Check Windshield Wiper Fluid

Windshield wiper fluid, or windshield washer fluid, helps your windshield wipers remove dirt and grime from the windshield. Mostly water, washer fluid usually includes ammonia to enhance its cleaning ability, alcohol to prevent streaking and to keep ice from forming in the washer nozzles. When driving under dusty or slushy conditions, you may have to use your wipers frequently, making it necessary to check the windshield wiper fluid level.


  1. Park your car. Ideally, you should do so on a level surface to help the engine bay cool. Wait for a few minutes, until the car hood is cool enough to rest your hand on.[1]
  2. Open the hood.[2]
  3. Look for the washer fluid reservoir. On most cars, the washer fluid reservoir is located at the back of the engine bay, near the base of the windshield. The tank is usually translucent, allowing you to see whether there is fluid in the reservoir or not.
  4. Check the wiper fluid level. Many washer fluid reservoirs have marks to show the fluid level. If the tank is less than half-full, you'll need to refill it.[3]
    • Also, check the tank for cracks or leaks.
  5. Uncap the washer fluid reservoir. The reservoir cap usually is designed to screw on and off.
  6. Add washer fluid until the reservoir fluid level reaches the "full" mark. You may want to use a funnel to avoid spills. Once you've refilled the tank, replace the cap and close the hood.[4]
  7. Turn the car key to the "on" or "accessory" position. This will let you test the washers' performance by turning on your windshield wipers and then the washers. The washers should deliver a steady stream of fluid; if not, you may have to clean the washer nozzles and lines.



  • Use only the kind of washer fluid recommended in your owner's manual. In a pinch, you can use ordinary water as washer fluid; however, it may allow ice to form in the fluid reservoir, nozzles or lines in wintertime.


  • Keep washer fluid out of the reach of pets and small children, particularly if it contains antifreeze. Most antifreeze is made with ethylene glycol, which tastes sweet but is poisonous.

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle of washer fluid
  • Funnel (optional)
  • Rag or paper towel (to wipe up spills)