Every vehicle uses that brightly colored fluid called windshield wiper fluid. Even the best windshield wipers need a season-appropriate fluid to help keep the windshield clean.
There are different formulas of windshield wiper fluid, the basic difference being season-specific. Let’s take winter for example. Winter fluid solutions are usually bright blue and specifically designed to withstand colder temperatures and not freeze as soon as it hits the windshield. Instead, this particular fluid is supposed to help melt frost, light snow, and light ice to help clear your windshield faster in the winter.
All windshield washer fluid contains a base ingredient called methanol, which is a type of alcohol. It has a low freeze point, making it a good base ingredient in this fluid to keep it from freezing year-round. The winter formulas, which may be called “de-icer,” may have either antifreeze or ethanol added to allow it to remain liquid at lower temperatures. Or, the methanol content may simply be higher to give it a lower freezing point.
Another formula popular in warmer months is the ones labeled as some type of “bug removal” washer fluid. These typically come in green and have not contain antifreeze or ethanol, and have a lower content of methanol. It instead maintains a detergent ratio great for effectively removing bug debris from windshields. It may also contain an ingredient to help rain bead on the windshield, improving visibility during rain driving.
Then there is the “all-season” windshield washer fluid, usually an orange color. You will find the bug-gut-removing power with some de-icing capabilities, although the all-season may not have the capacity to withstand as cold of temperatures as the de-icer.
All of the wiper fluid solutions contain the same basic ingredients, just at different concentrations depending on specifications of the solution. Water makes up a large component of the solutions, which is why most come in gallon jugs with no need to dilute.
An additive to windshield washer fluids called Denatonium (or Bitrex) is an intensely bitter chemical added to deter children from drinking the liquid. The brightly colored washer fluid may attract some children, but one taste with this additive is all it takes to send them running. Due to the highly poisonous nature of methanol, ingestion of even a small amount is an immediately serious situation, so this deterrent helps make it safer.
While the basic structure of windshield wiper fluid is the same, slight variations in ingredient concentrations, or addition of small amounts of other ingredients give it varied functions specific to seasons or other needs. These brightly colored fluids are essential in keeping windshields clean for safer driving.