How to unfreeze windshield washer fluid

Why does the windshield washer fluid freeze?

There would be plenty of reasons: you forgot the change the summer windshield fluid, you ignored the good advice or maybe you put a fake winter windshield fluid in the tank. We already know them. On the label, it says, “resists to x degrees”, but it’s actually the hard as a rock in the reservoir.

Every winter we wash our car windshields with a special cleaning fluid, which is different from the one used in other seasons of the year. We have a lot of such products on the local market and some correspond to what is written on the label, and some do not.

It can, therefore, happen that the purchased liquid is of poor quality and freezes both on the surface of the windshield and in the special tank or washer.

What to do done in the last case to avoid a malfunction at the pump that deals with the splash or any crack in the tank? Here are some useful tips.

Before we start, here is an important piece of advice:

Stop trying to wash the windshield! You will force the pump or the washer and you risk spending good money for repairs. 

Don’t even think about removing the tank to heat it in the house. Too much headache and then you can affect the tightness of the system. There is no point in even driving a car because the windshield washer reservoir will not thaw from the engine heat. Furthermore, you may not be able to remove the tank cap because of the rod stuck in the ice.

How to deal with a frozen windshield washer fluid?

The easiest solution is to find an underground car park or garage, preferably heated. Preheat the engine, bring it to optimum operating temperature, and then leave the car in the parking lot or garage for a few hours.

The more the better. Ideally, it would be best to let your car from morning to evening, especially if it is very cold outside. You only care about the cost of parking or not if you have a garage. Take a serious winter windshield fluid with you. Before leaving, drain all the liquid from the tank and put the new one. If you don’t have any underground parking nearby, ask a friend or neighbor to let you use his garage.

If you do not have underground parking or a garage. Do not despair! There are other solutions. You can fill the tank with strong alcohol and wait to act. Maybe you’re lucky and it works. When I had this problem, it didn’t work, maybe because of the extremely low temperatures outside. I also used a concentrated liquid windshield, which “withstands” very low temperatures. No result. I have also heard of the technical ethyl alcohol version, maybe that should work (90 degrees).

This is how we come to advanced solutions. You need:

  • A large vessel or a bucket
  • A funnel
  • A manual water pump (You can find it at DIY stores). You can also use a pump for water cans.
  • Hot water (not boiled)
  • Windshield fluid for winter
  • 1. Start the car or drive it before, so the engine is heated to optimum temperature. The engine heat will defrost the windshield washer pipes
  • 2. Fill the pot or bucket with hot water, remember, not boiled, because you will risk breaking the windshield washer fluid reservoir.
  • 3. Use the funnel and slowly pour the hot water into the windshield washer reservoir.
  • 4. Allow 10 minutes to pass, or until the liquid begins to thaw. You can see when it’s ready by trying to wash the windshield. If it works, empty the whole tank.
  • 5. If it still does not work, use the pump and remove all the liquid from the tank. Repeat steps 1-3.
  • 6. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with frost-resistant fluid. Wash the windshield and empty the last traces of water. You will see that a colored fluid starts to flow and not water.

The more complicated solution. You need the same things as above: hot water, bucket, funnel, water pump, two or three bottles or cans with a frost-resistant windshield washer fluid.

  • 1. Put the bottle with windshield fluid in the bucket. Make sure it is tightly closed
  • 2. Fill the bucket or pot with hot water. Allow the liquid to warm up. You can do this in a tub and you can let the hot water flow for 10 minutes.
  • 3. Go to the car. Don’t forget to take with you your bucket, funnel, pump and heated liquid.
  • 4. Put as much hot water as possible into the windshield washer reservoir. Allow it to act for about 10 minutes.
  • 5. Use the pump and pour the liquid into the vessel or bucket. See if it worked, test if you can wash the windshield. If you run out of liquid and the vessel still has not filled or, if it does not work, repeat steps 1-4.
  • 6. Empty the entire washer tank. With the pump or by operating the wiper lever. The fluid used is already compromised. Stop using it. Fill the tank with a new, frost resistant liquid.

If nothing works, go to the service. The idea is to thaw the liquid from the tank as soon as possible. This way you avoid more serious damage.

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