Frozen windshield washer fluid can cause some significant visibility issues during the winter. As you drive, dirty slush gets sprayed onto your vehicle from other cars on the road. Trying to clear this mess from your windshield is nearly impossible without windshield washer fluid. So how you keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing? We researched this topic and have the answers for you.
The best way to prevent frozen windshield washer fluid is to use a windshield washer fluid that is freeze resistant. If you want to keep your regular windshield washer fluid from freezing, there are a few techniques to help with that:
- Park your vehicle somewhere warm.
- Use an engine block heater to prevent freezing overnight.
- Install a windshield washer fluid heater.
- Make your windshield washer fluid from household ingredients.
In this post, we will take a more in-depth look at how to keep your windshield washer fluid unfrozen. We will also compare summer and winter washer fluid. Then we'll dive into antifreeze, Rain-X, and several types of winter windshield washer fluid. Keep reading to learn more.
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Prevent Windshield Washer Fluid From Freezing
Frozen windshields can be a real pain. Often, the best way to clear a frozen windshield is to spray some windshield washer fluid on it to dissolve the ice. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't work when your windshield washer fluid freezes in the reservoir.
The easiest, proactive solution to prevent frozen windshield washer fluid is to use winter windshield washer fluid. Winter specific windshield washer fluid contains both alcohol (either methanol or ethanol) and antifreeze to keep it from freezing.
Let's break down those freeze-resistant ingredients:
Antifreeze is an additive that keeps water from freezing at temperatures below 32°F and is made by combining water with either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Most antifreeze found in vehicles is made with ethylene glycol and is more toxic than propylene glycol, used in cooling systems for things like food products.
Methanol is the type of alcohol most commonly used in windshield washer fluid. However, due to issues with toxicity, ethanol is becoming a more popular choice. Both methanol and ethanol are types of alcohol, and they aid in not only keeping your windshield washer fluid thawed but also in defrosting a frozen windshield.
How Do I Keep Regular Windshield Washer Fluid From Freezing?
You may need to keep your regular windshield washer fluid from freezing in situations where you don't have access to winter windshield washer fluid. Let's take a more in-depth look at how to do this.
Keep Your Vehicle Warm
It may seem like an obvious answer, but parking your vehicle inside an insulated garage can indeed go a long way in keeping your windshield washer fluid from freezing. However, this approach does not work to keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing up while you are driving.
Use An Engine Block Heater
Engine block heaters are widely used in cold climates, most commonly on diesel engines, due to how difficult it is to start these engines once cold. In addition to keeping motor oil from getting to cold, engine block heaters will also work to prevent other engine compartment fluids, such as windshield washer fluid, from freezing.
Use an engine block heater for a vehicle while parked for a long time. As with parking your vehicle indoors, this approach only works to keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing while you are not driving.
Install A Windshield Washer Fluid Heater
Depending upon your vehicle, you may be able to install a windshield washer fluid heater. Some cars already come equipped with windshield washer fluid heaters, but most do not. Adding a heater could help tremendously with your windshield defrosting efforts.
These heaters heat your windshield washer fluid on demand while your car is running. The heated fluid can help clear clogged windshield washer lines and remove stubborn ice and gunk from your windshield.
Most windshield washer fluid heaters are intended for DIY installation.
Make Your Own Freeze-Resistant Windshield Washer Fluid
For a solution that works on the go, you can make your own freeze-resistant windshield washer fluid using distilled water, rubbing alcohol, and castile soap.
- In a large container, mix 8oz of rubbing alcohol with one gallon of water.
- Add one tablespoon of dish soap, and mix well.
- Drain your current windshield washer fluid from the reservoir, and refill it with your homemade windshield washer fluid.
- Test the homemade windshield washer fluid to make sure it works on your windshield.
If the homemade windshield washer fluid starts freezing, you can add more alcohol to increase the fluid's freeze-resistance capabilities.
While making your windshield washer fluid can save you money, it may not be ideal for your car. Use this approach with a heavy dose of caution.
What's The Difference Between Summer And Winter Washer Fluid?
There are two main differences between summer windshield washer fluid and winter windshield washer fluid: composition and cost. First, we'll take a look at how the composition varies between these two, and then at how the prices vary based on that.
Summer Washer Fluid Composition Vs. Winter Washer Fluid Composition
Most windshield washer fluid is a combination of water, alcohol, and antifreeze. Further, the most significant difference between summer and winter windshield washer fluid is the ratio of water to alcohol and antifreeze. As you might imagine, a higher concentration of chemicals results in lower chances of freezing.
Winter windshield washer fluid usually has a ratio of 1:1, meaning 1 part water for every 1 part chemical solution. To put it even more simply, half of the bottle is a chemical solution, and the other half is water. Comparatively, summer windshield washer fluid often has a ratio of 1:10 being one part of alcohol and antifreeze for every ten parts water. Summer windshield washer fluids have significantly lower concentrations of alcohol and antifreeze than the winter mixes, and this is why they freeze up when the temperatures drop below freezing.
There isn't much downside to using a winter windshield washer fluid year-round when it comes to function. In fact, many people do that. However, there is one practical downside, and that's the price.
Winter Windshield Washer Fluid Can Be Pricey
The price difference between winter windshield washer fluid and summer or general-purpose fluid can be a little shocking. One gallon of general-purpose fluid should cost less than $10. On the other hand, one gallon of windshield washer fluid for de-icing can cost up to $20. Unless you drive in freezing temperatures often, the extra price of winter-specific windshield washer fluid may not be worth it.
Can I Use Windshield Washer Fluid As Antifreeze?
It would be best if you did not use windshield washer fluid in place of antifreeze in your vehicle. While windshield washer fluid has some of the same ingredients and may look similar, it is not the same.
Windshield washer fluid is for washing windows, and it contains some form of alcohol. Antifreeze, also known as coolant, is for regulating the temperature of your engine. These are two different fluids, each meant for entirely different tasks. Do not use windshield washer fluid and antifreeze interchangeably.
Does Rain-X Freeze?
Rain-X is a company that makes products focused on aftermarket automotive glass care. They are well known for glass treatments that cause water to bead and roll off of the glass.
Rain-X makes several different types of windshield washer fluid. Depending upon which washer fluid you use, you may experience frozen windshield washer fluid. To avoid frozen windshield washer fluid, get Rain-X that includes a de-icer.
What Is The Best Windshield Washer Fluid For Winter?
As we mentioned above, Rain-X with de-icer can be a good choice if you're looking to avoid frozen windshield washer fluid but still want a spotless windshield.
Prestone also makes a popular de-icer windshield washer. This windshield washer fluid advertises streak-free de-icing capabilities and freeze resistance in temperatures as cold as -27°F.
Peak makes a de-icing windshield wiper fluid that stays unfrozen down to -25°F. Peak advertises this fluid as being appropriate for all-season use. This fluid also causes rain to bead, similar to Rain-X.
Another option is X-Treme Blue Windshield Washer Fluid. This washer fluid is freeze-resistant down to -20°F and contains methanol.
The best way to keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing is to use a washer fluid that is resistant to freezing. Washer fluid for winter use contains alcohol in the form of either methanol or ethanol. Winter fluid also contains antifreeze. Windshield washer fluid with higher concentrations of alcohol and antifreeze are the most freeze-resistant. To prevent windshield washer fluid from freezing in parked vehicles, use an engine block heater, or park the vehicle in an insulated garage.