Without windshield washer fluid, two things could happen: you would have reduced visibility, and your fluid pump would corrode and leak. Your car relies on many fluids to perform at its best, and windshield washer fluid is one of them. Let’s review how to choose and refill windshield washer fluid and review some tips for repairing and maintaining your windshield.
How to Choose Windshield Washer Fluid
Before you refill your washer fluid, make sure you’re using the right one.
Choosing windshield washer fluid depends on the season. For example, summer fluid is the best at clearing streaks left by bugs, and winter fluid is built for freezing temperatures to break up ice and clear away salt.
Never use water as a replacement for windshield washer fluid. Water won’t properly clear off your windshield and can damage your tank and fluid lines if it freezes.
Pair windshield washer fluid with the right windshield wiper blades for best results. This means winter fluid with winter blades and summer fluid with summer blades. Make sure you get the right wiper blade size for your vehicle. You can find this information in your owner’s manual.
For more advice on picking the right windshield washer fluid (and best wiper blades), check out this article.
How to Refill Windshield Washer Fluid
Follow these steps to refill your windshield washer fluid:
- Locate your windshield washer fluid reservoir. On most vehicles*, this will be under the hood at the back of the engine bay, near the windshield. It’s usually a translucent white container with a black, yellow, or blue lid with a windshield symbol on it.
- Take off the reservoir cap.
- Check the level of the fluid to confirm it needs refilling.
- Use a funnel to pour fluid into the reservoir. Use winter fluid between October to March/April and summer fluid for the rest of the year.
- Pour until you hit the fill line on the reservoir. If there’s no line, pour until the tank is ¾ full. The fluid will expand when the car heats up, so don’t overfill the reservoir.
- Secure the cap back into place.
Check your windshield washer fluid at least once every three months to see if it needs refilling.
If the windshield washer fluid won’t spray but the reservoir is full, the fluid lines could be clogged. If the low washer fluid light comes on in your car but the reservoir is full, the sensor could be faulty. Speak to an expert at a NAPA Auto Service Centre for help with these issues.
*For vehicles that spray fluid onto the rear windshield, that fluid most likely comes from the same reservoir as the fluid for the front windshield. However, you may also find a windshield washer fluid reservoir located near the trunk or behind the back seat for the rear window. Some vehicles, on the other hand, require vehicle owners to refill their reservoir via a refill neck near a fender. Check your owner’s manual for full details.
Even with the right windshield washer fluid and wiper blades, your windshield is still at risk of getting damaged on the road. If you notice any cracks on your windshield, assess them right away. Avoiding these repairs can lead to further cracks. This is dangerous not only because your view will be obstructed, but also because if the windshield shatters, the glass could injure you and/or your passengers.
You can repair small chips and scratches on your windshield from home with a windshield repair kit like this one.
For larger cracks, visit a NAPA Auto Service Centre to have the windshield repaired by a professional.
Maintaining Your Windshield
Your windshield is most at risk of damage during the winter. With certain products, you can keep your windshield in good shape, whatever the weather.
Clearing snow off your car is a daily task during Canadian winters. When you do this, be sure to use a snowbrush designed for glass to avoid scratching your windshield. Never use a broom or shovel to clear snow off your windshield.
De-icer will help melt snow and ice from your windshield, making it easier to clear off and preventing scratches.
Although an accumulation of snow on your windshield won’t damage it, using a windshield cover overnight will make it easier to clear your car off in the morning.
Some year-round windshield maintenance tips include:
- Avoid parking in direct sunlight.
- Use cleaning products designed for glass (i.e., glass cleaning spray and glass wipes).
- Replace windshield wipers at least once every six to twelve months.
- Don’t slam car doors.
If you have any questions about windshield washer fluid or windshield maintenance, visit your local NAPA Auto Parts store for some expert advice.