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View Full Version : PSA: Don't use water in your windshield wiper fluid reservoir


fbrdphreak
06-15-2010, 10:05 AM
If you use standard tap water in your windshield washer fluid reservoir instead of a cleaner, you may have effectively turned your vehicle into a biological weapon. Sure, that sounds cool and all, but according to BBC News, the only person you're going to be hurting is yourself. As it turns out, using plain water can cause the washer fluid system to become a breeding ground for Legionella bacterium the same nastiness that causes Legionaires' Disease and pneumonia. Spray your windshield and the bacteria becomes airborne, allowing it to easily enter your lungs and wreak havoc with your immune system.

Researchers discovered the hive of scum and villainy lurking under the hood by attempting to discern why professional drivers were five times more likely to become ill than their amateur counterparts. After a little scientific sleuthing, the lab coats unearthed the bacteria. So do the world a favor and top off your windshield washer fluid reservoir with some sort of purpose-built cleaner. The stuff will kill the infection-causing bacteria and will keep the fluid from freezing in the winter. Not bad for 99 cents a gallon.

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/15/report-water-as-windshield-wiper-fluid-causes-20-of-legionnair/

I dunno about all the statistics around this causing 20% of Legionnaires' Disease cases in the UK, but still good to know!

Gibson486
06-15-2010, 10:12 AM
ummm...yeah...water under constant warm temps.....

Marlin1975
06-15-2010, 10:43 AM
A cup of alcohol will fix that. Most washer fluid is just isopropyl or methyl alcohol and blue dye. So tap water plus a little alcohol is all you need.

I mix my own to save time and money. Dump in alcohol and fill rest with water. J

fbrdphreak
06-15-2010, 10:50 AM
What a waste Marlin - you should be drinkin' that alcohol :D

waffleironhead
06-15-2010, 10:55 AM
better than accidentally putting coolant in there. (My pop did and boy was that a mess to clean out)

CraigRT
06-15-2010, 11:37 AM
Good to know I guess... for the cost of washer fluid and frequency required (only in winter) I don't have a problem spending the $5 per year on proper fluid :P

Marlin1975
06-15-2010, 12:21 PM
better than accidentally putting coolant in there. (My pop did and boy was that a mess to clean out)


My inlaws did this. I went to use the washer fluid and the windshielf got worse, really worse. Opened it up and knew what it was when I smelled it.

Told them what to use and what NOT to use. Next time I came back and now it was making lots of foam. I guess dish washing soap was better then the coolant. :rolleyes:

shortylickens
06-15-2010, 12:46 PM
I just use non-ammonia glass cleaner. Cleans and smells SUPER!

speedy2
06-15-2010, 12:57 PM
Yeah would never do just plain water. It doesn't really do much for stuck on bugs anyway. When I get oil changes the places around here usually top them off. But, now that I'm starting to do my own changes, I will have to pick up a bottle now.

JulesMaximus
06-15-2010, 02:43 PM
hive of scum and villainy

lol :D

InflatableBuddha
06-15-2010, 03:19 PM
hive of scum and villainy

Paging Obi-Wan Kenobi :sneaky:...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BVlARaJM74

Zenmervolt
06-15-2010, 03:52 PM
I'm pretty sure that the bigger issue is that when the temps drop below freezing the washers stop working.

ZV

obamanation
06-15-2010, 04:11 PM
Well if it makes you guys feel any better, you can get 1 gallon of washer fluid for about $2 at autozone where I live. Also washerfluid = windex/other generic window washing fluid, at costco, 1.3 gallons of windex will cost you $11.50 opposed to the $2 for the washer fluid at autozone. Weird that windex would be more expensive than washer fluid considering how often people fill up their washer fluid.

thescreensavers
06-15-2010, 04:39 PM
wow op I never even though of that, good to know ill top up my washer fluid then, I wash my car too often to even use it though the fluid in there is over a year old lol.

ayabe
06-15-2010, 04:40 PM
I'm pretty sure that the bigger issue is that when the temps drop below freezing the washers stop working.

ZV

That's what I thought this was going to be about or perhaps a busted reservoir.

Interesting nonetheless.

MJinZ
06-15-2010, 04:45 PM
You guys are too cheap for $3 Rain-X?

kornphlake
06-15-2010, 05:10 PM
I don't know about where you live, but my tap water is treated with chloramine, it should keep most of the scum and villainy under control, that's what it's for anyway, keeping scum and villainy out of the pipes...

I use the correct fluids regardless, plain water doesn't really wash windows very well.

hanoverphist
06-15-2010, 06:05 PM
I'm pretty sure that the bigger issue is that when the temps drop below freezing the washers stop working.

ZV

not a problem here in az :D

PhoKingGuy
06-15-2010, 06:10 PM
You guys are too cheap for $3 Rain-X?

This.....its usually on sale for 2 bucks a bottle at walmart

marvdmartian
06-15-2010, 06:31 PM
I'm pretty sure that the bigger issue is that when the temps drop below freezing the washers stop working.

