What are options for what appears to be a frozen window fluid problem

I have a 2003 Chevy Impala. As our temps have gotten below freezing it appears that my windshield fluid cleaning system has frozen as I am getting nothing out of it when I try to use it. I can hear the sound of it trying but nothing is coming out. When I checked the reserve it was lacking fluid so I put in some but to no avail, still nothing coming out of the wiper blades. Any suggestions and solving the possible frozen issue? They were working just fine prior to this below freezing time.

Unless you can park the car in a heated garage, you will have to wait until the ambient temperature is above freezing for at least a few hours. Once you are able to drain the fluid from the system, I suggest that you refill it with a premium WW fluid, such as Rain-X or Prestone Winter WW Fluid.

I had the exact same problem last year, during the really cold weather, despite using fluid that was labeled as winter fluid. Without question, it froze somewhere in the lines leading to the WW nozzles. On an unseasonably warm day, I did exactly as described above, and never had another problem with the WW system, even on extremely cold days.

Based on my experience, there is a definite difference in the low temperature rating of the premium WW fluids, as compared to the cheap generic blue stuff that is sold everywhere.

put it in garage. or go to a self serve car wash. you could bring a bucket and pour some warmish water onto the hoses/piping. get some good washer fluid. not the orange bug juice which always seems to freeze

Well I will have to wait for the weekend before we even get to 30 degrees out side, until then I guess I will have to carry a spray bottle in my car of good WS fluid and spritz my window when I can…

well, you have a warranty. tell them the washer pump is not working. maybe its covered.

Can you run a hair dryer to the car? Maybe you can warm things up enough to get the fluid moving. I’d start at the nozzles and work backwards from there. Then you’ll need to get a better brand of fluid in there.

I’ve often wondered if adding a small amount of windshield washer fluid concentrate to regular washer fluid would reduce the freezing point, hopefully while still being safe for your paint.

I believe it’s not the pump, I can hear it working when I flip the switch, just nothing coming out of the wiper blades fluid wise…

I don’t know the type of fluid that was in there prior to me getting the car. I know the type I use has never frozen in any previous cars.

No go onthe hair dryer…don’t own one…;-(

You can get a hair dryer for about $20 (e.g., I looked online at Target and at Bed Bath & Beyond). Even if it’s worth that to you, you still have to consider if you will need to get a heavy duty extension cord and if that cord will even be adequate. Wish I could be more encouraging.

The pump may be damaged from being operated with the fluid frozen.

I use the “cheap blue stuff” and have never had it freeze despite temps at -10 Farenheit.
I am guessing your car might have summer fluid left in it, which freezes at 32. If you can get it thawed somehow, you can dope the fluid in there by adding methanol (methyl alcohol), which is sold as a gas additive. Do not use Iso-Heet which has some detergents and cleaners added and might damage your water system. 2 bottles of plain Heet or an equivalent should make the stuff you have freeze-proof.

If you hear the pump running, the system isn’t frozen. I don’t know where you live, but my car lives outside. Prior to this cold snap we had a rain/snow mix. The rain dilutes the fluid in the nozzles and freezes as soon as it gets colder out. Get the car nice and warm and cover the lower windshield and cowling area with a blanket with the engine running. This will warm the nozzles and thaw them. After a short time remove the blanket and quickly run the squirters. You’ll be good until the next time it rains and then turns bitterly cold. This happens to me no matter what brand fluid I use.

@Cavell; it’s a 2003 and I doubt a warranty would cover it on a 2013 ???

I don’t know where to find them, but I remember someone having a little immersion heater, the size of a co2 cartridge with a cord that you plug in to make tea. That would thaw it.


I think you would have to keep this IN LIQUID or it would burn out. If you can add enough good fluid over it, it may work.

Mine froze last year because I let a buddy top mine off with some stuff he got on sale. It was not rated for the cold weather.
Because it was almost empty when he filled it, I had a block of ice in the tank. I tried adding a quart of alcohol, but that did nothing. I ended up removing the tank and putting it in front of the propane heater to thaw.

I like the idea of the hair drier if you can get one. I’d point it at the tank, leaving it enough room to draw in fresh air…close the hood and drape a heavy blanket over that side of the hood to keep the heat in. In an hour it should be thawed out. Be sure to be out of the wind so you don’t lose heat too fast. Or better yet see if you can use a buddies garage for a couple of hours.
Use a turkey baster to remove the old fluid…then fill with high quality fluid…and flush the lines by running some of that fluid through the system.


Many cars have moved the windshield fluid bottle to the front behind the fender guard where there is little engine heat. If that is the case on this Impala it will be difficult to get everything thawed out while outdoors in sub freezing temperature. But I agree that the alcohol additives like Heet can be used to drop the freezing point of the windshield fluid. I have thrown a couple of bottles in my windshield fluid each winter to avoid problems such as this. While it costs more than replacing the summer fluid with winter it is much quicker and much less trouble.

Agree with @VDCdriver‌. You really cn’t tell until the car system is heated that it’s frozen and not clogged. Melting everything first is a first step then dumping all that’s in the contained and trying then to pump what is inline out while filling it with one of VDC’s suggestions. Generally, I have never had a problem with even cheap stuff freezing according to @melott and Rod’s comment is certainly worth considering. Maybe, you could idle the car for an extended peoriod to heat up the engine compartment above freezing. It should work as a first step.

Your problem is not the worst that can happen. I have sprayed washer fluid on a cold windshield and had it spread a thin layer of ice on the whole wiper area. That makes for an exciting ride. I recommend using Prestone “De-Icer”. It is not available in all stores, but is the best stuff I have ever used. It comes in a plastic bottle that is the same size/shape as Prestone anti-freeze.

Just letting the car idle the engine heat should melt the ice. Once melted then replace with winter fluid.

The resevior bottle on the impala sits almost over the passanger side wheel well attached on the frame of the car. I have not been able to get the fluid where ever it’s frozen to melt in my drives to and from work and it’s only suppose to get colder over the next few days…

It may be frozen at the nozzles. Try running the hair dryer there on one side after a long drive to melt everything that can be melted. If it works, try the other side.

“Just letting the car idle the engine heat should melt the ice.”

That might work, but I can tell you that even a 2 hour drive did not act to defrost my frozen WW system last winter, and I was only able to get things working again when we had a relatively warm day.

Then, I drained the system, threw away the cheap blue stuff, and replaced it with Rain-X Winter WW Fluid. It is more expensive, but it is worth it as I never again had problems–even in extremely cold weather.

My recommendation for when the weather gets warmer and it unfreezes is to purge the system and refill it with “winter mix” washer fluid. “summer mix” will freeze every time.