How to choose correct type of windshield washer fluid

Picking the right kind of washer fluid is especially important during the colder months, when windshields are in constant need of cleaning.

Now that it’s winter, many of us are putting our wiper and fluid systems to good use cleaning gunk, frost and light snow off the windshield. When it comes time to top up the reservoir, there are a few things to bear in mind, including the fact that not all wiper fluids are created equally.

Firstly, it’s important to mention you should never fill the washer fluid tank using plain water. When the weather gets cold enough, regular H20 will turn into a giant frozen block potentially creating a safety hazard on the road. Temperature fluctuations occurring in the engine bay can also lead to the water becoming a breeding ground for mould. Proper fluids contain anti-freeze that helps keep it in a liquid state and free from bacteria.

There are lots of brands and types of windshield washer fluids on the market, something you will discover when you walk into any automotive store or parts department. Make sure to choose one that is designed for the climate your vehicle lives in. Sometimes the label may read all-season or winter, but should also show the lowest temperature the particular fluid can perform to, such as -40 or -45 C. If in doubt, ask an expert at the counter.

Different companies may also put special ingredients into their solutions to provide additional benefits. For example, MotoMaster Winter Windshield Washer Fluid includes detergent for extra dirt-removing strength. Rain-X De-Icer features their proprietary beading technology that repels rain, sleet and snow, preventing it from sticking to the windshield.

Adding the fluid to the reservoir is almost always a straightforward task — on most vehicles, simply pop the hood, locate the tank (consult the user manual if you can’t find it) and remove the lid, and pour until the fill line is reached. Or, simply have it done the next time you bring your car into the dealership for service. 

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights