How to Check Your Windshield Wiper Fluid Level

Windshield wiper fluid is stored under the hood and the windshield wiper fluid light will illuminate when the reservoir is low or empty.

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If you’ve ever had a dirty windshield and tried to spray wiper fluid to clean it, only to find there is no wiper fluid available, you know the frustration that comes with an empty reservoir. A dirty or streaked windshield is also a driving hazard as visibility can be reduced and the your focus can be distracted. Checking and adding windshield wiper fluid can be as easy as refilling your car with gas, and it won’t take up any more time at a fraction of the cost. In this article, Step 1 tells you how to check if the wiper fluid is low, Step 2 shows you how to find your wiper fluid reservoir, Step 3 suggests organizing your supplies, and Step 4 describes how to fill the reservoir.

Part 1 of 1: Why you should check your windshield wiper fluid level

Materials Needed

  • Funnel
  • Gallon jug of windshield wiper fluid

Step 1: Determine if your car’s windshield wiper fluid is low. Different car manufacturers build their products using varied designs so the way you’ll check windshield wiper fluid levels will depend on the type of car you drive.

Some cars have a low level light that will illuminate within the gauge cluster while other cars will have a clearly visible reservoir under the hood where you can see the levels.

Regardless of how your car is set up, the most obvious way to tell if your windshield wiper fluid is low is to engage the sprayers. If nothing comes out, it’s time to refill.

Step 2: Locate your car’s windshield wiper fluid reservoir. Knowledge is power, so break out your owner’s manual and turn to the maintenance section to find the exact location of your windshield wiper fluid reservoir. This is going to be located under the hood and will typically be close to a left or right fender.

For many cars, the reservoir is tucked underneath the fender itself, but the filler neck should be easy to spot. Look for a plastic cap with the famous windshield wiper fluid “light” symbol: a windshield with a “fountain.”

Step 3: Organize your supplies. Gather your supplies. You can buy fluid at any autoparts store, most gas stations, and even certain department stores. You get what you pay for with car fluids, with the more expensive fluid offering more cleaning power.

Some brands will tout de-icing properties, which is a worthy investment if you live in northern climates. Color choice is irrelevant, so don’t worry about buying blue fluid one day and orange fluid the next. A funnel will be a helpful tool as well to avoid spilling.

Step 4: Fill the windshield wiper reservoir. Pop the reservoir cap open, place the funnel inside and begin filling it with fluid.

Some cars have a clearly visible “fill” line while others don’t. For those in particular, simply fill the reservoir until you can see fluid stagnate in the filler neck.

Owning a car is one of the most rewarding responsibilities you can have, and there are plenty of DIY maintenance items that anyone can accomplish. For cars that have a windshield wiper fluid light, paying attention to this is a good indication of fluid levels - if the light goes off, then you have an acceptable amount of fluid in the reservoir.

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