If your windshield wiper fluid gets low, an indicator light will warn you. You may also have a harder time cleaning the windshield. While windshield fluid isn't essential to run the vehicle, a dirty windshield could impair vision. 

Sometimes, the seal may start leaking the longer the reservoir stays low. Changing windshield wiper fluid is straightforward for a novice. Here are tips to add windshield wiper fluid.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • shop towel
  • turkey baster
  • prop rod
  • funnel
  • replacement fluid

Ensure you buy the correct fluid for the climate. Fluid designed for warm climates may freeze in cooler climates. Fluids designed for cooler weather often are made from methyl alcohol. 

Shut off the engine, and let it cool. Park the vehicle on a flat surface.

Open the hood. Hood releases are commonly on the left of the steering column, and they may have a hood symbol. Pull the latch to you to release it, then release the safety latch. Use a prop rod to prop the hood.

Remove the Reservoir Cap

Find the windshield reservoir. The windshield reservoir is a translucent container commonly mounted on the engine bay, and it should have a wiper symbol printed on it. Don't mistake the coolant reservoir for the windshield wiper reservoir. The coolant reservoir has a hose that connects to the radiator. Look for the low and high fill lines.The fill lines will indicate if the fluid needs filling. If it is lower than half full, add fluid. 

Remove the cap by twisting it counterclockwise. The cap may have "washer fluid only" marked on it, or it may have a picture of a pair of windshield wipers on top. Set the cap aside in a clean place. Replace damaged caps.

Add the Fluid

Pour in the fluid with a funnel until it reaches the fill line. On some vehicle models, you may be able to pour fluid directly in the spout. Use a shop towel to wipe spilled fluid. 

Observe the fill line to avoid overfilling. Don't add fluid passed the fill line, since fluid could expand when it gets hot, and it may crack the reservoir. If you accidentally overfill, use a turkey baster to absorb the extra fluid. 

Wipe the reservoir cap, and screw it back on the reservoir. Lower the hood, and release it when it comes six inches above the latch to protect your hands.

Start the engine, and test the repair. Light sensors that come on when the reservoir is full indicate a faulty sensor, and wipers that won't spray may indicate clogged lines. If you don't trust your skill, or the windshield wipers still don't operate properly, take the vehicle to an auto repair service.