Seems like an odd issue, but customers talk to us about it more than you would think.
If you live in an area that has very cold winters, the effects of cold weather on your car is something you always need to be aware of. You probably already know that the miraculous fluid known as antifreeze not only helps keep your car cool in the warm months, it also helps prevent your engine from freezing in the cold ones. But what about your windshield wiper fluid? Windshield wiper fluid is one of those components of our car that we rarely worry about until it’s gone. If we run out, we simply replace it. If it freezes, though, it creates a more complicated problem, and you should know what to do when this happens.
(Many good, modern formulations won’t freeze, but some still do, especially in the north where the winters can be brutal.)
So how do you stop windshield wiper fluid from freezing? If your windshield wiper fluid has never frozen, keep reading to learn how to make sure it never does. If it has already frozen, we have some thoughts on how to get you out of trouble. First, here are some ideas on how to keep windshield washer fluid from freezing.
What Is the Best Way to Keep Washer Fluid From Freezing?
One of the best ways to keep your windshield wiper fluid from freezing is to store it someplace warm. If you have a garage, that’s where your car should be when you are not using it. If it gets too cold, you will regret it. If you are in an area which frequently experiences extreme cold weather in the winter, your garage door should be insulated as well (it makes a huge difference).
Some people keep a heat source like an engine block heater near the windshield reservoir at night when the car is not running. If you do not have access to a garage or other indoor parking facility in very cold weather, you may want to consider this as an option.
Finally, if you live and drive in an area that gets cold weather, you should make sure your washer fluid is freeze-resistant in the first place. Certain available windshield wiper fluid comes with additives to make it especially resistant to temperature extremes. This will not guarantee that your windshield washer fluid will never freeze, but it makes it extremely unlikely. You can find windshield wiper fluid with a high concentration of antifreeze in it to prevent you from having problems.
If the washer fluid you see in the store does not say “freeze-resistant,” or some variation of this, on it, then it likely won’t prevent freezing. Look for one that states clearly on the label that it resists freezing. This type of windshield wiper fluid may cost a little more, but it is much cheaper than replacing your windshield washer system.
Note: If you decide to add freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid to your car, make sure to drain the reservoir of your existing fluid first, unless you know for a fact that what is in the reservoir is also freeze-resistant. Mixing freeze-resistant and non-freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid could damage your system, so don’t do it. Empty the reservoir and start fresh with the new freeze-resistant solution.
What if My Washer Fluid Is Already Frozen?
You may be reading this because your windshield wiper fluid is already frozen, and you don’t know what to do. You should definitely do something as soon as possible. If your windshield wiper fluid is frozen, you may not be able to see out your front window in rain or snow, and this could have disastrous consequences.
Furthermore, frozen windshield wiper fluid can result in a burst water fluid reservoir and destroyed or torn pumps or nozzles. When this happens, there is nothing to do but replace the components that are damaged, which could be quite costly.
If the windshield wiper fluid is frozen, but the reservoir and nozzles appear to be intact, you do have recourse. Do not pour hot water over the nozzles as this can crack your windshield glass. The simplest thing to do is to go park your car in an insulated garage. Eventually, the fluid will thaw and things will be back to normal.
If you don’t have time for this or don’t have access to a garage, you can thaw out your windshield wiper system with a hairdryer. Plug in the hair dryer, turn it on and point it at the reservoir and the hoses, and you should be able to thaw out the system in no time.
If you don’t have an insulated garage to take your car to and you can’t get a hair dryer plugged in near your car, all is not lost. Your last resort is to remove the reservoir from the car. Just take it out and put it near a radiator or other heat source making sure you have something to catch the melting ice. Once the reservoir is removed, you can also try flushing it with hot water. This should be a last resort since getting the reservoir out can be a little tricky, and you don’t want to get a mechanic to do it for you as he may charge you an arm and a leg for this task.
Once you have successfully thawed out your windshield wiper fluid, you will probably be relieved. But your task is not done yet! You need to change that windshield wiper fluid as soon as possible. As mentioned above, find a freeze-resistant windshield wiper solution with plenty of antifreeze to resist cold temperatures. Drain all of the old windshield wiper fluid out, and replace it with the good stuff as soon as possible.
Choose the Appropriate Chemicals (Antifreeze, Wiper Fluid, Additives, Etc.)
If you need help finding the right chemicals for your car for cold weather, Bar’s Leaks is here to help. We are experts in providing chemical additives that improve performance, including treatments for your entire cooling system. For help choosing the appropriate chemicals and additives for your car, contact Bar’s Leaks today. And use our locator page to find Bar’s Leaks products in your area.