What is the Best Type of Windshield Washer Fluid?
In Ontario we know how valuable windshield washer fluid can be. From the slushy winter snow to the dusty summer back roads, keeping your windshield washer fluid topped up is important. But does the type of windshield washer fluid matter? Should you be using different types of washer fluid for different seasons? It is likely not something you rack your brain about but it can make a big difference. Lets take a look at what options are out there and which formulas make the most sense for Ontarians!
Basic (Summer) Windshield Washer Fluid
Everyone knows the standard washer fluid. Blue liquid in a clear jug. Maybe you are at the gas station and they have it on a stand by the pumps. Sometimes it will be labeled as standard or summer washer fluid. This option is typically inexpensive and there is a reason for that. If the conditions you are driving in are ideal during that time of year and you are not constantly running the fluid this option will do an adequate job keeping your windshield clean. The reason it gets called the summer washer fluid is because it is meant to remove and clean in the most basic and calm conditions. This option is adequate and is better than nothing but certainly does not top the list.
Winter Windshield Washer Fluid (De-icing)
Did you know windshield washer fluid can actually freeze? If you have basic windshield washer fluid the freezing point may not be low enough to remain in its liquid state during the cold winter months. Occasionally it can freeze in the tank and not deploy at all, or it freezes instantly when you spray it on your windshield. Both scenarios are not ideal for driving in the winter. Luckily there are specific washer fluids designed for winter. The ingredients and high concentration of methyl alcohol in these formulas help lower the freezing point. This means that won’t freeze in your tank or refreeze on your windshield. Some are designed to melt thin layers of ice on the windshield as well. When driving in the winter or cold it is strongly encouraged to use winter grade windshield washer fluid. Typically they will have a rating to handle temperatures from -30 to -49 Celsius. Like these brands here: reflex ice defence or rain-x clearview de-icer+.
The downside to the de-icing formulas is they often do not contain as many cleaning ingredients that are effective in cleaning dirt or grime from the windshield. These mixtures also tend to be the most expensive.
All-season Windshield Washer Fluid
Much like all-season tires, all-season windshield washer fluid is adequate year round but doesn’t offer the best protection in the harsh winter months. Certainly it is better to have all-season windshield washer fluid rather than basic windshield washer fluid in cold temperatures. They generally are able to withstand low temperatures. However, the refreeze rate in the cold winter temperatures while it is sprayed on your windshield will not be as good as a winter rated fluid.
There are certain all-season formulas which are good for removing bugs, dirt, bird poo and tar. These brands will often contain “streak-free” on the label and are designed for increased visibility. These are great for the summer months but again not as effective in the winter because their freezing point as not as low as the de-icing solutions.
So What’s the Best?
When it comes to your windshield washer fluid there is no top brand or formula. The important takeaway is that you ensure you have your fluid levels topped up and do not let your windshield washer fluid tank run to empty. Any washer fluid is better than none at all but if you are driving in cold conditions it is worth it to spend the extra money and get the de-icing formula. Always read the label to see what the formula is rated for. Carrying an extra jug in your vehicle is a good idea (and you can sometimes get a discount for buying two). If you live in an area where you are travelling on dirt or gravel roads frequently finding a good streak-free solution may be the best option. Using different formulas throughout the year is likely your best bet.
What’s next? Well your windshield washer fluid is only half the battle, you need to make sure your windshield wipers are also adequate for the time of year and weather conditions. As a last line of defense, you want to make sure you have the proper auto insurance. To review your policy and make sure you will protected in the event of a claim, speak to an insurance broker.