Written By Redis Caraj
Published Dec. 28, 2020

Whether you’re restoring a car or trying to keep it on the road, you are eventually going to need to install or replace the windshield washer fluid reservoir. It might not be the first part that comes to mind, but it’s something every vehicle needs. Coming from experience, not having one in your car sucks, and it’s worth having, especially if you live anywhere in which rain, dust, and snow are an issue. Naturally, anyone who has to deal with this is going to have a few questions. You’ll probably have more trouble finding a place to mount it or setting it into the OE position than you will trying to find a suitable replacement. Still, our goal is to always help out as much as possible. That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together this buying guide.

You may be shocked that a universal option takes our top pick, especially considering factory replacements offer the best possible fit. But this universal option is among the best because it comes with so many useful goodies. The reservoir holds roughly a half of a gallon of fluid but is narrow enough to fit under the hood of most vehicles. It comes with a mounting bracket and a universal pump as well. Yes, this is an entire system that you can wire up to run by itself, or you can run it on a factory pump. It also comes with wiring and plumbing that you’ll need.

This washer fluid has it all. But because it’s universal, it can’t contend with an OE type system. But for the money and everything it includes, we can’t complain about much.

Key Features
  • Universal reservoir
  • Includes universal pump
  • Comes with all necessary materials
Specification
  • Brand ACI
  • Model 99300
  • Weight 8 ounces
PROS

All-in-one kit

Includes everything for operation

Great price point

CONS

Does not offer factory performance

What if you just need the most affordable option possible? Well, this option is exactly that. It’s a universal washer fluid reservoir, and it comes with everything you need to get it running. Plus, it has the lowest price of any entry on our list. The kit includes the washer bottle, the necessary plumbing, and even a mounting bracket. There is also a built-in pump on the bottle that you can use to run with a factory system or independently. And yes, it does include the necessary wiring. This pump also includes the spray nozzles, which is a big plus for someone working with a universal application.

Again, it’s a universal system, which means that it can’t stack up against an OE system. But we should also note that many folks complain about the fact that it doesn’t include instructions. While it is simple enough to figure out, good instructions can make or break a product.

Key Features
  • Universal reservoir
  • Features built-in pump
Specification
  • Brand Wadoy
  • Model 160186
  • Weight 1.15 LBS
PROS

All-in-one system

Includes everything for operation

Great price point

CONS

Not an OE fit

Does not include instructions

It shouldn’t be a surprise that a factory replacement is featured on our list. After all, it offers a far better fit and finish than any universal option possibly could. And you might argue that because this is specific to select vehicles, it won’t work with others. You are right, but you should consider this as a representation of what’s available. This type of washer fluid reservoir bolts directly in place of the factory unit and has the necessary contours and curves to fit the engine bay. Dorman, the manufacturer, also prides itself on making a perfect fit and improving on any flaws in the original design. So, it’s not only a replacement. It’s a slight upgrade. And it supports almost every modern make and model, so the company probably has exactly what you’re looking for.

What’s the drawback? A factory replacement is far more costly than any universal option out there. So, it can be a small setback. But because it’s such a good fit, it’s hard to argue with pricing.

Key Features
  • Factory replacement
Specification
  • Brand Dorman
  • Model 603-018
  • Weight 1.5 pounds
PROS

Offers superior fit and finish

May surpass the factory quality

CONS

High pricing

Turning our attention back to universal entries, here is another all-in-one system. This kit comes with absolutely everything you need to get up and running when a factory replacement isn’t an option. It includes a bottle that measures seven inches tall, 5.2 inches wide, and has a depth of 3.6 inches. It’s got the ability to hold more than enough fluid and fits nicely into many engine bays. That said, users indicate that it works like a factory replacement for a few popular vehicles. We should also highlight that it includes all the necessary wiring, plumbing, and brackets to hook it all up.

While you may have the option to use this as a factory replacement, it’s not an OE-style setup. That means fit and performance may be off. However, having the ability to tap into some factory systems can vastly improve its performance.