ZV

My sister had a Dodge one time, that in the winter time, you didn't dare turn on the defroster until the engine was warmed up. They put the washer fluid lines going down the wiper arms (out in the open, instead of spraying from the nice warm hood), and if you jumped into the car in the wintertime, and attempted to defrost your windows by turning on the air, while the engine was warming up, it would freeze those lines solid.....and there wasn't a damn thing you could do to thaw them, unless you wanted to start hitting them with a hair dryer, or a bunch of warm water. If you waited, no problems.

The dealer told her that Dodge knew of the problem, but didn't plan on doing anything about it, and she'd just have to live with it. :rolleyes:

angry hampster
06-15-2010, 09:12 PM
A cup of alcohol will fix that. Most washer fluid is just isopropyl or methyl alcohol and blue dye. So tap water plus a little alcohol is all you need.

I mix my own to save time and money. Dump in alcohol and fill rest with water. J


Saving money? What, $1-2/year? That alcohol and water isn't free. I don't see how you'd be saving timeas you're dealing with 2 bottles instead of one.

For $3/gallon, the Rain-X fluid is really incredible.

scott916
06-16-2010, 12:26 PM
Woah, I just topped off my res with water just the other day because it ran out and I didn't feel like going to the store. Looks like I'll be adding some alcohol to that, sheesh! :eek:

LTC8K6
06-16-2010, 02:59 PM
Most tap water in the US probably won't support bacteria growth due to the sanitizing stuff that's in it from the treatment plant.

Eli
06-16-2010, 06:40 PM
Interesting. Why is this, though? What exactly makes it a breeding ground for this specific bacteria? Could you hold a tub of water at ~100 degrees and get the same result?

Most tap water in the US probably won't support bacteria growth due to the sanitizing stuff that's in it from the treatment plant.

Nah. Chlorine evaporates out of water rather quickly. It would hinder things for a while, but the bacterium would have no problems gaining a foothold given enough time.

Throckmorton
06-17-2010, 02:42 AM
Methanol is toxic low-cost bullshit. I use water and isopropyl alcohol, and that's what everybody should use. It boggles the mind that a substance that causes blindness and is toxic when inhaled is allowed to be used as windshield washer.

Zenmervolt
06-17-2010, 03:02 AM
Methanol is toxic low-cost bullshit. I use water and isopropyl alcohol, and that's what everybody should use. It boggles the mind that a substance that causes blindness and is toxic when inhaled is allowed to be used as windshield washer.

Isopropyl alcohol is also toxic you know, just less so than methanol. Also, the denatured ethanol used in most cases is denatured with... wait for it... methanol. This renders it undrinkable and therefore not subject to liquor taxes. So that ethanol and isopropyl alcohol you're advocating has methanol added to it for legal reasons.

Additionally, methanol is entirely biodegradable and does not persist in the environment nearly as long as other anti-freeze fluids (e.g. ethylene glycol).

All-told, methanol is an extremely safe substances unless you either:

1) Drink it.

or

2) Huff it.

Basically, you'd have to be a complete moron to poison yourself on methanol.

ZV

Throckmorton
06-17-2010, 03:05 AM
Isopropyl alcohol is also toxic you know, just less so than methanol. Also, the denatured ethanol used in most cases is denatured with... wait for it... methanol. This renders it undrinkable and therefore not subject to liquor taxes. So that ethanol and isopropyl alcohol you're advocating has methanol added to it for legal reasons.

Additionally, methanol is entirely biodegradable and does not persist in the environment nearly as long as other anti-freeze fluids (e.g. ethylene glycol).

All-told, methanol is an extremely safe substances unless you either:

1) Drink it.

or

2) Huff it.

Basically, you'd have to be a complete moron to poison yourself on methanol.

ZV

Isopropyl is toxic yes, but methanol has that level of toxicity at least plus it causes blindness.

When you use washer fluid, you do end up breathing the fumes. With the isopropyl I can smell it. With methanol I can't, I assume because of the other chemicals they put in the washer fluid to make people think it's safe.

Zenmervolt
06-17-2010, 01:22 PM
Isopropyl is toxic yes, but methanol has that level of toxicity at least plus it causes blindness.

When you use washer fluid, you do end up breathing the fumes. With the isopropyl I can smell it. With methanol I can't, I assume because of the other chemicals they put in the washer fluid to make people think it's safe.

Actually, it's just that there isn't as much smell to methanol or that there isn't as much added. As far as toxicity, yes, methanol is more toxic, but as I pointed out, almost all isopropyl alcohol has methanol added to it. Commercial ethanols are denatured to avoid liquor taxes and methanol is a very common denaturing agent. In fact, such ethanols are usually referred to as "methyalted spirits".

And, even though methanol is toxic when ingested, the fumes would need to be highly concentrated before they became dangerous; there's just no danger from the highly diluted fumes that might be released while washing a windshield.

ZV

fbrdphreak
06-17-2010, 02:16 PM
All of this is so scary!! I know, everyone should just drain their wiper fluid reservoirs and never use them!!!! Otherwise we all might die, aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh