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Don’t let your windshield freeze over while you’re on the road

Winter in Alaska means a spike in driving hazards. The snow and black ice inevitably lead to higher instances of skid-outs and accidents on the road. But there is one serious—and less commonly discussed—driving hazard: using the wrong type of windshield wiper fluid. In extreme cold conditions, spraying ineffective wiper fluid could immediately freeze your windshield over, resulting in complete blindness while you’re behind the wheel. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation both for you and the other cars around you.

What’s the right kind of fluid?

If you’re driving in Minnesota this winter, it is essential that you buy a windshield wiper fluid that can withstand temperatures well below zero. The cheapest, all-purpose windshield wiper fluid is typically one part anti-freeze to 10 parts water. Using this type of fluid when it’s -20 outside will lead to an instantaneous sheet of ice on your windshield, blocking your view of the road.

Instead, try one of these options:

  • Buy a winter blend of wiper fluid, which has equal parts anti-freeze and water. This type of fluid will freeze at a much lower temperature.
  • Buy anti-freeze wiper fluid, which is alcohol-based.
  • DIY wiper fluid: Mix two quarts of rubbing alcohol with one cup of water and one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. This solution should remain liquid up to 30 below zero.

If you are uncertain what type of wiper fluid is currently in your car, test it outside on a very cold day before you start driving. If it freezes, you will need to drain the current fluid from your car before replacing it with a stronger solution. Adding stronger wiper fluid to the weaker solution is unlikely to solve the problem.

Preventing weather-related hazards is key to surviving an Alaska winter. Follow these precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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