Key Features
  • Universal reservoir
  • All-in-one system
  • Can run on select OE systems
Specification
  • Brand Otuayauto
  • Model 160186
  • Weight 14.4 ounces
PROS

Includes everything to install and run

May work with OE components

CONS

Not an OE fit and finish

UTVs have windshields too. And you know what? They get extremely dirty. Good thing there’s an option to run a washer fluid system for it. This particular entry is specific to the Polaris RZR, but it can still get the wheels turning if you don’t own one. No, there’s no factory system to work with, so it’s a good thing this kit includes absolutely everything you’ll need to get going. It has a bottle, but it also comes with all the plumbing, wiring, switches, nozzles, and even the built-in pump you need to get the thing running. It even features a bracket system for the bottle and hoses so that you can keep everything nice and neat.

The only thing to be aware of is that the bottle and bracket tend to slide during hard riding. It doesn’t render the system useless, but you may need to adjust now and again to reduce the risk of it falling off.

Key Features
  • Washer system for Polaris RZR
Specification
  • Brand Kemimoto
  • Model UTVWW008-FBA
  • Weight 1.01 pounds
PROS

All-in-one kit

Includes all necessary components

Great price

CONS

The mounting system struggles on hard rides

We include this factory replacement for two reasons. First off, it helps show the range of product that’s available from the supplier. This is a factory replacement for front reservoirs on older Ford and Lincoln models. It closely matches the original equipment but has some significant improvements in quality. Again, Dorman’s goal isn’t to just replace parts. They focus on improving the design. That means you’ll see this replacement last for a very long time. We also feature it because it has a great price point. Many factory replacements have huge price tags. In this case, it’s only slightly more than a universal set up.

The only drawback to this is that it’s only the reservoir. On an older vehicle, the entire washer system may need replacement. If that’s the case, you will need additional parts to accompany this unit. But that’s only a potential issue, and it doesn’t take much away from the product.

Key Features
  • Factory replacement
Specification
  • Brand Dorman
  • Model 603-162
  • Weight 1.94 pounds
PROS

Offers superior fit and finish

May surpass the factory quality

CONS

Reservoir only

Well, it’s time we bring our list of top picks to a close. Before we do, we’ll take a look at one more universal system. And yes, it is an entire kit, meaning it’s an excellent option on so many levels. It does have a great price point as well, which is always a big plus. The bottle in this setup has a height of 7 inches, a width of 5 inches, and measures 4 inches in depth. That means it can fit under the hood of a wide range of vehicles and hole a respectable amount of fluid. And, like many of the others, it comes with all the equipment you need to get it up and running. Despite being universal, it may also work as a factory replacement with the proper installment procedure.

And you probably guess that the drawback is that it doesn’t fit as a true factory replacement will. Even if it’s an obvious bit of information, it is worth revisiting to prevent any confusion.

Key Features
  • Universal reservoir
  • Includes universal pump
Specification
  • Brand Wadoy
  • Model 99300
  • Weight 12.8 ounces
PROS

Comes with all necessary materials

Includes all necessary components

Great price point

CONS

Does not offer factory performance

Best Washer Fluid Reservoirs Buying Guide & FAQ

Alright, after running through our top picks, it’s time to move onto the buying guide. To be completely honest, there’s not a whole lot we need to cover here because the process is extremely simple. Most vehicle owners only need to be concerned with the year, make, and model of their car. A basic parts search will turn up the reservoir they need.

But, that’s not to say there aren’t some small things to be aware of. With that said, the windshield washer and wiper system is a great place to start learning more about cars. It’s relatively simple and easy to understand. For more guidance with this area, you should check out our guides on How to Replace Wiper Blades, How to Maintain your Car in the Winter, Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid, and Windshield Washer Pump Troubleshooting.

Benefits of a Washer Fluid Reservoir

Pouring water into a washer fluid reservoir

Let’s start by talking about why you need a washer fluid reservoir or why you need to replace yours. The most obvious answer is that you use it to store washer fluid. While a dirty windshield may not be your primary concern, it should always be a priority. Trying to drive with dust, watermarks, or any other substance on the windshield can be extremely annoying. Not only that, it can be a major distraction, and that’s never a good thing.

