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How to Choose Windshield Wiper Fluid for Winter

A red car with frost on its windshield

If you live in a part of the country that gets cold weather, you know it’s time to put away your shorts and bring out your sweaters and coats when winter rolls around. But, your wardrobe isn’t the only thing that needs to change at this time of year. You’ll also need to alter your approach when caring for your vehicle.

Specifically, it’s wise to change your windshield wiper fluid to one that’s weather appropriate. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the correct windshield wiper fluid for winter.

Why Is Winter Wiper Fluid Necessary?

Wiper fluid containerIn cold climates, winter often brings heavy precipitation. Whether it’s snow, sleet or road salt, your car’s wipers often have their work cut out for them trying to keep your windshield clear. Wiper fluid can help with that. However, if the temperature is below freezing, the standard wiper fluid that works so well during the summer months can freeze in its reservoir, damaging it as well as your car’s wiper pump. Wiper fluid can also freeze directly on the windshield, obscuring visibility and creating unsafe driving conditions.

Winter Wiper Fluid 101

Windshield wiper fluid that’s specifically made for winter weather typically has a higher concentration of methyl alcohol than the standard fluid. This gives it an extremely low freezing point, so it won’t harden in your car’s reservoir or on your windshield.

How to Choose the Right Winter Wiper Fluid

When analyzing the different types of winter wiper fluid, you’ll see that each bottle’s label typically lists the lowest temperature at which the product can perform. For example, one product may resist freezing at up to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit; another may work well in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a close look at the label, and choose a product that’s a good match for the temperatures you experience. In some cases, winter wiper fluid can even melt thin layers of ice. As a result, it can work effectively to keep your car’s wipers from getting frozen to the windshield.

A Word of Warning

The main benefit of winter wiper fluid is that it’s able to resist freezing. Therefore, you may be tempted to add some antifreeze to the standard wiper fluid in your car’s reservoir and call it a day. This isn’t a great idea. Antifreeze has other additives that could wreak havoc on your car’s washer fluid pump. Also, these additives could create a residue on your vehicle’s windshield, making it more difficult for you to see.

Good visibility is important in order to drive safely in winter weather, and your car’s wiper fluid plays a big role in making that happen. By selecting a suitable winter wiper fluid, you can ensure you always have the assistance you need to see the road ahead.

Check out all the windshield fluids available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on windshield wiper fluid for winter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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