How Much Windshield Wiper Fluid Does A Car Hold? (Detailed Answer)

On average, a car holds about 2 to 4 liters of windshield wiper fluid. How long this liquid lasts depends mainly on use.

Failure to keep track of your windshield wiper fluid levels can put you in harm’s way. There is nothing more dreadful than the moment you try to wipe your windshield only to hear an empty whine and your wipers grinding across your windscreen. 

In this post, I’ll be providing you with expert insight to ensure your windshield wiper never lacks fluid. 

Where To Put Windshield Wiper Fluid?

windshield wiper fluid is near the windshield base, at the back of the engine bay. 

The best way to find out the location of your car windshield wiper fluid is through your car manual. However, if you cannot trace your car manual, you will need to pop up the hood of your car. 

Although the windshield wiper fluid location largely depends on the car make and model, a common sighting is near the windshield base, at the back of the engine bay. Search for a largely translucent tank that lets you gauge the amount of fluid in the reservoir. 

Can You Overfill Windshield Washer Fluid?

No, you should check your windshield wiper fluid level because if overfilling, it can cause the fluid container to crack, break or leak. When the car is in motion, the fluid expands from the engine’s heat or outside temperature, damaging the container.

The best way to reduce any excess windshield washer fluid is to suck it out with a turkey baster.

Windshield Wiper Fluid Symbol

Due to the design variations of car manufacturers, there are different ways to check the windshield fluid level in your car.

1. Most cars have a windshield wiper fluid gauge on the dashboard that turns on a low-level light whenever the washer fluid is low.

windshield wiper fluid gauge on the dashboard

2. Markings on the translucent windshield washer fluid container that tell you the exact level of the fluid in your vehicle. On such vehicles, it is advisable to ensure that the liquid in the container does not exceed the level marked “max.” That way, you can avoid overfilling your windshield fluid. 

fluid level check

3. For some cars, you will have no choice but to open the hood of your vehicle to know the exact level of your washer fluid. However, a sure-fire way to tell whether your windshield washers are working as they should is to engage the sprayers. If no liquid is released, then it is time for a refill. 

Can You Put Water In Windshield Wiper Fluid?

No, it is not advisable to just put water instead of windshield wiper fluid. Although water is a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative, it does not contain detergents and cleaning solvents that keep your windshield clean. Water also freezes at any temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Although plain water is readily available and can serve as emergency aid in temperate climates, it can damage your washer and clog it up.
This damage is caused by the deposit of minerals in your car’s washer system. The only way to prevent this is to use distilled water, which is comparatively not always available.

However, car windshield washer fluids are better suited to removing the occasional debris, dirt, bird droppings, bugs, and road grime that gather on windshields. The fluid generally contains ethylene glycol, methanol, ethanol, and antifreeze ingredients that keep the product liquid in winter. The result is a well-polished, streak-free windshield that maintains visibility regardless of the weather or road conditions. 

How To Choose The Best Windshield Washer Fluid?

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best windshield washer fluid for your needs.

First, consider the climate you live in. You’ll need a windshield washer fluid to handle freezing temperatures if you live in a cold environment and stand up to the heat in hot climates.

Second, think about the type of vehicle you drive. If you have a car with many exposed metals, you’ll want to choose a washer fluid that won’t rust or corrode the metal. Besides, bug and tar remover fluids are also suitable for vehicles constantly exposed to bugs and road debris.

Finally, consider your budget. Washer fluids come at different prices, so choose one that fits your needs.

Below are my best recommendations:

Prestone AS657 Bug Wash Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone AS657 Bug Wash Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone AS250 De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone AS250 De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone AS658 Deluxe 2-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone AS658 All Season Windshield Washer Fluid

Can You Mix Windshield Washer Fluid?

Yes but it’s not recommended! Using anything else could damage the system or leave streaks on your windshield.

If you mix different types of windshield washer fluid, it may cause a reaction. Different types of fluid can have different chemicals that can react with each other and cause problems.

If you mix windshield fluid with water, it will reduce the effectiveness of the fluid.

It’s best to use a kind of fluid to avoid any issues.

Can You Drive With Low Windshield Fluid?

Yes, you can drive with low windshield fluid. However, it is not advisable. Because it is hard to predict the exact moment you will need your wiper fluid to work, maintaining a reasonable amount of windshield fluid in your car reservoir is a must.  

If your car is equipped with low windshield wiper warning lights, watch for whenever the light comes on and refill your windshield liquid as quickly as possible. Note that merely seeing the low windshield warning lights does not necessarily mean that your windshield fluid reservoir is empty. It is a clear warning that it is time to refill. 

For cars that require opening the hood to gauge fluid level, it is advisable to regularly check your windshield fluid container to know when to refill.

How To Refill Windshield Wiper Fluid?

Step 1: Check Out Your Owners Manual

Your car owner’s manual is the go-to guide on how to use and maintain your car. Instructions on adding windshield wiper fluid will usually be in the maintenance section of the guide. It is essential to go through the manual because instructions differ from one car manufacturer and model to another.

Step 2: Open The Hood

Your windshield wiper fluid container is usually located in the hood of your car. You will have to open the hood of your car securely before commencing the refill process. The common ways to open your vehicle’s hood are an interior latch in front of the hood or a cable inside the car. Ensure your hood support struts are well positioned and working effectively to prevent the hood from falling back down when adding your windshield washing fluid.   

Step 3: Locate Your Car’s Windshield Wiper Fluid Container

Every car has a container that serves as a reservoir for your windshield wiper fluid. Despite the manufacturer’s preferences, common traits of windshield wiper fluid reservoirs are their bright-colored lid with markings on the surface and a translucent container that allows gauging the liquid level in the container. The car owner’s’ manual is always a helpful guide. If you seem to struggle, here are a few pointers:

1. Check for any container matching the description above near the right or left fender. 

2. Check for any container matching the above description underneath the fender. In that case, the filter neck should be visible, and the cover should have fluid light, windshield, and water splashing markings.

Step 4: Open The Lid

Once you have found your reservoir, it is time to open your cap. Do so by twisting the lid counterclockwise. Once opened, keep the cover in a clean and safe place, as dirty caps can adversely affect your windshield wipers. 

Step 5: Fill The Reservoir

Top up your preferred wiper fluid with a spout or funnel to prevent spills. Stop at the fill or max line. Always wipe off any accidental spills with a towel.

As explained earlier, overfilling the container with washing fluid can be dangerous, breaking your container or causing leaks. If an overfill occurs, remove any excess liquid.  

Step 6: Put on The Cap

Once you have finished refilling your car fluid, it is time to replace the cap. Twist the lid clockwise until it is tightly screwed. Next, safely return the hood down. 

Step 7: Test

Ensure that the absence of fluid is the only reason your wiper sprayers were not releasing fluid. Test them for any clogs or possible issues before hitting the road. If your wipers work as they should, then you are good to go.

Prestone AS250 De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid

Prestone 2-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid

Windshield Wiper Fluid Reservoir Replacement

You may need to buy a new windshield wiper fluid reservoir:

Dorman 603-106 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Dorman 603-106 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Dorman 603-018 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Dorman 603-018 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Dorman 603-131 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Dorman 603-131 Front Washer Fluid Reservoir

Final Thought

It is easy to underestimate the importance of your windshield wiper fluid due to its infrequent use. However, knowing how much windshield wiper fluid your car holds is crucial to safe driving. 

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