Windshield wiper fluids are essential in maintaining visibility on the road. However, they come in different types, making it difficult for vehicle owners to find the right one for their vehicles.
If you have been caught up in a dilemma in which windshield wiper fluid to purchase, this guide will take you through the different types to help you land the perfect option for your ride.
Windscreens can accumulate mud, dust, snow, mist, and other unwanted elements that need to be wiped out to maintain clear visibility of the road.
While the windscreen wipers on your vehicles can help, you need to use them alongside a quality windshield wiper fluid to clear the mess effectively. Keep reading to learn about the different types of windshield wiper fluids and a guide for buying.
1. Standard Windshield Washer Fluid
The standard windshield washer fluid is a blend of:
Water: Combines with other chemicals to dissolve the dirt for easy cleaning
Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol: Disinfects the windscreen surface without corroding the vehicle parts. Though to a small extent, the alcohol content also prevents the windshield from freezing.
Lubricants like glycerine: Reduce the friction, skipping, and shuddering of the wipers during their action on the windscreen surface to elongate their service life. They also dissolve the dirt for effective cleaning
Hard water softeners: Prevent hard water mineral buildup that may otherwise clog the spray jets or corrode the windshield washer pump.
However, the formulas falling under this category contain little or zero anti-freezing agents (alcohol), meaning they might freeze if used in areas with cold weather extremes like Alaska, North Dakota, Maine, etc.
In addition, the formulas may come in different colors, including blue, green, orange, yellow, etc., depending on the manufacturer’s preferences.
The 92100815 Kristall Klar Washer Fluid by Nextzett is the perfect example of standard windshield fluid.
You can order the standard wiper fluid from any online store or buy it in your neighboring physical store for vehicle accessories.
The fluids may come as a concentrate, requiring dilution, while others may come as ready fluids, offering more convenience. Be sure to check the instruction manual before applying to avoid mistakes.
- Cleans most types of dirt
- Avoids friction, and shuddering of the wipers on the screen surface, to elongate their life
- It doesn’t corrode or stain the vehicle parts
- Affordable option
- Not ideal for cleaning during winter due to lack of anti-freezing agents
2. Bug Remover Wiper Fluid
As the name suggests, the bug remover wiper fluids are specifically formulated for cleaning bug splatter, road grime, tree sap, bird droppings, and other types of dirt on the windscreen. They are ideal for use during the summer and spring seasons when birds and bugs are most prevalent in yards, garages, and roads.
The common ingredients you can find in most bug remover wiper fluids include:
Power Cleaners like vinegar solution to penetrate and break down the hard residues, for hassle-free cleaning.
Bug Stoppers like isopropyl alcohol to create a non-stick surface (barrier) which prevents road grime, bug waste, and other unwanted elements from sticking on the windscreen.
Lubricating Agents to avoid friction and vibration of the wipers on the windscreen to boost their durability
Essential Oils to add some fragrance to the windshield fluid
Coloring Agents attract and allow vehicle owners to identify their favorite windshield fluids easily
Like standard wiper fluids, most bug wiper fluids don’t have anti-freezing agents, hence not ideal for areas with freezing temperatures.
- Contain power cleaners that penetrate and break any unwanted elements, including bug splatter, tree sap, bird droppings, etc., on the windscreen
- Contain stain-free agents to repel the sticky elements from attaching to the windscreen
- They lack anti-freezing agents
3. Water Beading Windshield Washer Fluids
These are silicone-based formulas that force water drops to bead up and roll off to the ground after hitting your windshield. The idea behind the beading action is to help avoid the accumulation of rainwater on the windshield for clearer visibility.
As the vehicle accelerates, its speed and that of the wind compel the rainwater to go up the windshield, decreasing your visibility on the road. And, Water Beading wiper fluids come in handy to help you avoid such water buildup.
Examples of ingredients you may find in these formulas include:
Ethanol acts as a solvent in dissolving other ingredients. Ethanol also helps remove oil and other dirt from the windscreen.
Isopropanol Alcohol removes grease and oil stains as well as disinfects the windscreen surface
Though included in small quantities, the above two alcohols aid in maintaining the liquid state of the water-beading windshield fluids during cold weather.