It’s also worth keeping up with the basic maintenance of your vehicle. For one, it helps preserve the value in case you ever try to resell it. And even if you can rig something in there to do the job, having an actual reservoir for washer fluid keeps things clean. That may seem superficial, but it’s just a nice feeling to have everything nice and tidy under the hood.

  • Creates/maintains a dedicated area to keep washer fluid.
  • Keep things clean under the hood.
  • Keeping up with basic maintenance can preserve vehicle value. 

Types of Washer Fluid Reservoirs

An open washer fluid reservoir

When it comes to the type of reservoirs you can select between, there are only two to concern yourself with. You’ll either have something that is meant to work as a direct replacement or a universal one. What to use and when comes down to a few aspects. The most obvious is what’s available on the market and whether or not the part even exists for your vehicle anymore. If you’re running something old or it’s not very popular, you’re likely to run into such a situation. But, most vehicle owners won’t face this issue.

Factory Replacement

A factory replacement type of washer fluid reservoir is one that closely matches, if not directly matches, the factory unit. In most cases, this is the best option to go with. For one, universal reservoirs might not fit so naturally under the hood. This is especially true in the case of modern vehicles where room under the hood is extremely limited. Not only that, even if a universal one will fit and work, it probably won’t look as good as a factory replacement will.

Finding one is pretty simple. All you need to do is match it to the make and model of your vehicle. In some cases, trim and engine details may be necessary. Even if they are, it’s still pretty easy to find one.

Universal

But let’s say you have an odd vehicle and you can’t locate the factory replacement. There’s the chance that the manufacturer might not make one anymore. And in many cases, making custom mods to the vehicle might make it impossible to fit a washer fluid reservoir in the factory location. Well, that’s when you turn to a universal one.

Universal reservoirs come in many shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to plan ahead of time and find a place that you can mount them. Keeping it away from hot and moving parts are essential, and you need to be sure it’s somewhere that you can easily add fluid. The good news is, these are pretty affordable, so if you just don’t care what it looks like under the hood, this is a solid option.

Best Washer Fluid Reservoirs FAQ:

Even a topic as simple as windshield washer fluid reservoirs is bound to turn up questions that we have yet to provide answers to. Even if they seem to have an obvious answer, it is worth going through them. That way, there’s less of a chance that we miss essential details that readers may be looking for.

Q: What do I put in my windscreen washer reservoir?

Traditionally, one would put windshield washer fluid in it. You can use household glass cleaners, water, or homemade washer fluids, but premade dedicated washer fluid does work best. 

Q: Can you mix summer and winter windshield washer fluid?

Yes, you absolutely can. However, summer washer fluid will not perform well in the winter. And when you mix it with winter washer fluid, the ability to perform in cold weather will deteriorate.

Q: What happens if I put antifreeze in my windshield washer fluid?

It shouldn’t hurt the operating system in any capacity. However, anti-freeze may damage the vehicle’s paint. So if you put anti-freeze in by accident, you may want to flush it out.

Our Top Pick

Again, our top pick goes to the ACI 99300 Windshield Washer Pump because, even though it’s universal, it comes with everything you need to get it running. It even comes with a universal pump, but you can use the factory one if you need to. The inclusion of plumbing, a switch, and even some wiring make it an excellent choice for someone working without the system. If you need something for a farm truck or a custom job, this is hard to beat. And the price point is a great bonus.

Final Thoughts

Though we favor the ACI 99300 Windshield Washer Pump, we know many folks will reach for the Wadoy 12V 160186 Universal Car Windshield Washer Pump System. After all, we agree that it’s hard to argue against a full system at a low price. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you! So, which washer fluid reservoir are you going with? Universal or factory replacement?

Sources:

  1. How to Add Windshield Washer Fluid to Your Car – Wikipedia
  2. Windshield Washer Fluid – Wikipedia

MORE TO READ

Load more...