Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Windshield washer fluid
I also thought I'd pass along a minor tech tip, particularly for those like me who live in warm climates but occasionally have to deal with ice. Windshield washer fluid comes in many freezing points. While out shopping today, I found some rated for 32 degrees F, some for 22, and some for -20. (For those who prefer Celsius, that's 0, -6, and -29 degrees, respectively.) The lower freezing point doesn't just keep it from freezing in the winter, though - it helps melt the ice off your windshield. The lower the freezing point, the less washer fluid it takes to completely melt the ice. Some of the summer washer fluids will hardly melt ice at all.
Now that I've heard some of the newer Buicks have heated windshield washer systems, I'm starting to wonder what it would take to retrofit such a system onto a car that never had it. I suspect it might be pretty easy... at least compared to my current projects!
That said, I did experiment with a crude homemade system on a '91 ex-police Caprice I owned (not briefly enough to prevent having to buy a transmission!). I spliced in some extra screenwasher hose between the reservoir and the wye fitting, and wrapped a couple turns of it around the upper radiator hose. No overtape or any other insulation.
It didn't work. When the engine was cold, there was no difference. When the engine was hot, it overheated the fluid, which sputtered out of the screenwasher nozzles as a more-or-less 50/50 mix of liquid and vapour. I reversed the modification rather than futz with different fluid formulations.
In any event, Here's a thread on the topic with a bunch of suggestions for sources and homemaking.
If you want high-dollar, go get a Webasto BlueHeat for four-figure money. (Maybe not. Here's their screenwasher heater.
Final comment: I was initially sceptical, but Rain-X screenwasher fluid is an immense improvement over the regular blue stuff.
I've been thinking that the best way to do this would be to use electric heating. Water heating seems less useful - by the time it reaches operating temperature, I'd already have a working defroster.
And thanks to your warning, I'll be sure to add a shutoff before it gets too hot.
A lot probably depends on the individual piece of glass and its mounting rubber.