With all the costs that come with maintaining a vehicle, it makes sense to save money wherever you can. Windshield wiper fluid is one more cost that everyone would like to avoid, whether it’s by going with the cheapest brand available, using water, or making your own solution. Keep reading to learn which choice is best.
Is Water Safe to Use?
If your city has a warm climate, you might get away with replacing wiper fluid with regular water. It’s cheap, and it’s safe for the environment. It will also work in a pinch if you don’t have time to grab a new bottle of regular fluid.
However, there are downsides. There aren’t any cleaning solvents in plain water, so it won’t clean your windshield as well as commercial products. Even worse, sitting water attracts bacteria, and using it for your vehicle may increase your risk of contracting Legionnaire’s disease.
If you live in a colder climate, water is an absolute no-no; it freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and can freeze the lines and the tank, damaging your washer system.
Are Commercial Products Safe?
That blue windshield wiper fluid that you buy off the shelf contains a toxic chemical: methanol. This is an understandable safety concern. However, it does serve the purpose of lowering the liquid’s freezing point. You won’t need to worry about frozen lines, and your windshield will also be much more clean, thanks to the added detergent. Also, the alcohol prevents bacterial growth, which means no Legionnaire’s disease!
What Commercial Product Should I Choose?
A general wiper fluid works well for warm weather. If you have cold winters, you’ll want to invest in a winter wiper fluid. Most winter wiper fluids contain methanol with ethylene glycol, a more powerful antifreeze. De-icing fluid is also available. It is basically a strong concentration of isopropyl alcohol that helps to melt the ice on your windshield. As an added bonus, it is less toxic than methanol.
When choosing a commercial wiper fluid, make sure to check the freezing point on the bottle to make sure that it suits your climate. Some wiper fluids come in a concentrated form and must be diluted with water at home, so be mindful of that, too.
Can’t I Just Make My Own Wiper Fluid?
You most certainly can make your own windshield wiper fluid! Homemade wiper fluid is safer to use than water or chemical products, it’s environmentally friendly, and it could even save you money.
One method is to mix water with white vinegar; the vinegar helps by killing bacteria. The downside is that this fluid will freeze in cold weather, and it may have a strong vinegar odor in hot weather. If you want to make it winter-ready you can add rubbing alcohol to the mixture.
While homemade wiper fluid is a feasible alternative, it’s important to remember that it isn’t specifically designed for the vehicle like commercial products are. Your homemade mixture might damage the tank and the lines over time.
The type of windshield wiper fluid that you choose will depend on your priorities. Whether you want something nontoxic or a powerful antifreeze, the choice that you make does matter.