How to Thaw Windshield Washer Fluid

by Brad Yach
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Windshield washer fluid usually freezes when a summer blend is being used during the winter. This frozen fluid can result in a sluggish spray or complete blockage with no spray at all. There are a few options to turn the useless slush and ice back into free-flowing liquid.

Select the Correct Fluid for Your Climate

When purchasing windshield washer fluid, check the label on the container to find the fluid's operating temperatures. For example, summer blends will freeze when temperatures fall below 32 degrees — the same as pure water. A winter blend includes a special solution that allows it to stay in liquid form at below freezing temperatures. Select the windshield washer fluid that can withstand the coldest temperatures your vehicle may encounter.

Thawing Without Removing Components

The easiest way to thaw frozen windshield washer fluid is to park the vehicle in a warm garage for an extended period of time. Once the fluid has returned to a liquid state, drain it and fill the system with the proper fluid for your climate.

Thawing by Removing Components

If you don't have access to a heated garage, you can thaw the windshield washer fluid by removing the system from your vehicle. This is not an easy task and should only be attempted if you are handy with tools. Begin by disconnecting the rubber hoses from the fluid reservoir. Remove the mounting bolts and the reservoir itself. Finally, follow the rubber hoses and disconnect them from the sprayers. Once you've removed all of the components from the vehicle, take them inside your home to thaw completely.


Knowing how to prevent the fluid from freezing is more important than knowing how to thaw it. If your vehicle contains a summer blend and you don't want to drain the entire system, you can lower the freezing point with additives available at any auto parts store. These solvents are usually alcohol based and not only prevent freezing, but also melt frost and light ice. If you're not sure what temperature your fluid will freeze at, be safe and add low temperature solvents or refill the system with a winter blend before the coldest temperatures arrive.

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