Polydimethylsiloxanes (PDMS): These are dual methyl groups attached to inorganic silicon-oxygen. The silicon-oxygen forms a thin transparent coating on the windshield surface, and the attached methyl group repel against rainwater and compel it to bead up and fall off your windscreen.
A perfect example of the Water Beading Windshield Washer Fluids is the Rain-X White RX11806D Washer Fluid.
- They create a transparent waterproof surface, which repels rainwater and other types of fluid waste
- Most products are available as additives, meaning you can use them several times
- The chemicals in the formula may cause streaks on the windshield wiper blades as they age
4. De-Icing Windshield Washer Fluid
De-icing windshield washer fluids are formulated to provide effective windshield wiper fluid for use during cold weather extremes/ for use in cold areas without freezing. The anti-freezing compounds only inhibit freezing the wiper fluid and help remove some layers of ice on the windshield.
The commonly used ingredients in this type of fluid include:
Power Cleaners like white vinegar to penetrate and break grime and other unwanted elements
Antifreezing Compounds like ethylene glycol and methanol to prevent the fluid from freezing and breaking thin layers of ice off the windshield
Water Beading Agents to repel the accumulation of water on the windscreen
However, the higher concentration of anti-freezing agents in most de-icing wiper fluids leaves little room for most cleaning agents. This reduces their efficiency in cleaning grime and other types of dirt.
The Rain-x 113645 De-icer & Bug Remover Windshield Washer Fluid is an excellent example of de-icing wiper fluid.
- They resist freezing up to -49 degrees Celsius
- Can thin transparent layers of frost on the windscreen
- Water repellant
- Not effective in cleaning grime and other dirt due to low concentration of cleaning agents
- Can cause streaks on the wiper blades
- Costly options
5. All-Season Windshield/Wiper Fluid
The all-season wiper fluids are your go-to option if you are looking for a windshield wiper fluid that can serve you all year round with minor hitches.
One advantage of these windshield fluids is that they can endure mist and cold weather extremes (up to -45 degrees celsius) without freezing.
Additionally, they contain a moderate amount of cleaning agents and bug splatter removers to allow you to maintain a crystal clear windscreen all year round.
A perfect example of all-season wiper fluids is the Rain-X® All-Season Windshield Washer Fluid
- Perfect for all weather application
- Versatile cleaning fluid
- May streak the wiper blades as they age
- May freeze when exposed to extreme cold
Buyers Guide: How To Choose A Windshield Wiper Fluid For Your Vehicle
Now that you understand the different types of wiper fluids available, the next thing is to familiarize yourself with how to choose the perfect wiper fluid for your vehicle.
Below are the various factors to consider before you pick any wiper fluid.
Alcohol (whether ethanol, isopropanol, or methanol) is an excellent anti-freezing agent. Suppose the temperatures in your region tend to dip below 0 degrees Celsius.
In that case, you should go for fluids with a significant amount of alcohol to prevent the wiper fluid from freezing inside the vehicle’s storage chambers. Besides, alcohol is a good disinfectant and a cleaner too.
Reliability of the Manufacturer
Some brands like Prestone, Rain-X, and NextZett have a well-laid record of producing quality wiper fluids while others are not.
I recommend you to go for a brand whose products have been tested and verified to be of top-notch quality. Just visit the manufacturer’s site or social media pages and see what their past customers say about the product.
When looking for windshield fluids, the last thing you would like is to land a wiper fluid that leaves films of dirt on your windshield.
The best way to avoid this is to look for a formula with smear-free compounds like ammonia, white vinegar, and other formulations to avoid the streaks. On the same note, it is advisable to confirm whether the type of non-smear compound in your wiper fluid is ideal for use on your windscreen.
The formulas containing ammonia, for instance, may not be safe for use in tinted windows.
I’m usually fond of Rain-X products because their wiper fluids, especially the ones formulated for use in cold weather extremes, never disappoint.
What time of the year do you wish to use the wiper fluid? The standard wiper fluids are ideal if you are looking for a quality fluid for cleaning dirt off your windshield during summer and spring.
