Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Can I Let the Washer Fluid Reservoir Run Dry?

asked by on

Can I let the washer fluid reservoir run dry?

It is best to keep any fluid system in your car from running dry. The washer system often sits unused, so it can be easily forgotten. When the fierce winter weather is upon us, it is easy to think of needing your washers to combat the heavy salt spray that builds up and obscures your vision, but when the weather turns nicer, it can easily slip your mind.

Since the washer pump for the wiper cleaning system uses the washer fluid as a lubricant and to cool the pump when operating, allowing the system to go empty puts the health of the pump at risk of damage. The fluid also helps to keep the lines and hoses from drying out.

Checking the system is a fairly straightforward task: you just open the hood and locate the washer fill opening; it’s generally a clear opaque white plastic bottle with a color coded blue or yellow cap and a symbol that looks like a windshield with water being sprayed on it. Fill the bottle or reservoir up to the full line, or in some cases there is a small dipstick attached to the cap to indicate the level.

There are several different types of fluid available and since it can sit in the reservoir for months, be careful to always use a blend that will protect to a minus 15 degree or so de-ice number when in areas that have cold winter weather. This will help to keep the fluid from freezing in the lines which could lead to pump damage and the lack of the ability to clear your windshield in a dangerous situation. These washer fluids have cleaning agents as well to help remove bugs and dirt or bird droppings to keep your windshield sparkling clear.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Wipers not working.

Hi, I have ran across this many times on this vehicle. The most common cause of this is a bad connection at the wiper motor. There is a common issue with the terminals either coming loose or melting causing a...

Q: I think my clutch or clutch master cyclinder went out

Hello - it sounds like the clutch hydraulics are not functioning properly. Check for adequate fluid level first - the clutch fluid reservoir is near the brake fluid reservoir on the firewall (driver side). If the fluid level is low,...

Q: How do you use the windshield wipers and washers?

Your windshield wipers clear away rain and mist from the windshield, helping you drive more safely. Your washers help clean dirt, dust and pollen from the glass. Using your wipers is simple when you know a few basic steps: ...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...