Some say Canada has two seasons: winter and construction. Whether you’re driving through a slushy snowstorm or down a dusty, dug-up street, a spritz of windshield washer fluid can keep you seeing clearly. But not all washer fluids are created equal. Some formulas are better for melting snow and ice, while others tackle bugs, dirt, and tar. Get to know your options before topping up your washer tank.
Seeing clearly when driving may depend on which windshield washer fluid you choose. Make sure you know your options before topping up your washer tank.
Standard windshield washer fluid
First, let’s talk about your basic, no-frills washer fluid, sometimes labeled as “summer windshield washer fluid.” This is usually the least expensive option and widely available at gas stations, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Your basic, low-end washer fluid will likely keep your windshield clean when conditions are relatively calm, but there are other more effective options you’ll want to consider if you regularly deal with snow, ice, mud, or other elements.
De-icing windshield washer fluid
Regular windshield washer fluid can freeze — either in the washer tank or when you spray it onto your windshield on an extremely chilly day. Windshield washer formulas that are dedicated to driving in winter weather usually include higher concentrations of methyl alcohol, giving them a lower freezing point so they won’t freeze in your tank or cause dangerous refreeze in cold conditions. They can also melt thin layers of ice in temperatures as low as -49° Celsius (read the label as this can vary by formula and manufacturer).
Windshield washer fluid for bugs, tar, and other grime
Specifically formulated to banish sticky bugs, tar, dirt, bird droppings, and oil (or one of the above) from your view, these formulas are designed for summer driving — in fact, some may freeze if used in the winter, so be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing. Consider looking for “streak-free” formulas for increased visibility.
Water repellent treatments
While water repellent treatments don’t technically count as “windshield washer fluids,” they can be helpful additions to your glass-care arsenal. Water repellent treatments will generally come in a spray bottle, in a liquid form that you wipe onto your windshield and windows using a soft cloth, or in a ready-to-use wipe version. They’re formulated to repel water and snow and improve visibility while you’re driving.
Not all windshield washer fluids are created equal. Whether it be a standard washer fluid, a de-icing formula, or a fluid to repel bugs and dirt, always read the label so you know exactly what you’re buying.
All-season windshield washer fluid
If you can’t decide which windshield washer fluid you need, many brands offer “all-season” products for year-round use. They generally withstand low temperatures without freezing (make sure the temperature rating is right for your conditions), and the formulation includes ingredients to tackle the sticky messes that can obstruct your view.
No matter which windshield washer fluid you choose, it’s a good idea to have an extra jug in the trunk so you always have a clear view of what’s ahead. It’s also a good idea to have a clear view of your car insurance policy in case you run into bumps along the way. Questions about your policy? Reach out to your broker today.
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