Washer fluid is often overlooked. This is often only noticed when there is no more liquid in the tank. This guide tells you when and how to properly check the windshield washer fluid level and what fluid to use when needed.
If you hear a whirring or buzzing sound when you turn on the washer fluid, but the fluid isn’t spraying onto the windshield, it’s time to top up the washer fluid . The hum or hum is coming from the windshield washer water pump. Like the engine oil level, the windscreen washer fluid level should be checked regularly. Every stop at the gas station is a good opportunity to do so.
You probably can’t gauge the number of times you’ve used the washer fluid and estimate the amount of fluid left in the reservoir. A well-filled tank is especially important in winter, when the roads are often wet and covered with sleet. Before a long drive, to go on vacation for example, it is important to check the fluid level in the windscreen washer reservoir and top it up if necessary.
How do I check the windshield washer fluid level?
To check the windshield washer fluid level, just take a look in the engine compartment. On many vehicles, the windshield washer reservoir is located in an easily accessible location on the side of the engine, near the fenders. The tank is usually white with a blue cap. On the cap you see a wiper symbol with a dotted line that symbolizes a jet of water.
If you cannot find the location of the windshield washer fluid reservoir, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual. You will usually find a photo showing a front view of the engine compartment and on which the washer fluid reservoir is indicated. No need to open the reservoir to check the fluid level. You can see it easily thanks to the white and transparent color of the tank. If the water line is not visible, you definitely need to top up the washer fluid.
Windshield washer fluid
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What type of liquid should I use?
You can fill the window washer reservoir with normal tap water. You can also use distilled water, although this is not necessary. It is often recommended to use distilled water because tap water contains limescale. However, limescale in tap water usually only settles at high temperatures, for example in a water heater or in a coffee machine. At normal ambient temperatures in the car, lime practically does not deposit.
How do I top up washer fluid?
Most gas stations have watering cans filled with water that you can use to refill the windshield washer. To top up, remove the blue cap from the washer fluid reservoir. It is a snap cap, it does not unscrew. Simply pull the tab up or squeeze the cap. You can fill the tank to the brim. There is no maximum level to respect. If, when filling, the water overflows or spills a little, it does not matter.
Only add pure water in an emergency. Prefer an appropriate cleaning solution to fill the windshield washer reservoir. In both summer and winter, you should use a special glass cleaner so that the windshield is really clean and streak-free. In specialty stores you will find concentrates for the summer, packaged in small bottles that fit easily in the glove compartment. The bottles are equipped with a doser, which allows you to easily dose the amount of concentrate.
To get the correct dosage, you need to know approximately how much water can fit in the windshield washer reservoir. You can find information on this in your car’s user manual. In the summer, it is recommended to use special cleaning concentrates capable of dissolving proteins. Insect and pollen remains consist mainly of protein. Cleaning the windshield with simple water only spreads them and does not eliminate them. Likewise, you should use winter-specific cleaning products for the cold season.
What wiper fluid should I use in winter?
Winter dirt on the windshield with remnants of road salt and de-icing agents imposes other challenges on the windshield washing water than insects and dust in summer. It is therefore advisable to replace the summer windscreen washer fluid with a fluid suitable for winter well before winter. A winter fluid always contains antifreeze in order to prevent the washing system and the tank from freezing even at negative temperatures.
Freezing washer fluid and reservoir can cause costly damage. When water freezes, it expands. When the windshield washer reservoir is full to the brim, the expanding water can damage it. If present, frozen water can also damage the washer water pump and lines. If the water is about to freeze, another problem may arise. When you turn on the windshield washer, a small amount of water splashes onto the windshield, but it usually freezes immediately and visibility becomes almost nil. Spray nozzles also freeze.
You will find on the market concentrates to be mixed with water in precise proportions to obtain good protection against freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These concentrates contain, in addition to antifreeze, detergents suitable for winter conditions. To change the washer fluid, simply empty the reservoir. For example, by operating the windscreen washer several times until water no longer sprays on the windshield. It is not necessary to rinse the tank. On the other hand, you should not mix windshield washer fluid for winter with that for summer.
Never mix cooling water antifreeze with windshield washer fluid. Antifreeze clogs the windshield and can damage the washer system. The price of a homemade winter windscreen washer fluid is a little cheaper than that of a store-bought concentrate that is diluted with water. However, the price difference is not very significant. You should therefore ask yourself whether it is worth preparing the windshield washer fluid yourself for the winter.