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#3255104 - 01/21/14 01:23 PM The cheap windshield washer fluids
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13111
Loc: Chicago, IL
After my minor fiasco with the car having fluid only good to +32 F (California car where anything else is illegal), I hastily went to AutoZone and bought a gallon of the pre-mixed store-brand washer fluid. It claimed to be good to -20 F.

I have to call [censored] on it, truthfully. It was about +20 F last night and every time I sprayed it on the window, it would crystallize and ice up with 2 or 3 seconds, making it totally worthless. Mind you this is with heated washer nozzles.

Promptly went out and bought two jugs of purple Splash!-brand -35 F stuff and put it in. Low-and-behold, it did not crystallize or freeze up at all. I'm really questioning if those cheap fluids meet the advertised specs.

Anyone else have similar experiences with cheap fluids?
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#3255111 - 01/21/14 01:27 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 11644
Loc: NE,Ohio
did it freeze while parked or moving?

you have an effect similar to windchill on liquids in the winter.


I totally agree though usually -20 is good to about 25F

if its going to be below that you need at least -25+ for use while moving.

or you can just look at the % of alcohol. you want 30-35%+

once you get it spread out in a layer 1/1000's of an inch thick by the wipers it doesnt take much evap.. to freeze it up.




Also the alcohol will evap faster leaving .. yep water on your windshield to freeze.
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#3255114 - 01/21/14 01:28 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Kira Offline


Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 3583
Loc: Champlain/Hudson Valley
Hello, I have always thrown in a bottle of isopropyl alcohol into my blue washer fluid when the weather goes cold. I like the smell too.

What burns is that we can't buy 100% methyl alcohol and make what we need. Delivering all those gallon jugs to stores all over creation is a good thing for John Q. Public I suppose. Kira

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#3255116 - 01/21/14 01:28 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
ronbo Offline


Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 800
Loc: western ny, usa
Live in New York and buy the cheap blue fluid and no problems. That said I don't use the washer fluid much in winter or summer. In winter I have an unlimited car wash package for $25 a month and get a car wash every second day, weather permitting. In summer wash the windows as needed.

In the future will buy the better stuff with Rain-X in it or yellow Prestone.


Edited by ronbo (01/21/14 01:30 PM)

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#3255119 - 01/21/14 01:30 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
addyguy Offline


Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 14067
Loc: Canada
Up here in the winter, 'basic' blue washer fluid is rated to -35C, and 'premium' stuff is rated from -40C to -49C.

I've noticed a major difference in how little the -40C and below fluids ice over when they are used below -20C. The -35C stuff always leaves a glaze of ice, but the premium stuff barely does, and it goes away quicker.

I've switched to using premium stuff I buy on sale.
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#3255123 - 01/21/14 01:32 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
silverrat Offline


Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 1521
Loc: Ontario
I only use RainX De-icer rated -45c
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#3255124 - 01/21/14 01:32 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: Rand]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13111
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: Rand
did it freeze while parked or moving?

you have an effect similar to windchill on liquids in the winter.



Both. Went to wash the window before I drove out of the garage and the whole windshield was covered in crystals by the time I exited the garage.
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#3255125 - 01/21/14 01:32 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
renegade_987 Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1554
Loc: Ankeny, IA
I've got SuperTech winter formula in mine. No freezing at -6 this morning.
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#3255128 - 01/21/14 01:34 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 11644
Loc: NE,Ohio
Originally Posted By: dparm
Originally Posted By: Rand
did it freeze while parked or moving?

you have an effect similar to windchill on liquids in the winter.



Both. Went to wash the window before I drove out of the garage and the whole windshield was covered in crystals by the time I exited the garage.


yea I edited my post to make it more booklike.,

basically its due to the small amount of alcohol in the cheap stuff.. combined with the fact that it evaps faster than the water.. leaving water to refreeze on your window.


this link is also fairly correct
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-dri...article6191127/


Edited by Rand (01/21/14 01:38 PM)
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#3255136 - 01/21/14 01:40 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Wilhelm_D Offline


Registered: 01/28/09
Posts: 818
Loc: Tacoma, WA
Originally Posted By: dparm
Anyone else have similar experiences with cheap fluids?

Your experience is SOP.

Alcohol is expensive, water is cheap.

