something simple though, in case you were thinking it was. It’s actually a very technical piece of engineering inside, and can do stuff like monitor the vehicle’s battery voltage constantly (even when it the engine is off) and precisely to make sure it only kicks in when the battery is running at the right voltage once the engine is started, ensuring it won’t drain the battery if it happens to be low.
So the Heat Shot doesn’t use more energy than needed, a sensor monitors the water temperature inside the unit. If it’s cold (like wintertime-cold), then all 3 of its heaters will kick in to warm the water as quickly as possible, and then once it’s up to temperature (57 – 60˚C), occasionally just one heater will come on to maintain that. If it’s warm out, then the system will only use one heater from the get-go.
It takes around 30 – 45 seconds to heat the water inside the unit when the engine is first turned on, and after that you get a 3 – 4 second spray of heated water before it goes cold again. You’ll then need to leave around 20 seconds between sprays for best results.
There are a variety of Heat Shot systems available (one for cars with ‘smart charge’ technology, and a 24 volt Heat Shot system for trucks), and on our first test-bed vehicle we had the ‘Premium Twin Pack System’ fitted. This provides around twice the length of heated water spray time (so around 8 seconds).
After a while of having the system fitted, that car was sold (Heat Shot kit taken out first), and then a single pack was fitted to another regularly-used car, so we’ve actually tested both the single and double pack units.
That’s all the stats and facts out of the way, so how did it do? We’ve tested it over a whole year in a variety of conditions, so let’s run through how it did in these.
Spring/Summertime. You’ll perhaps think that heated fluid isn’t needed in summertime but actually it is. If you’ve ever driven through a swarm of those small insects that leave a million splats all over the glass, you’ll know how hugely irritating it is when you try to clear them, and they cover the whole ‘screen in sticky smears that won’t budge no matter how many times you use the sprayers.
With the Heat Shot system fitted, we found it cleans off the majority of bug smears surprisingly well, and quickly too. It’s the same with bird dirt. If one lands on the glass as you’re driving, it infuriatingly starts to set after just a few seconds, and leads to a smeary windscreen for the rest of the journey. Again though, the Heat Shot cuts right through it without a problem. We found it helps to have a small amount of screen wash added to the water for even better results.
If you park under or near trees, you’ll know just how annoying it is when you come out to your car and it’s covered in sap. Okay, the Heat Shot won’t do anything about the rest of the car, but at least you can get your windscreen clear of the majority of it. Cold water won’t touch sap, and in fact it’ll just make it harder, so the Heat Shot has a clear advantage yet again.
The guys at Heat Shot mention that they’ve sold the system into Australia, and fitted to mining vehicles and road trains, where thick ‘red dust’ is a real issue and hard to shift. The Heat Shot system works perfectly for this, and it’s yet another area where it’s handy.
Autumn/winter. As the days grown shorter and the sun sits low for most of the day, vision through the windscreen becomes an eyesore, and that’s even before it rains, when grimy water is thrown up from the cars in front, making vision even worse. To add to that scenario, after salt has been spread that spray then dries quickly on the glass and guaranteed heavy smearing occur as the cold water tries to cut through the thick film of grime.
The hot water from the Heat Shot does a far better – and much quicker – job of clearing this, and it also cuts down on smearing too. That makes it easier to see, and therefore safer to drive. In case you’re wondering, with 15 – 20 seconds between heated water coming out, yes the Heat Shot system will put through unheated water too if you do need to clear the windscreen more often.
But then we come to the point where, if you live in a country that gets cold winters, the Heat Shot system really comes into its own for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, we’ve all come out in the morning to find our windscreens unexpectedly frozen over, and we’re in a rush to get to work. The last thing you want to do is get cold, wet and have one painful arm after having to scrape away the ice and snow. The side windows aren’t bad, and the rear has a defroster, but inevitably you end up leaning over to reach the centre of the windscreen, whereupon your entire front becomes soaked. Oh, and then you end up late for work. Not a good start to the day.
When it came to photographing and filming the Heat Shot for this review, a bitterly cold morning saw the windscreen iced over, but on top of the ice was a layer of frozen snow, making sure the Heat Shot would be put through its paces for the camera.
As soon as the heated water hit the glass, steam billowing around in the cold air, there were instant results, and you can physically hear the ice and snow crackling as the 60˚C water makes its way underneath and starts to break it up.
I hear some smirking and saying they’ve got a front heated windscreen, so there’s no need for any of that. Brilliant, but that won’t stop your washer jets and their supply pipes from freezing, and you still need to clean your ‘screen. Oh, you use 100% concentrate screenwash? Good-o, personally we’d have a problem paying for using 2o+ litres the stuff each winter.
Some of you have heated washer jets? Again, that’s a good thing to have, but it still doesn’t stop the water freezing in the pipes behind them, and they still don’t pump out hot water to clear the ice and snow.
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Does it crack or damage the windscreen?
No. Heat Shot has been extensively tested and proven to be a quality and safe product.
How much power does the unit draw?
In extreme conditions, Heat Shot uses 50 Amps for 30 seconds. Minimal power is then required to keep it up to temperature. Heat Shot consumes less than 2 Amps per hour.
If I’ve a heated windscreen, why do I need Heat Shot?
A heated screen is only beneficial in sub zero conditions and not all year round. Heat Shot will penetrate frozen pipes and washer jets, ensuring constant availability of fluid in all weather conditions.
How long does it take to heat?
From initial start up in severe cold conditions, it will take a maximum of 30 seconds to heat the fluid.
Do I still need to use screenwash?
Yes. It’s crucial for optimum performance and prevents the water reservoir freezing. In summer months a bug wash will assist in the cleaning performance.
Can I install the system myself?
Yes the installation is a fairly simple process, however we can offer installation through our European Distribution network
Does it affect my insurance policy?
No, as it does not modify your engine performance.
Where is the unit installed?
Within the engine bay between washer bottle and washer jets.
Can it be fitted to any vehicle?
We are yet to find a vehicle Heat Shot can’t be retro-fitted to. We provide a solution to all vehicle types.
What should I do if I need to charge my vehicles battery?
To protect the HeatShot unit from damage caused by some battery chargers, the HeatShot unit must be disconnected prior to charging the vehicles battery
The answer is clear ...