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How to Choose Winter Windshield Washer Fluid

Car windshield on a snowy day

In many parts of the country, winter brings snow and ice. Both of these things can hinder visibility when you’re behind the wheel.

That’s where windshield washer fluid comes in. Working in tandem with your car’s wipers, this fluid can help clear ice and precipitation from your windshield. Certain types of washer fluid are better able to handle the rigors of winter than others, so if you’re driving in frigid temperatures, it’s essential to choose a product that’s designed to handle cold weather.

So, what should you look for when choosing winter windshield washer fluid? Here are a few questions to ask when making a purchase:

What’s the Lowest Temperature at Which the Fluid Can Perform?

This is far and away the most important thing to figure out when buying washer fluid for winter weather. Fluids that aren’t designed for use in cold weather will freeze when the mercury drops below certain temperatures. If the fluid freezes, it won’t be able to clear your windshield. Even worse, frozen washer fluid can damage your vehicle by rupturing the fluid reservoir, splitting open the lines or damaging the pump. The product label will indicate the lowest temperature at which the washer fluid can perform. Choose a fluid that can handle the temperature lows where you live.

Does the Washer Fluid Have De-Icing Capability?

Some types of washer fluid contain ingredients that can help prevent or remove ice on your car’s windshield. Made with chemicals designed to accelerate melting, they are able to keep the windshield clear without putting undue stress on the car’s wipers, whose motors can burn out if they face too much resistance. If a fluid works as a de-icer, this trait will usually be listed on the label.

Can the Washer Fluid Repel Road Spray?

Road spray can be a dangerous nuisance during winter driving. In cold weather, road salt is used to melt snow and ice on the pavement. When other cars drive over the mixture of melted snow and road salt, it creates a spray that dries into a crusty film which can coat your windshield and cutting visibility significantly. Some washer fluids contain special surfactants that are designed to easily clean road grime and prevent it from sticking to the windshield. Check the label to see if the fluid you’re considering has this capability.

Does the Washer Fluid Remove Bugs and other Debris?

In some regions, it’s common for bugs, pollen, tree sap and more to collide with the windshield when a car is in motion. Some fluids include substances designed to break down and remove such debris from your car’s windshield. This product can help keep your windshield clear year-round and into the cold months.

During winter driving, your safety may depend on the type of windshield washer fluid you choose. Now you have the knowledge you need to make a smart purchase.

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

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.


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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