How To Check And Top Up Windscreen Wash

Topping up the screen wash fluid or washer fluid is one of the easiest maintenance tasks you can do yourself. However, if you’ve not done it before, it can be a bit confusing with all the different fluid reservoirs you see under the bonnet. To help you locate and fill up your screen wash reservoir, we’ve provided some simple instructions below:

Where is the windscreen washer reservoir located?

With the engine off, first, you’ll need to pop open the bonnet and pin it up securely. Then look for the screenwash bottle on the driver’s side which will typically be marked by a symbol with a windscreen and some water droplets across it. Sometimes, the cap will be blue in colour. If you still can’t find it, check your owner’s manual.

showing windscreen wash reservoir symbol under the bonnet

How to top up screen wash

  • Once you’ve located the screen wash reservoir, open the cap and insert a funnel to avoid spillage
  • Pour the screen wash carefully until it is full
  • Most reservoirs are between 3 to5 litres which should give you a good indication of the fluid required
    • You can use either a pre-mixed washer fluid solution or a concentrate that needs to be mixed with filtered water. Be careful when using concentrates and read the instructions carefully. Using hard water to mix with the concentrate, for example, is not recommended as it may cause damage.
    • If you live in colder climates, then make sure the washer fluid you use is of high quality and has antifreeze properties.
  • Once the reservoir is full, don’t forget to close the cap so it is secure

Can you put water in your car instead of screen wash?

No, you should not put water in the screen wash reservoir instead of screen wash. Water may do the job of spraying the windscreen for a quick clean but it can cause long-term damage, especially when the water is hard.

In winter, due to the freezing point of water, it can freeze not just in the reservoir but also once sprayed on the windscreen which defeats the purpose of the feature.

Additionally, if you use only water instead of washer fluid, it will not do a very good job of cleaning the dirt and grime accumulated on the windscreen. Avoid adding Fairy liquid as this can leave a soapy film across the windscreen which is not ideal.

How much does it cost to fill up screen wash?

A 5-litre bottle of ready-to-use screen wash fluid will cost around £5 whereas a 1 ltr bottle of concentrated screen wash to be diluted with water (that can make up to 10 litres of fluid) can cost between £5-7. A typical reservoir will not have more than 5-litre capacity.

Can having no screen wash lead to an MOT failure?

Typically, an empty screen wash reservoir will result in an MOT fail. Ultimately, it all comes down to whether the tester believes that the lack of screen wash will affect the driver’s ability to see then they may fail the MOT. The best thing to do is check the fluid level before an MOT and top up if required.