If you're wondering, “can I use water instead of windshield wiper fluid?” The short answer is no. This is because you're going to deal with the following consequences:
- You won't achieve the best windshield cleaning
- Relying on water only might impact your visibility and safety
- Water is not effective for extreme temperatures
- You might cause damages so the reservoir and the internal connections
Your vehicle's wiper fluid is very essential, especially if you drive in areas with tons of dust in the environment. Also, if you left your car in a location with many birds who might leave some dirt on their vehicle’s windshield, that's another situation to keep up with your windshield wiper fluid.
Checking the windshield wiper fluid is part of your regular maintenance that you never want to miss. However, maintaining the windshield wiper fluid becomes critical if you need it. In other words, if you didn't check on the windshield wiper fluid for a long time because you did not engage it, it can be very dangerous to run out of it when it's critical and when there is a thick layer of film on top of the windshield.
One of the easiest ways that many people think of is to add water instead of windshield wiper fluid as a quick alternative. However, before you do so, you should ask yourself, “can I use water instead of windshield wiper fluid?”
This article will provide you with all you need to know about what could happen if you used water instead of windshield wiper fluid. Furthermore, it will provide you with additional details to help you find better alternatives than water when you run out of windshield wiper fluid.
What is the windshield wiper fluid made of?
Before we dig into the details about the question, “can I use water instead of windshield wiper fluid?” First, it is essential to get a general understanding of what does the windshield wiper fluid contains. Will it be OK only to use water? Or are there other components that you should consider, and you cannot run the windshield wiper without them?
The windshield wiper fluid is not water; instead, it is methanol. Typically this methanol is not safe, and it's considered one of the toxic chemicals. In fact, the methanol toxicity makes it one of the very poisonous alcohol.
The windshield wiper fluid is designed to allow it to clean the windshield effectively way better than long. Furthermore, it contains certain chemicals that prevent it from freezing even if you get as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. In addition, some specific types of windshield wipers are designed for even colder degrees which means you don't have to worry about frozen windshield wiper fluid, even if you drive in the coldest environments in the United States.
Can I use water instead of windshield wiper fluid?
As we mentioned earlier, the windshield wiper fluid is designed from a specific formula. It is designed precisely to do the job effectively without causing any issues and without dealing with extreme temperatures issues.
However, can water be a good replacement for windshield wiper fluid? Well, the short answer is no. There are many things to consider if using water instead of the windshield wiper fluid:
1. Water is not as effective as the windshield wiper fluid
The windshield wiper fluid contains specific chemicals to clean the windshield in no time and just a couple of wipes. However, if you only rely on water, it wouldn't do the job, and there will be a lot of residual and contaminants on the windshield, making your visibility harder.
2. Using only water might impact your safety
If you only rely on water and this water does not do the job by cleaning the windshield, you will impact your safety and easily get into dangerous situations without paying attention. This becomes extremely dangerous if you drive in foggy areas or contain a lot of dust in the air.
3. Water does not support extreme temperatures
One of the most important benefits of using windshield wiper fluid instead of water is dealing with extreme temperatures. As you already know, water has a freezing and boiling point, which means that if the water is extremely hot or extremely cold outside, the windshield wiper fluid might not work as effectively as you're looking for.
For example, if the temperature outside is very hot, there is a high chance that this water might evaporate immediately after you spray it on the windshield. Similarly, if you use only water during very cold temperatures, there is a very high chance that this water might freeze in the reservoir or the pathways.
4. Water might damage the internal reservoir and connections
Since we mentioned that water has a huge limitation When dealing with temperature if water flows are inside the connections. Inside the reservoir, you will deal with a more complicated problem where water might shrink or expand, causing cracks and other damage to the connections.
Of course, fixing these connection damages can be pricey, and it's way beyond what you're going to pay for using windshield wiper fluid or having a spare bottle in your vehicle for cases of emergencies. Therefore, you should think twice before using water instead of windshield wiper fluid.
What can you use instead of a windshield wiper fluid?
Emergencies happen without any preparations, and you might get to a point where you ran out of windshield wiper fluid without any sources to purchase a new one. Therefore, one of the very common questions that we continuously receive is what are the other better alternatives than water when we run out of windshield wiper fluids?