I mix any store bought washer fluid 3 parts fluid to one part denatured alcohol. That eliminates any problems and also makes it more effective in clearing road film.

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#3255140 - 01/21/14 01:43 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: Rand]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13111
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: Rand




Sounds reasonable. I've noticed it's less of a problem after I've been driving for 15-20 minutes and the interior of the car is warm AND the washer nozzles are hot.
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#3255143 - 01/21/14 01:44 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Ramblejam Offline


Registered: 11/05/13
Posts: 3139
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: dparm
Anyone else have similar experiences with cheap fluids?


Yep, years ago with the cheap blue stuff...had it ice up going down the road.

Switched over to the yellow Prestone fluid (along with their summer counterpart) and I've never had an issue since. Sure, it's more expensive, but it's an incredibly small price to pay for what it delivers (clear, unobstructed vision).


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#3255150 - 01/21/14 01:49 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 18723
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By: dparm
After my minor fiasco with the car having fluid only good to +32 F (California car where anything else is illegal), I hastily went to AutoZone and bought a gallon of the pre-mixed store-brand washer fluid. It claimed to be good to -20 F.

I have to call [censored] on it, truthfully. It was about +20 F last night and every time I sprayed it on the window, it would crystallize and ice up with 2 or 3 seconds, making it totally worthless. Mind you this is with heated washer nozzles.

Promptly went out and bought two jugs of purple Splash!-brand -35 F stuff and put it in. Low-and-behold, it did not crystallize or freeze up at all. I'm really questioning if those cheap fluids meet the advertised specs.

Anyone else have similar experiences with cheap fluids?


I will say this much about the cheap WW fluid, its cheap and its blue.

I use one of the de-icer products year round.
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#3255154 - 01/21/14 01:51 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
hattaresguy Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 7180
Loc: CT
I've never had a problem with the cheap blue stuff.

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#3255158 - 01/21/14 01:58 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: hattaresguy]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 18723
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
I've never had a problem with the cheap blue stuff.


Where does your car stay overnight?
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#3255170 - 01/21/14 02:08 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
IndyIan Offline


Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 8088
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: dparm
Originally Posted By: Rand




Sounds reasonable. I've noticed it's less of a problem after I've been driving for 15-20 minutes and the interior of the car is warm AND the washer nozzles are hot.

I think heated nozzles are just to thaw the nozzle as the odd time they freeze up after the car has been sitting as the alcohol evaporates out the line. They might even make the alcohol evaporation problem worse on a very cold day.
Any washer fluid hitting a freezing windshield will leave an ice film in my experience. On my deserted sideroad, 30 seconds at 40mph looking through a clear spot will sublimate all the ice and leave a clear windshield. Maybe not a good idea in a urban drive. Then a few minutes of driving will have the whole windshield above freezing and I can spray all I want with out any freezing. Also I will clean my window when I park the car so I don't have to deal with dirt on a cold windshield. Most days after a quick scrape for frost I don't need to spray any fluid at all until the windshield is up to temp.
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#3255181 - 01/21/14 02:18 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
99Saturn Offline


Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1403
Loc: NY
I can't remember the last time I have had an issue with the cheap blue stuff - I just use the -20F year round now. 13F right now and no issues on the trip home, it's full of "Super Clean" or something like that from Kmart - saw the same bottles at AAP last week.

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#3255197 - 01/21/14 02:32 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Rolla07 Offline


Registered: 11/05/11
Posts: 3669
Loc: MTL, CANADA
I like using rain x in all seasons except winter..i use cheap blue stuff in winter.
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#3255198 - 01/21/14 02:32 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Deltona_Dave Offline


Registered: 02/01/10
Posts: 800
Loc: Deltona, FL USA
Here in Central Fl, I just use the Green Rain X bug wash. Works good in the "freezing 28 degrees" that we see for 12 hours a month in January. I use it as it gets the bug guts off the windscreen and helps water bead off, so I don't have to use the wipers as much.

D.
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#3255214 - 01/21/14 02:51 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: Deltona_Dave]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13111
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: Deltona_Dave
Here in Central Fl, I just use the Green Rain X bug wash. Works good in the "freezing 28 degrees" that we see for 12 hours a month in January. I use it as it gets the bug guts off the windscreen and helps water bead off, so I don't have to use the wipers as much.

