Choose Your Windshield Washer Fluid Wisely

I ran out of windshield wash in my truck last week, so I refilled the reservoir with a jug of fluid I had sitting in the garage.  I never thought to check the jug to see if it was rated for cold weather.  I didn’t even realize that was a problem.  I thought all windshield fluid had anti-freeze or alcohol in it.  Boy was I wrong.

The next day when I was out with the truck, the wiper fluid worked fine for a few squirts then stopped.  Annoyed, I dealt with the crap on the windshield when I got to my destination by rubbing some snow on the warm windshield.  When I got home I took a look at the jug of fluid I’d used and was surprised to see +32ºF on the bottle.

I figured I could unfreeze the lines and or reservoir by getting both the truck and the jeep engines warmed up and then shutting them in the garage (ignition off of course).  I also bought some “Ultimate” fluid to fill the remaining space in the reservoir, figuring it would mix with the fluid already in there.  Between the warm garage and the anti icing agents in the new fluid I figured the ice didn’t stand a chance.

It worked and when I got the fluid flowing I pumped about half of the reservoir onto the floor.  I should have emptied the entire reservoir!  The next day the wiper fluid was still flowing fine when I backed out of the garage, but then it froze up on me again few miles down the road.  The jeep wasn’t home and it was a colder day so I shut the garage, opened the door to the house, and cranked the thermostat.  I figured the furnace would heat the garage enough to unfreeze the fluid and I was right.

I tried the knob for the windshield wash, something was wrong.  I could hear fluid spilling onto the ground, but nothing was coming out of the wipers.  I checked under the hood, a rubber coupling had come undone and wiper fluid was shooting into the engine compartment.   It actually was a lucky break.  Rather than pump fluid onto the floor, I put the free end of the plastic washer fluid hose into a bottle and pumped the washer fluid out until it was purple (the color of the new fluid).  Then I reconnected the line and refilled the reservoir with the correct fluid.

This seemed to have done the trick.  I haven’t had a problem with my windshield wiper fluid since.

COMMENTS (1)

  • comment-avatar
    jeff_williams May 19, 2011

    I also discovered that the alcohol in the low temp ones will evaporate out over the summer. It is always a good idea to pump out some fluid in the fall and refill with some winter mix before the snow flies.