Let's take a look at some of the simple recipes for windshield wiper fluid alternatives:
1. Windows cleaner
If you find yourself running out of windshield wiper fluid, you can try using simple household products. For example, you can mix one part of the windows cleaner and three parts of water and add a couple of drops of dishwashing soap. The mixture should be good enough to cover you for some time to clean the windshield. However, you should not rely on this recipe permanently because you'd better use what's your vehicle is designed to expect.
Another simple recipe includes using vinegar which is a great product for many purposes in your household and your vehicle. For example, you can apply three parts of water to one part of vinegar and use it to clean the windshield. However, some customers saw that any colored vinegar might leave some residue on your windshield, which means it will provide you with the opposite results to what you're looking for.
3. Dish soap and ammonia mixture
You can also try a mixture of dish soap and ammonia to create a solution that is helpful to clean your vehicle's windshield. For example, some drivers found it very successful in combining half a cup of free ammonia and combining it with water and dishwashing soap. The mixture should be effective to clean your windshield temporarily until you get to a location where you can purchase the regular windshield wiper fluid.
4. Rubbing alcohol and castile soap
Some people found that mixing castile soap is much more effective because it's made of natural products and cleans your vehicle's windshield. Therefore, you might want to try and mix a gallon of distilled water with 8 ounces of rubbing alcohol and then add the castile soap.
Is driving without screenwash illegal?
Many of us think it's optional to have the windshield wiper fluid filled. However, did you know that you can get into legal situations because of an empty windshield wiper fluid reservoir?!
Yes! In reality, it's hard for you to get caught with an empty windshield wiper fluid reservoir. However, if you got involved in a car accident and your police confirmed that you have issues with visibility due to an uncleaned windshield, that could put you in trouble.
Therefore, not only to protect your safety but also to protect the safety of other people, you should maintain your vehicle's windshield wiper fluid. The fluid is not very expensive, and topping it off will not take much time. You don't have to go to a professional service or pay for labor costs because it's something you can do on your own; locate the windshield reservoir opening and add what's needed.
We highly encourage you to check with your vehicle's owner's manual to know what type of windshield wiper fluid your vehicle accepts. There are different types depending on the quality, and you don't want to go with a lower quality fluid that could cause issues to your vehicle system.
What are the best windshield wiper fluids in 2022?
If you would like to keep up with your vehicle's windshield wiper fluid, we highly encourage you to check on some better alternatives. The market is filled with examples that provide you with windshield wiper fluids containing additives to provide you with the best results in no time.
Before you make a final purchase decision, you must review the main pros and cons of the available windshield wiper fluids because some of them might provide you with the benefits you need while others might not be as good as you're looking for. Also, the price can be a big factor in which Windshield wiper fluid to choose.
If you are planning to upgrade your windshield wiper fluid, you should consider these 10 best windshield washer fluids for your car as of 2022:
- Prestone All-Season 3-in-1 Windshield Washer Fluid
- Prestone De-icer Windshield Washer Fluid
- Prestone Bug Wash Windshield Washer Fluid
- Rain-X 2 Pack 2-in-1 All Season (-25F) Washer Fluid
- Nextzett Kristall Klar Washer Fluid
- Aqua Charge Windshield Washer Ultra Concentrate
- CAF Outdoor Cleaning SEMPER Quick Dissolve Windshield Cleaner Mix
- GUNK Concentrated Windshield Washer Solvent
- Wemk Windshield Washer Tablets
- McKee’s 37 Anti-Frost Windshield Washer Fluid
Is water a good alternative for windshield wiper fluid? Final thoughts
This article provided you with all the details you need to know about whether windshield wiper fluid can be replaced with water.
As we have added before, water cannot be a good alternative for windshield wiper fluid because it doesn't clean as effectively as the wiper fluid, it's not suitable for extreme temperatures, it might impact our visibility, and you might deal with internal damages in your system that could cost you a lot of money.
Therefore, it is recommended that you take the windshield wiper fluid seriously and never underestimate it because of the potential negative consequences when using water only. In addition, keep in mind that you should keep up with your vehicle rental maintenance no matter what and no matter how simple it looks to you because it can easily lead to major complications.
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