Is it OK to Refill the Windshield Wiper Fluid with Water?


By  AIS Windshield Experts

Category:  Windshield Wipers

Wiper Fluid for Car

Using plain old tap water in a windshield washer fluid reservoir sure seems like an easy fix when you're in a bind, right? It's a tempting option since water is so cheap and readily available. But it's important to understand that there are better substitutes for proper washer fluid. Even though it may be convenient when that blue stuff unexpectedly runs out, especially mid-winter, water doesn't have the right properties to work well in a washer system.

This purpose-made windshield washer fluid contains special detergent additives to help cut through stuck-on grime like insect guts, tree sap, road tar, and other messes that plain water just can't dissolve easily. Trying to use water will likely leave behind smears and streaks rather than a crystal-clean windshield. The wiper fluid is also formulated with antifreeze, usually methanol or ethylene glycol, that keeps it flowing freely even when temps dip below freezing.

It is true that water has no antifreeze, so using it in subzero weather risks a frozen blockage disaster. The water can freeze right in the reservoir, along the hoses, and even at the nozzles, stopping the flow needed to clear the windshield.

Another key benefit of proper premixed wiper fluid is the dye added to give it that characteristic blue colouring. While it may seem like just a cosmetic addition, that dye serves an important functional purpose - it allows you to see precisely where the spray lands on the windshield. That helps identify any missed patches so the entire glass can be thoroughly cleaned. Clearwater won't leave any trace, making it nearly impossible to spot inadequately sprayed areas. In case you’re considering windshield wiper replacement, choose AIS Windshield Experts.

Some premium windshield washer fluids also contain special water-repelling agents that prevent beading at higher speeds. This allows the liquid to cling evenly to the glass rather than splattering off erratically. Again, plain old water lacks these features, meaning you may have a scattered splatter mess rather than consistent cleaning coverage.

Finally, quality premixed washer fluid contains glycols and other agents that substantially slow evaporation compared to water. That keeps the reservoir from constantly running dry. With straight water, evaporation happens quickly on hot under hood components, so the tank needs refilling far more frequently.

Having some visibility is always better than a filthy windshield when completely out of wiper fluid. But there are a few precautions to take:

  • Use the cleanest, filtered or distilled water possible rather than tap water to minimise mineral deposits.
  • In frigid conditions, pour warm or hot water initially for some antifreeze ability before it freezes.
  • Refill the water very frequently as it evaporates faster than true washer fluid. Check the level often.
  • Be prepared to hand scrub the windshield when water fails to dissolve the stuck-on mess fully.
  • Replace with real premixed washer fluid containing detergents and antifreeze as soon as possible.

The key point in cleaning windscreen wipers is that although water in a windshield washer reservoir may seem like no big deal, there are more effective substitutes for formulated fluid. Use the proper blue juice concentrate or premixed jug with the right mix of cleaning agents and freeze protection for the best visibility and safety, especially in harsh winter conditions. This will keep the windshield crystal clear and fog-free all season long! In case you’re not able to do this the right way, getting professional help from AIS Windshield Experts would be a great solution. Moreover, choosing a windshield wiper replacement option would be the best option for you.

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