You might not think much about windshield wiper fluid, but keeping your wiper fluid tank full is essential. A clear windshield is necessary, and wiper fluids help get it squeaky clean.
However, over time, your wiper fluid can be contaminated with dirt. You may need to drain the old fluid before you refill. While topping up windshield wiper fluid is easy, draining requires an extra step.
Unsure how to go about this?
Don’t worry. We’ve got the details.
This article will discuss how to change windshield wiper fluid — whether you need to drain your fluid or just simply refill. We’ll also cover four windshield wiper fluid FAQs to help you expand your wiper fluid know-how.
This Article Contains
- How to Change Windshield Wiper Fluid?
- 4 Windshield Wiper Fluid FAQs
Let’s get started.
How to Change Windshield Wiper Fluid?
Conducting a wiper fluid service is easy.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Purchase the right type of fluid.
- Prepare the fluid (only if necessary).
- Park your car on level ground.
- Pop the hood.
- Locate your windshield washer reservoir and open the cap.
- Drain the wiper fluid reservoir (if you need to fully replace the fluid.)
- Fill the reservoir with wiper liquid until you reach the max line.
- Once filled, close the container cap and do a spritz test on your windshield glass.
If you need more details on each step, continue reading.
Step 1: Choose the Right Wiper Fluid
What do we mean by the right wiper fluid?
There are several types of wiper fluid, but you need to consider your environment when you purchase wiper fluid.
Don’t just use water in your windshield washer fluid as it might not get the job done. You must choose the wiper fluid best suited to your driving situation.
What do we mean by that?
If you’re driving in freezing temperatures then a de-icer wiper fluid would be best and if it’s the rainy season switch to water-beading wiper fluid.
(We’ll get into the different types of wiper fluid later, stay strapped in till then.)
Step 2: Prepare Your Wiper Fluid
Skip this if you’ve bought fluid that has already been diluted.
Always read the steps on how to prepare the fluid before adding it to your wiper fluid tank.
Here’s how to get a concentrated wiper solution ready:
- Mix the concentrated windshield washer with distilled water in a 50:50 ratio.
In other words — mix half distilled water and half washer fluid, and your solution will be ready.
Step 3: Park Your Vehicle on Level Ground
Your windshield washer fluid reservoir needs to be level to get an accurate reading of the amount of wiper fluid still in your vehicle and how much you have added.
So park the vehicle on an even, flat surface and engage the parking brake.
Step 4: Pop the Hood of Your Car
Locate the release lever near the door frame on the driver’s side. It’s typically labeled with a small symbol showing the front of your car with the hood open.
Pull the release toward you and deactivate the hood latch. Once out of the car, disengage the safety latch by pressing the lever beneath the hood or through the grill at the front of your vehicle.
Can’t find the release or safety latch?
Your owner’s manual will have the details.
Step 5: Locate Your Wiper Fluid Reservoir And Open the Cap
Almost every vehicle has a windshield washer reservoir with a large, brightly colored plastic cap. The cap is usually a screw-on or press-on with an image of water spraying on a windshield. Once found, open the cap.
Step 6: Drain the Wiper Fluid Reservoir (Optional)
If your old wiper fluid is dirty or grimy, you’ll want to drain it first. Check the bottom of your fluid reservoir for a drain hose— it’s a small rubber or plastic tube.
Place a container below your reservoir and allow the fluid to drain by disconnecting the hose. Once you’ve drained the fluid, securely reattach the hose.
Tip: If you notice any damage to the reservoir hose, this would be a good time to replace it.
Step 7: Pour in Wiper Fluid
Use a funnel to pour your wiper fluid reservoir till you reach the fill line.
Don’t see a fill line?
Just leave a few inches of space at the top of the washer fluid reservoir. Then let the windshield fluid rest to confirm if your fluid level is accurate. If it goes down after a few seconds, simply add more fluid.
Step 8: Replace Cap and Check Wiper Fluid Function
Close the cap of your windshield wiper reservoir and lower your hood. Then start your vehicle and press the windshield wiper fluid lever. Windshield fluid should now be coming from the nozzles on your windshield.
On the off chance that your nozzles aren’t releasing wiper fluid, there might be a different issue to sort out. Your nozzles could be clogged or there could be a problem with the wiper fluid system.
Ensure you call a mechanic and have them properly diagnose and fix the problem.
Have some unanswered questions regarding windshield wiper fluid?
We’ll get into them now.
4 Windshield Wiper Fluid FAQs
Here are four windshield wiper fluid questions and their answers:
1. Can I Use Plain Water to Refill My Wiper Fluid?
We wouldn’t really recommend it. It’s just not as effective as using proper wiper fluid.
Then again, it all comes down to the climate where you live. If you experience below freezing temperatures, you need to use specially formulated washer fluid to protect your windshield wiper reservoir.
Proper windshield washer comprises cleaning solution and anti-freezing agents to ensure it can operate anytime without hiccups.
Regularly using water instead of windshield wiper fluid can result in vehicle issues like:
- Higher chance of windshield frost formation
- Freezing and damage to washer components in winter weather
- Dirt build up
- Premature wiper blade wear
- Washer pump failure
2. How Do I Know My Fluid Reservoir Needs Refilling?
How you check windshield wiper fluid levels will depend on your car. Some cars have a light that will light up when levels are low, while others have a visible windshield washer fluid reservoir under the hood where you can see the levels.
However, activating your windshield washer nozzle is a universal way to check if your wiper fluid is low. If nothing comes out of the windshield washer nozzle, it’s time for a refill.
Important: Don’t continue trying to get washer fluid to come out of the nozzle when the fluid level is low. The fluid acts as a lubricant and coolant for the windshield washer fluid pump, and without fluid, you may damage the washer pump.
3. What Are the Different Types of Wiper Fluid?
The type of fluid you need depends on your environment.
Here’s a list of the most common wiper fluid types:
- Standard Windshield Washer Fluid: Is a blue liquid that’s usually a mixture of water, methanol, and other glass cleaners. It cleans dirt more thoroughly giving you a clear view with fewer streaks.
- Bug Remover Washer Fluid: Has extra cleaning additive solutions that help to dissolve and wash away bug splatter and other debris.
- Water-Beading Windshield Washer Fluid: Water-beading fluid uses silicone and other chemicals to make the rain bead up on your windshield and roll off— improving your visibility.
- De-Icing Windshield Washer Fluid: De-icer can help break up particularly stubborn ice and snow on your windshield and windows during freezing winter months, so there’s less scraping involved when cleaning.
- All-Season Windshield Washer Fluid: This year-round formulation endures relatively low temperatures without freezing. It includes additive solutions to remove bugs and enough cleaning agents to wash away road grime.
4. Do I Need to Check My Windshield Wipers Too?
Yes. Your wiper blades are important too.
Your windshield wiper blades are closely related to your wiper fluid. They work together to ensure your windshield is clear— providing great visibility.
Windshield wiper blades are subject to wear and tear like any other exterior vehicle component, especially during cold weather. So you need to ensure they’re in good condition.
Check on your blades when you refill your fluid reservoir.
Wiper fluid is essential to ensure good visibility in various cold weather conditions and in case the entire cast of ‘A Bug’s Life’, and other debris, ends up on your windshield.
Remember to always check up on your wiper fluid during routine car maintenance. You can use our guide on how to change wiper fluid when it needs a top-up.
If you need any help with your wiper blades, wiper fluid, or other car issues, keep us — RepairSmith — in mind.