Your car is equipped with a system to clean your windshield if it is dirty, called the windshield washer system. Your windshield washer system includes:

  • Windshield washer fluid reservoir
  • Washer fluid pump
  • Hoses to disperse the fluid
  • Windshield washer nozzles
  • Windshield wiper system

The purpose of washer fluid

While the washer fluid is in the reservoir to be used as it's needed, the fluid also performs another function in the reservoir. The washer fluid is a lubricant for the parts contained, including the washer fluid pump and the hoses. If there is no washer fluid in the fluid reservoir, internal parts of the pump can corrode and the plastic parts can degrade. If the washer fluid pump can’t pump with the same force or if the rubber lines dry and crack from the inside, the washer fluid system may leak, stop working effectively, or stop working completely.

Running the washer fluid pump when there is no fluid in the tank causes extra stress on the pump and will wear it out extremely quickly. If you know you are out of washer fluid, take care not to activate the windshield washers.

Most importantly, if there is no washer fluid in the windshield washer fluid reservoir, you will be unable to clean your windshield if it gets dirty. This can present a huge safety problem if you are driving in conditions where you could get mud or dirt on your windshield. The wiper blades will only smear the mud if you are unable to apply washer fluid to the glass.

Make sure to keep washer fluid in the fluid reservoir at all times.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is It Important to Keep Liquid in the Windshield Washer Reservoir? and was authored by Jason Unrau.


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