D.


Okay, but as I had previously mentioned, it gets way colder than that where I live.
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#3255224 - 01/21/14 02:58 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
mrsilv04 Offline


Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 7866
Loc: Illinois
I'm south of I-80, and I've used nothing but the -20 degree blue stuff (from either W*M or Menards) for several years now.

Two things:

1) I use the -20 stuff year around.
2) I always keep it tightly capped.

No problems here with the blue. I used to buy the -35 purple stuff, but that was years back.

Is is possible that you're still seeing residual effects of the +32 stuff?
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#3255254 - 01/21/14 03:37 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
JDW Offline


Registered: 01/08/14
Posts: 665
Loc: South
I mix mine myself, 50/50

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#3255255 - 01/21/14 03:38 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: hattaresguy]
SLCraig Offline


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 5627
Loc: London, ON, Canada
Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
I've never had a problem with the cheap blue stuff.


I use either the cheap blue stuff or sometimes Rain-X and I can get liquid to my windshield in the coldest of temps with either one. It was -25C recently too.
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#3255258 - 01/21/14 03:39 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: mrsilv04]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13111
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: mrsilv04

Is is possible that you're still seeing residual effects of the +32 stuff?



Doubtful -- I ran the reservoir dry before filling with the -20.
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#3255264 - 01/21/14 03:48 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
itguy08 Offline


Registered: 09/15/11
Posts: 2772
Loc: Somewhere
I typically use Rain-X winter in the winter and summer in the summer. It seems to do a good job and not freeze. I hate having a dirty windshield so I use the stuff quite regularly in the winter.

I have had the blue stuff do the ice up routine too. You could also try the Prestone deicer - that should help too.

The only stuff I don't like is whatever the Ford dealer was using last year - it smelled awful as it dried. Solved that by keeping the resivour full. smile

I'm still waiting for someone to do an actual scented washer fluid.

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#3255268 - 01/21/14 03:50 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: itguy08]
Ramblejam Offline


Registered: 11/05/13
Posts: 3139
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: itguy08
I'm still waiting for someone to do an actual scented washer fluid.


The Prestone washer fluid (summer) has a citrus scent.

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#3255295 - 01/21/14 04:14 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
DemoFly Offline


Registered: 06/03/12
Posts: 969
Loc: Bremerton, WA
Walmart supertech windshield washer fluid is good stuff.

Cleans great, beads the water up and makes it run off the window just like rain-x.

In fact, I purchased rain-x after using supertech and I couldn't tell a difference except for color.
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#3255322 - 01/21/14 04:53 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
fdcg27 Offline


Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 13714
Loc: OH
I use the winter blends of either Prestone or Rain-X in our cars over the winter.
These never seem to freeze and I'll even use the washers to clear frost and ice from the windshield, although I will brush off more than a trace of snow.
Lazy, I know.
You can buy either on clearance each spring for cheap.
I'm going to try adding drug store alcohol to the cheap blue stuff just to see how that works. I'm sure that I have some in the garage.
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#3255329 - 01/21/14 05:00 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Corvette Owner Offline


Registered: 01/22/03
Posts: 1676
Loc: Waldorf, Maryland
I use Rain-X all seasons. It not only melts snow/frost well, but it also puts a protective coating on the windshield that keeps rain and bugs from sticking to the windshield. In a light rain the rain runs off the windshield without using wipers!


Edited by Corvette Owner (01/21/14 05:00 PM)
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#3255426 - 01/21/14 06:12 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
AMC Offline


Registered: 10/17/10
Posts: 717
Loc: South Eastern, CT
I am currently using the Peak -20 blue fluid with success. It cleans great, dries well and never freezes. I get 6 gallons of it for $10 at Bee Jay's wholesale club. I am pretty sure that price makes it "cheap".

I have also had very good luck with GM Opti-kleen washer fluid but it is expensive, $3 per Gallon
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#3255444 - 01/21/14 06:19 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
79sunrunner Offline


Registered: 02/26/13
Posts: 430
Loc: Illinois, USA
My mistake was filling up with washer fluid in Florida and returning to the deathly cold embrace of Illinois. Then the fluid froze. My mistake. I guess Florida service station never have to worry about purchasing cold weather anything.
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#3256142 - 01/22/14 11:25 AM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
threeputtpar Offline


Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 2061
Loc: Appleton, WI
I use the orange Rain-X stuff all year long without a problem.

