Your windshield wipers can only do so much. Without the right cleaning fluid, the wiper blades can actually create more of a mess and obstruct your field of vision. Many people overlook the importance of keeping their cars stocked with fluid, but it is important. There are several types of fluids available. Here is what you should know.
Standard Windshield Washer Fluid
Most stores will carry a standard washer fluid for very cheap. While this may be good for cars that do not do a lot of driving, it should be used sparingly. This is one of those situations where you get what you pay for. If you drive in very muddy or dusty conditions, this fluid may not help clear the windshield as well as some others. Cheap fluid may also not have an additive to prevent freezing, rendering it impossible to use in cold weather.
Winter Windshield Fluid
Even though the label will say winter, this fluid is perfectly fine to be used year round. The winter varieties typically have a de-icer added to the formula. This will prevent the fluid from freezing in the tank, and can help prevent ice from building up on the windshield when you use it.
A feature on many newer car models is a heated fluid reservoir. These can also be added to virtually any vehicle after the purchase if they don not offer this already. The advantage is in areas that experience freezing weather, or harsh conditions, the fluid will not freeze as easily. It is still a good idea to use a winter or all weather fluid along with these though, as the heaters only operate when the car is on and running.
Homemade Washer Fluid
If you search online you will find recipes for homemade washer fluid. This can save you money, but is not always the best idea. Most of these recipes contain simple soap and water. This can freeze in cold conditions. Not only can it freeze in the tank, it can freeze on your windshield, making driving dangerous. Soap and water is not going to remove stuck on grime either, and can create more of a mess than your windshield wipers can handle. Store bought fluid contains methanol, which is not something people should be mixing on their own. There is no point in making your own when you consider that a gallon can be purchased for under 2 bucks. Keeping an extra gallon in the trunk of your car will allow you to add more when needed, even if you are travelling and cannot stop at an auto parts store to purchase more.
Keep Good Blades Installed
The best windshield wiper fluid in the world is not going to do what it is designed to do if you have old wiper blades. The fluid is designed to work with the blades, not in place of them. It is a good idea to check your blades each time you need to add fluid. Windshield wiper blades are inexpensive and easy to swap out on your own.