Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Why You Should Own Windshield Washer Fluid - Vol.341

Whether it be traversing off-road, driving through inclement weather (rain, snow), or simply going about your daily commute to work, it's always smart to keep your windshield clean and unobstructed by the elements.

Regardless if you reside within a warm climate or a place where conditions go below freezing, windshield washer fluid is recommended not only to keep you and your passengers safe, but also for standard maintenance of your vehicle. Made of up of either methanol or ethanol with water and available either as a concentrated solution or in a diluted form, washer fluid is used to clean dust, dirt, bugs, as well as ice and snow accumulated during the winter months.

Of the washer fluids available in store, there are different fluids suited for different seasons?those dedicated to the warm, summer months that are effective at cleaning dirt, grime, bugs and other nasties and those dedicated to withstanding colder temperatures due to the addition of antifreeze. Owners can purchase either concentrated fluid or tablets that can be mixed with water or ready-made washer fluid. It is important to factor in the weather and use the appropriate washer fluid in order to prevent any harm to either the owner, or the vehicle.

Knowing the Washer System
Owners should be aware of their vehicle's parts: each vehicle is equipped with a windshield washer system to clean the front glass (Windshield Fluid Reservoir, Fluid Pump, Fluid Lines and Hoses, Nozzles or Sprayers, A Button to Activate Washers, and Wiping System). Washer fluid also serves the purpose of acting as a lubricant for the parts, of which the inside of the fluid pump can corrode and any parts containing plastic can degrade over time if there is no fluid present.

With negligence, the lack of maintaining the washer reservoir can cause further damage, resulting in leakage, hampering the vehicle's washer system or even ruining it completely. One should be aware of whether there is fluid present prior to further use to keep the vehicle properly maintained.

Knowing Your Fluid
Obtaining premium or standard washer fluid is cheap and should last for some time. However, some owners opt to not use store-bought products due to the toxicity of methanol and other additives such as ethylene glycol found in antifreeze, which handled improperly or ingested can cause a variety of health problems or death. Owners should be cautious when handling potentially dangerous liquids, washer fluid or not.

For those wary of products available in-store, there are various home recipes available online that may prove to be viable alternatives. However, it is to the owner's discretion when using homemade solutions as an alternative. Any potential damage to a vehicle due to the usage of non-purpose alternatives is the responsibility of the owner.

Water, a Terrible Solution
It is recommended to not use water as a replacement to washer fluid as it is does not contain the required additives to properly clean and maintain a vehicle's washer system.

Though environmentally friendly and more widely available, water can cause hundreds of dollars of damage internal damage to an owner's vehicle.

As well, in warm weather, constant exposure to heat can cause the water in the reservoir to be septic, becoming a home to bacteria potentially dangerous to an owner's health. In the UK alone, 20 percent of those affected by Legionnaire's Disease were caused water in the vehicle's reservoir becoming contaminated with Legionella bacterium.

Water is particularly ineffective in the cold, especially below freezing, as it can freeze inside the washer system and render it damaged and potentially unusable. Without a functioning washer system, driving through inclement weather conditions can be highly dangerous and even fatal.

Even those adamant against the use of standard washer fluid can recognize that without a store-bought or homemade solution, driving without proper visibility is debilitating and can be fatal not only to the driver or his or her passengers, but to other vehicles sharing the road as well.