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Does Freeze-Resistant Windshield Wiper Fluid Really Work?

Freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid can help protect your vehicle in winter.

We’re not in the clear from freezing temperatures yet – Washington, D.C. has had its fair share of late-season cold blasts and snowfalls. That means winter vehicle maintenance is still very important. One often-overlooked aspect of cold-weather car prep is your windshield and, more specifically, your windshield wiper fluid. 

Anyone who’s driven in the winter can tell you that grime and salt will quickly accumulate on all surfaces of the car, including the windshield, which can make driving even more hazardous in icy and wet conditions. That’s why it’s so important to have effective wiper blades and a full reservoir of windshield wiper fluid. Driving in winter is a mess!

However, windshield wiper fluid can freeze with the plunging temperatures and many drivers in the DMV park outside on the street. Frozen fluid can burst or crack your reservoir, or damage your wiper fluid pump. It can also freeze directly on the windshield itself, obscuring visibility and making driving far more precarious. How do you protect your car and keep your windshield wiper fluid from freezing?

Replace the wiper fluid that works so well in the summer months with a specially-formulated fluid for winter.

If you don’t have the luxury of parking your vehicle someplace warm like an insulated garage, the next best step you can take is to drain your windshield wiper fluid reservoir and replace it with specially-formulated freeze-resistant wiper fluid. Winter wiper fluid comes with additives, such as a higher concentration of methyl alcohol, that make it more resistant to freezing in extremely low temperatures.

Most windshield wiper fluid bottles will indicate if they are for regular (temperate weather) use or for cold weather use. Typically, you can read on the label how cold the fluid can get and still perform. If it’s not specifically marked as freeze-resistant, it might not be the best wiper fluid for your D.C. car between the months of November and March.

It’s important to note: Do not try to concoct your own solution. Mixing in additives on your own will likely cause significant damage to your vehicle, reservoir, pump, and windshield. Antifreeze is not meant for your windshield. If your windshield wiper fluid has already frozen, stop by your local Metro Motor to have our ASE-certified technicians inspect the parts for damage. We can also help you prep for winter by draining your reservoir and suggesting a freeze-resistant windshield wiper fluid for your vehicle.

Vehicle care information made available by Metro Motor is presented as helpful advice for general maintenance and should not be construed as instructions for at-home vehicle service. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual and a licensed, professional mechanic for diagnostics and repair.

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