It happens every winter. You return to your car when the temperature is below freezing, lift the hood and find frozen windshield washer fluid.
Or you start your car and spray to clean ice from your windshields, only to find out that windshield wiper fluid not coming out of the nozzle.
When this happens, it’s frustrating and a waste of money because you need new washer fluid. Now there’s a way how to keep windshield washer fluid from freezing and useless on icy windshields.
How do you winterize windshield washer fluid?
If you’re a big fan of driving your car on the roads during winter, then you should take some time to prepare it and learn how to keep washer fluid from freezing. One of the things that you will have to do is to winterize your windshield washer fluid. Here’s a simple way to do this:
- Prepare a warm garage: Before attempting to winterize the windshield wiper fluid, prepare a warm garage. This is necessary because cold weather can cause the fluid to freeze.
- Install a heating element near the fluid reservoir: You will need a heating element for this step, which can be purchased from an automotive supply store. The heating element should be installed around the fluid reservoir to keep it from freezing.
- Get freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid: Purchase the right type of windshield wiper fluid that is resistant to freezing. Manufacturers use Antifreeze to keep wiper fluid from freezing at cold temperatures.
One of the best freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluids is the Prestone De-Icer Winter. Prestone De-Icer Winter is specially designed to improve winter driving visibility. It is formulated to melt ice & frost fast, down to -27°F, and works hard to keep windshield washer fluid from freezing.
Will alcohol Keep windshield washer fluid from freezing?
If you don’t have freeze-resistant wiper fluid yet, don’t worry, adding a bit of alcohol to windshield washer fluid will prevent it from icing up. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point – -114.7 degrees Celsius (-174.6 degrees Fahrenheit), as opposed to water’s freezing point of 0 degrees C (32 degrees F.) Rubbing alcohol is preferable because it is less expensive in can be found in most gas stores and supermarkets. Vodka or even acetone can also be substituted for rubbing alcohol if you don’t have any on hand.
You may also want to make your own windshield wiper fluid.
How to prepare a homemade windshield wiper fluid
- Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle.
- Add enough alcohol to make it come out clear, but not too much so the washer fluid becomes excessively thin or is unable to freeze when temperatures drop below freezing point.
- The mixture should be around 50% liquid and 50% alcohol.
Another basic recipe for windshield washer fluid is water, soap, and a small amount of anti-freezing agents like ammonia or glycerin.
What happens when windshield washer fluid freezes?
As discussed earlier, wiper fluid can freeze, especially in winter. Here’s what you can do when it happens. When the wiper fluid freezes, you’ll need to thaw it out as soon as possible to avoid a bad situation. If you don’t have any warm weather on the horizon, other options will get your windshield washers spraying again.
If your wiper fluid has frozen, here are some tips to help you thaw the system:
- Thawing the fluid out of the reservoir may be an option if you have a newer car with a heated steering wheel.
- Some newer cars have different wiper systems than older models did, and this may also be an option for some older cars.
- If your washer fluid has begun leaking out of your reservoir, then that’s a major problem.
- You’ll need to call a professional windshield washer service and have them come out and make sure everything is working properly.
Why manufacturers don’t just add more alcohol?
If alcohol prevents windshield wiper fluid from freezing, why manufacturers don’t just add more alcohol? Technically adding more alcohol means the product would be so flammable. According to General Motors, the freezing point roughly corresponds to the percentage of alcohol.
Here’s a statement from GM about the alcohol content of windshield wiper fluids: “A –35 C washer fluid will have not less than 38 percent methanol,” wrote Saratlic. “A 50 percent methanol mixture freezes at –50 C.”
Usually, manufacturers added 35-40 percent mix to achieve a lower freezing point. Anything that exceeds this ratio can cause problems. First, it would require special packaging like tin metal because it is highly flammable. It can also damage your car’s paint job.
The best wiper fluid makes the difference between a clear window or a smeary one during winter. Since driving during winter is sometimes unavoidable it is important to learn how to keep windshield washer fluid from freezing. The best way is to purchase the right type of windshield wiper fluid that is resistant to freezing.
But in case you needed a simple and quick solution, you can also try to make your own windshield wiper fluid with alcohol and water mixture. This simple solution can even defrost your frozen windshield without heat.