Top Winter Washer Fluids You Should be Using
Auto Trends | 6 min read
Published: February 27, 2023
Winter is in full swing, and that means we’ve all been spending time driving in the cold weather. This guide is here to help you choose the right wiper fluid for your vehicle in the winter. Don’t let frosty windows make it hard to see things! Here are some of the best washer fluid options for the winter.
During the colder months, precipitation feels like it’s at an all-time high. It can feel like sleet, snow, dust, dirt, and other debris is being magnetically pulled to your car’s windshield, making it pretty much impossible to see the road - which is probably not exactly safe. Your poor wipers end up having to work twice as hard to get the dirt off your windshield so that you can get from A to B.
All this excess work means that your wiper blades tend to get worn out faster in the winter months. Combine that with the fact that most standard wiper fluids typically freeze in the winter (especially if you live in seriously cold climates), and you’re setting yourself up for a windshield recipe for disaster.
The first step is to shop around for wiper fluid that’s specifically designed for the colder months. These usually have a higher concentration of methyl alcohol than standard wiper fluid, giving it an extremely low freezing point. This means that your fluid will stay liquid in your water reservoir, no matter the outside temperature. It also means that your new fluid won’t harden on your windshield when you’re trying to clear the glass, making the experience just generally less frustrating.
When looking for the right wiper fluid for winter, you should be able to quickly tell what temperature range the product can perform at right on the bottle’s front label. Some products are designed to resist freezing down to minus 20 F, while others can go as low as minus 50 F, so there’s something for pretty much everyone regardless of climate.
Keep in mind that there’s really no added benefit to buying a washer fluid made for more extreme temperatures if you live in a more moderate climate. You’ll want to look for one that’s well below the temperatures you face every winter but not so low that you’re spending extra money on a product you don’t need. If you’re looking for washer fluids that are compatible with ExoShield windshield protection film, we generally recommend looking for ammonia-free products as this can damage the film.
Here’s a list of our top three favorite picks for winter washer fluids:
This class-leading windshield washer fluid detergent outperforms the typical blue washer fluid you’ll get from most dealerships or service mechanics. This powerful cleaning formulation is 200 times more concentrated than the standard pre-mixed washer fluid allowing it to easily remove road grime, bugs, sap, and dirt without causing smearing or glare that can hinder your driving ability. Because the formula is so concentrated, it dramatically reduces the wear and tear of your wiper blades and eliminates any blade skipping or shuddering. It contains softeners that prevent mineral buildup in your car’s washer system, and it dissolves completely without leaving behind residue that will clog your system. On top of that, this fluid is biodegradable and doesn’t contain ammonia, so your chrome, paintwork, and plastic won’t suffer over time. All in all, we consider this to be a great choice when it comes to winter wiper fluid.
The Rain-X® 2-in-1 De-icer with Bug Remover is formulated with similar advanced technology for streak-free cleaning power as the Kristall Klar washer fluid. With its powerful beading technology, this fluid allows you to maintain visibility no matter how many bugs are hitting your windscreen. Its de-icing formula helps to dissolve and remove any ice buildup on your windscreen. Of course, you can also count on it to remove any silt or dirt built up on your windscreen. It’s an excellent cold-weather choice, and we can’t recommend it enough.
Prestone® 2-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid is an excellent choice for the more budget-conscious buyer, as you can use it in both cold and warm weather. This windshield cleaner will give you excellent visibility throughout the year, and provides excellent visibility, no matter the weather conditions. As a great all-rounder, you can’t go wrong with this pick.
In some cases, you may find wiper fluids (like the Rain-X® 2-in-1 De-icer) that can melt thin layers of ice that build up on your car’s windshield. These fluids can significantly improve your visibility while preventing your wipers from getting frozen to the windshield.
Another pro tip - remember to always empty the water reservoir of your summer wiper fluid; otherwise, the two liquids can counteract each other, and you’ll end up with an ineffective mess (we may or may not have made this mistake before…)
It might seem like common sense, but believe it or not, we’ve been asked one too many times whether or not adding antifreeze to the washer fluid reservoir is a good idea. I mean, we kinda get it - you don’t want your water to freeze, so (naturally) you add some antifreeze to prevent that from happening. But antifreeze and freeze-resistant wiper fluid are two very different things. Antifreeze can be incredibly damaging to your water pump and leave a filmy residue on your car’s windscreen.
Not to mention that if you’ve got any protective products on your windshield like ExoShield windshield protection film, it could prematurely damage to the film’s surface.
Having the right windshield washer fluid in winter will make a huge difference in your safety and overall driving experience in the winter!
Remember to look for formulations that work at the temperatures your climate typically reaches to get the best performance so you're not caught with frozen wiper fluid lines!
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