On the other hand, the water beading options may be ideal if you are looking for a water repellant wiper fluid during rainy seasons. And if you live in areas with cold extremes, then de-icing wiper fluids might do wonders for you.
If you are tired of feeding your windscreen washer fluid reservoir with different formulas and are looking for an all-time solution for cleaning your windshield, then all-season wiper fluids are the perfect match for you.
Concentrate or Ready-Mix
Windshield cleaners can either come as a concentrate or ready mix. I highly advocate for the ready mixes, as they save you the time you may otherwise spend mixing the fluids.
That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the concentrated windshield fluids. But the chances of mixing the formulas wrongly while adding the concentrates are high. Go for concentrates only if you are an expert in mixing the wiper fluid.
When Do You Refill Your Windshield Wiper Fluid
Some vehicles have indicators installed to notify you when the windshield washer reservoir is low or empty. And these indicators may either take the form of a written message, a symbol of wipers, or spray nozzles spraying water. You should refill the fluids as soon as you notice these signals.
If you are using a vintage car without the above signals, you must keep your eyes on the pressure of your windscreen nozzles. If the pressure is low, it could mean that the fluid level has gone down on the reservoir or there is a blockage in the nozzles.
In that case, do not try to activate the windshield washer system anymore, as it may cause the pump system to overheat and fail.
Instead, stop your vehicle, and refill the reservoir. If the reservoir is full, you might have to take your windscreen washer system for thorough inspection and repair by a specialist.
How To Refill The Windshield Fluid
Refilling your windshield fluid reservoir doesn’t have to be complex. If your windshield nozzles aren’t releasing any fluid after activation, then perhaps your reservoir has gone empty. You can refill using the following procedure.
- Open the bonnet of your vehicle to access the reservoir
- Locate the reservoir cap (which features an image of water spraying on a windshield) to open it
- Carefully pour the windshield fluid into the ironing of the reservoir until it reaches the indicated full mark
- Replace the reservoir cap
- Close the vehicle hood, and you are dining refilling the windshield washer fluid
Frequently Asked Questions About Windshield Wiper Fluids
Below are answers to various questions that vehicle owners have asked about windshield wiper fluids:
Does it matter what type of windshield wiper fluid I use?
Yes. Different types of windshield water fluids are formulated with different ingredients to perform different purposes.
For instance, the de-icer wiper fluids are designed for winter extremes, while the standard windshield fluids are ideal for cleaning grime and other dirt during summer. So it’s good to ensure you choose the fluids for your area’s climate.
Are all windshield wiper fluids the same?
The simple answer to this question is no. the windshield wiper fluids feature a different concentration of chemicals. They may come as concentrates or ready-for-use fluids, which perform different functions as mentioned above.
What type of windshield wiper fluid is the best for your Car?
The best windshield wiper fluid for your car is the one whose ingredients match the climate in your area and clean your vehicle’s windscreen without leaving any smears in the windscreen.
Can I mix different types of washer fluid?
There is nothing wrong with mixing fluids from different brands, provided they are designed to perform the same purpose.
However, mixing fluids that perform different functions might sometimes interfere with their chemical balance and negatively affect your wound screen. Don’t attempt it unless you are an expert.
Is there a difference between Winter and Summer windshield washer fluid?
The winter windshield fluids contain a higher concentration of anti-freezing agents (alcohol), while the summer wiper fluids might contain little to zero alcohol.
In addition. The winter wiper fluid contains a low concentration of cleaning agents, while their summer counterparts are rich in cleaning agents.
Can I use water instead of windshield wiper fluid?
It is not advisable to use water instead of windshield fluids. Why? This is because water is devoid of cleaning agents, making it a less efficient cleaner.
Additionally, water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius, which can freeze inside the reservoir and the pipes and damage them.
Lastly, water might contain minerals, clog the spray nozzles, and tendering the entire system non-functional.
Can you use glass cleaner as windshield wiper fluid?
No. You should not use glass cleaners to clean your windshield. This is because the ingredients in these formulations are exclusively meant for glasses and might be too harsh on the rubber and plastic components within the washer system.
Be sure to use the recommended windshield fluids, which are tried and tested to be gentle to the vehicle parts.