I've seen the Splash! stuff in Menards before, and recently saw some new jugs of it that were clear instead of purple. I've never liked the idea of coloring the fluid, even though it's mainly for leak detection purposes.
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#3256277 - 01/22/14 01:09 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
mclasser Offline


Registered: 04/13/13
Posts: 1828
Loc: The Right Coast
I've only used the cheap blue stuff for as long as I can remember. Just make sure to pick up the -20 degree blend in the winter and you're golden.
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#3256305 - 01/22/14 01:35 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: Donald]
hattaresguy Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 7180
Loc: CT
Originally Posted By: Donald
Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
I've never had a problem with the cheap blue stuff.


Where does your car stay overnight?


In my driveway, this morning it was 1.


Edited by hattaresguy (01/22/14 01:37 PM)

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#3256327 - 01/22/14 01:51 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
jeepman3071 Offline


Registered: 04/15/10
Posts: 2974
Loc: Storrs, Connecticut
Bought the cheap blue stuff from AutoZone. It froze as soon as it hit the windshield, and I wasn't even moving. Looks like I will be picking up some Prestone or Rain-X.
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#3256358 - 01/22/14 02:14 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Kestas Offline



Registered: 06/04/02
Posts: 11735
Loc: The Motor City
Owners' manuals mention not to use washer fluid on a cold windshield. The windshield must be defrosted for the fluid to work.

If there is any question on the efficacy of the fluid you have in stock, put a small sample in your freezer and leave it overnight. Your freezer should be calibrated to 0F.

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#3257446 - 01/23/14 12:54 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
buck91 Offline


Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 2152
Loc: West Michigan
Typically I use the rain-x combo driver/bug remover with good results- never had an issue with it icing up though sometimes the bug remover could be improved. Recently had some good experiences with the purple "splash" brand cleaning well but I do not like how the Preston's deicer fluid leaves streaks and smears.
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#3257726 - 01/23/14 04:55 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: Kestas]
Wilhelm_D Offline


Registered: 01/28/09
Posts: 818
Loc: Tacoma, WA
Originally Posted By: Kestas
Owners' manuals mention not to use washer fluid on a cold windshield. The windshield must be defrosted for the fluid to work.


That really depends. I am on travel in the Midwest with 0 F temperatures and have had no problem at all with cold windshields. I use three parts washer fluid to one part denatured alcohol. A side benefit is that it is murder on road film on the windshield.

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#3258357 - 01/24/14 08:40 AM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Bamaro Offline


Registered: 08/03/03
Posts: 1391
Loc: Balto.
Also, the alcohol in the blue stuff will evaporate from your bottle and from the fluid reservoir faster than the water over time and decrease its effectiveness.
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#3258814 - 01/24/14 04:29 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 31035
Loc: ME
Just found some slushy "Splash" brand in my garage. Don't remember where I got it. (I stash lots and lots of it from spring clearance sales.)

8% VOC, good to +22'F. Crikey! What's the point? mad

The good news is it's six degrees now at sunset and was below zero this morning. It didn't explode its container, just got slushy. Won't work, but won't break stuff.

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#3258978 - 01/24/14 07:41 PM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
Shaman Offline


Registered: 07/27/04
Posts: 2335
Loc: Frankfort, Kentucky
I've wondered what adding antifreeze to the mix would do, pick up some of the cheap RV antifreeze at walmart and mix it up.

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#3262579 - 01/28/14 11:53 AM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
cp3 Offline


Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 2645
Loc: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Petro-Canada is all I've been putting in the cars for the last couple years. Works very well but it isn't cheap.
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#3263524 - 01/29/14 08:36 AM Re: The cheap windshield washer fluids [Re: dparm]
TiredTrucker Offline


Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 3119
Loc: Central Iowa
In my commercial trucks, the only thing that has stood the test has been the Prestone deicer windshield washer fluid. Any of the other products have frozen in the spray nozzles on the wiper blades. I don't need a problem, herding 80,000 lb of truck thru traffic and not being able to see with all that slush and salt being thrown all over the place. The Prestone is definitely more expensive, but compared to what? Taking out a van full of kids because I couldn't see them?
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