Picking the right windshield washer fluid is not the hardest thing in the world, but it is important to get correct.
Not Just Water
One of the most common (and harmful) mistakes we have seen over the years is the thinking that windshield washer fluid is simply just water. That may help clean your windshield off during the summer, but not without problems and complete catastrophe when cold weather hits.
Even if you use the cleanest water available, over time it will still breed bacteria. One of the more prevalent bacterias found is legionella, which can become airborne when using your washers and in turn make you sick. This is most commonly found among professional drivers, who try to save money by simply using water, but this comes with consequences. All washer fluids have some component of alcohol to prevent bacteria from growing or spreading.
Using just water during the wintertime, however, will leave you with a frozen reservoir, lines, and potentially causing damage to your washer system or motor. An attempt to save a few dollars on washer fluid can result in hundreds of dollars in damage.
Not all windshield washer fluids are the same. Depending on where you live and the time of year, your needs and the recommended product may change over time.
Additionally, companies will often add special ingredients to their solutions for a specific purpose. For example, Prestone sells a Bug Wash Windshield Washer Fluid. This product is great for the warmer months as it will help remove and prevent future bugs from sticking to your windshield, but it is not rated for winter temperatures. On the flip side, Prestone’s 3-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid is designed to be all season, and provide winter protection up to -27 degrees Fahrenheit. For someone living in New York, for example, it might make sense to use the Bug Wash during the warmer months due to the bugginess, and then swap over to 3-in-1 or another cold-weather solution for the winter months.
Picking a windshield washer fluid is definitely not rocket science, but take a few moments to ensure you’re getting a product that fits your needs.