How to Add Windshield Washer Fluid

You come out to the car in the morning, get inside and start it up,  and it looks like a dust storm has settled on your windshield. Or something on the road ahead of you splatters onto it.  Or the world’s largest bird seems to have graced your windshield with a gift.

You pull the lever to wash the windshield, and you can hear the pump whine, and can see the wiper blades smearing back and forth, but there’s no fluid – it’s like squirting the Sahara. 

Replacing the windshield washer fluid in your car isn’t hard, takes ten minutes and less than five bucks, and saves you so much hassle.  Here’s how you do it.

Get Windshield Washer Fluid

First, and this is the hardest part, visit an auto parts store – O’Reilly, AutoZone, Pep Boys – it doesn’t matter which. Buy a gallon of windshield washer fluid. There will be several different manufacturers – go with one that seems like a good mix of features and economy. It shouldn’t cost more than five bucks.

Open the Hood

Pop open the hood on your car. If you’re new to that, check out How to Check Your Oil – there’s a good description of it in there.

Now take a look for the windshield washer reservoir. It’s a white plastic jug-like thing with a long neck, and usually it’s towards the back on the passenger side of the car. You’ll know it because it has a plastic cap with the squirting fluid icon on it.  If the car’s been around a while, it may slightly stained blue. It’s pretty easy to identify. It’s usually the only bottle with a snap-off cap: everything else twists off.

However, if you can’t find it, or if you think you’ve found it but are not certain, don’t add any fluid to it – get someone to help you. Make sure you’ve found the right reservoir – you don’t want to add windshield washer fluid to your brake system, your steering system, your radiator, or to the engine oil!

Add the Washer Fluid

Snap open the plastic cap, open the jug of fluid, and pour it in. You can pour it straight from the jug, or you can roll some paper into a funnel shape, put that into the reservoir, and pour the fluid down that. Some cars have a really long filler neck for the reservoir, so it will seem to take forever for it fill, and then it will suddenly top right up. Fill it up to about an inch below the top of the tube, and then snap the cap back on.

Lift the hood slightly so that you can put the support rod back into its little clip – make sure the support rod clips into place so that it doesn’t rattle, and close the hood.

The hood may not lock down the first time you close it. Push it down in the center-front until you hear it click into the latch. If that doesn’t work, open the hood again, raise it about a foot, and then just drop it. That will latch it into place. Don’t drive the car without the hood latched down tightly.

Oh, and, in a pinch, you can just add simple water to the windshield washer fluid reservoir. Try not to, and, if you must, don’t add just plain tap water. Bottled water has fewer minerals in it, so you reduce the risk of plugging up the squirters. If you do that, make sure to add the correct fluid as soon as you can.

That’s it! You added windshield washer fluid to you car – you did it! Congratulations!

Please Note: Do not use this procedure if you are not certain that you can complete it safely, or if it does not seem accurate. Skippity Whistles provides this information as advice, and cannot accept any liability from your usage of it.


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Published by John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

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