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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
DIY windshield washer fluid - low fluid sensor

I've noticed a number of comments about the lack of a windshield washer fluid low sensor. Doing a bit of googling, some sensors are as simple as a cylindrical plastic float device that slides into rubber or silicon like sleeve that just press fits into a hole in the bottom of the reservoir. GM part prices seem to run under $20 (maybe including a replacement sleeve). Many seem to have a magnet in a float that closes the contacts of a reed switch, so two wires out, open is fluid good, contacts closed (float/magnet drops down next to or over reed switch), fluid low.

Someone said Canadian BOLTs have the low WW fluid indicator by CA law. (See post #3 below, maybe not?)

So, theoretically, if unsnapping the front bumper is not a big deal, and if one can access the bottom of the tank, it should just be a matter of drilling a clean hole for the sealing sleeve to get to a working WW fluid sensor.

Then, what to do with the contacts? Is there a place to plug in to activate some indicator used in the CA model that we have, but is dormant, or does the US model not even have that programming and/or icon? Of course tapping into an existing connector can be difficult, both in getting to it (one is under the battery tray), and having the correct pins.

Maybe there is some other innocuous "fail on contacts close" indicator / indication that this one's closed contact failure/warning indication could logically "OR" into? Or, a dedicated LED somewhere (maybe tacky).

Just thinking out loud, maybe it is still easier to just check / fill the reservoir the old fashion way :| Plus, maybe the old manual solution gives one reason to periodically glance at the other fluid levels too.
 

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I could see a self-contained battery-powered circuit that could be wired without creating too much of an ugly mess so that it shines out of the ventilation tray the bottom of the windshield, never being brought into the cabin at all. It also seems desirable to avoid cutting a hole in the reservoir. A capacitive sensor similar to what is used on plastic tankage in boats would work for that but of course that means bringing in a microcontroller to periodically sample, flash a light.

(and before anybody pipes up and says "just check your washer fluid once per month" or whatever, some us of live in places where waiting to run out before 30 days has elapsed is not a useful method)

Ah-hem. Somewhere on this board is the guy who makes the "NiftyLight" for the charging port (another thing we're not supposed to need but some of us still want for various reasons).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I do not see a low fluid switch on the CA BOLT parts list? Maybe our CA friends do not have a ww fluid low sensor (yikes).

Also, in further searches, there are the magnet type that mount in a horizontal hole with a horizontal pivot arm. Some EU models (e.g. Audi) seem to just use two electrodes, so there is another electronics board somewhere too.

->I like one of the GM (or Honda, or some such) ww sensors because they are relatively simple, come with a seal, and presumably have a proven reliability sitting in ww fluid for some years.

The capacitive type might be more expensive, especially if they just have contact outputs (so some built in electronics). Adafruit shows some nifty liquid "tape measure", way overkill, plus $50+, and the needed micro board and display. There could be other float options from other equipment, industries.

Maybe, a drop-in self contained indicator with bluetooth or such, that one just drops in and lets fall to the bottom :) Or, a camera that looks at the inside bottom of the container.

yes, maybe a new product for the NiftyLight guy :)
 

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Wouldn't it be easier just to carry some fluid in the trunk? A quart bottle ought to get you out of any jamb.
Absolutely, practically speaking! But this isn't entirely about practicality.

Although, if you've ever run out of washer fluid on I-90 while crossing Snoqualmie pass you'll know that pulling over is not an option and that it's down to peering through smear at that point.

Human nature being what it is, maybe a hose attachment alongside the charger port would be the thing. :D
 

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Wouldn't it be easier just to carry some fluid in the trunk? A quart bottle ought to get you out of any jamb.
Or just be in the habit of filling the reservoir when you do your monthly under-hood check. I've never had w/w fluid sensors in any of my cars and by refilling monthly I've never run out of fluid despite having driven in conditions where I've had to do a LOT of squirting...

You (the OP) DO check under the hood every month, right?
 

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Or just be in the habit of filling the reservoir when you do your monthly under-hood check. I've never had w/w fluid sensors in any of my cars and by refilling monthly I've never run out of fluid despite having driven in conditions where I've had to do a LOT of squirting...

You (the OP) DO check under the hood every month, right?
This
 

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DIY windshield washer fluid - low fluid sensor

<snip>

Then, what to do with the contacts? Is there a place to plug in to activate some indicator used in the CA model that we have, but is dormant, or does the US model not even have that programming and/or icon? Of course tapping into an existing connector can be difficult, both in getting to it (one is under the battery tray), and having the correct pins.

Maybe there is some other innocuous "fail on contacts close" indicator / indication that this one's closed contact failure/warning indication could logically "OR" into? Or, a dedicated LED somewhere (maybe tacky

Tie it into the glowing blue strip? >:)
 

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Since you guys seem intent on some kind of "solution" beyond common sense ;) how about the following:

Take one of these counters:
[ame]https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071S6PDWC/ref=sspa_dk_detail_4?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B071S6PDWC[/ame]
and strap it to the wiper stalk. Each time you "squirt" it counts up 1. When it gets to 20 (YMMV depending on your squirt effectiveness ratio), you will know to replenish the fluid!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Or just be in the habit of filling the reservoir when you do your monthly under-hood check. I've never had w/w fluid sensors in any of my cars and by refilling monthly I've never run out of fluid despite having driven in conditions where I've had to do a LOT of squirting...

You (the OP) DO check under the hood every month, right?
just that. cool

BTW, just so that you can understand the nastiness of your post, "You ( ) ARE afraid to work on your own car, right?" I doubt that is the case, but do you see why the post could have been insulting?
 

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BTW, just so that you can understand the nastiness of your post, "You ( ) ARE afraid to work on your own car, right?" I doubt that is the case, but do you see why the post could have been insulting?
My intent wasn't to be nasty, but rather to point out that people should be checking their fluid levels on a regular basis. You don't have to be a mechanic to note how much liquid is in the four little reservoirs in there (three coolant loops and one brake cylinder). This is something that everyone ought to do (along with checking the tires and lights) regardless of whether you're worried about your windshield washer fluid levels.
 

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Unlike the other reservoirs under the hood, the only way to check the washer fluid reservoir level is to fill it, for folks planning around this. So as somebody up thread mentioned, carry fluid (and that's a good idea in winter at least regardless of whether there's a level sensor).
 

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Many seem to have a magnet in a float that closes the contacts of a reed switch, so two wires out, open is fluid good, contacts closed (float/magnet drops down next to or over reed switch), fluid low.
That is exactly how all my Toyota鈥檚 & Honda鈥檚 work. The system is bulletproof, I have never had one fail, even on cars that are 20 years old, with 400+K. Up here everybody uses alcohol based fluid.
They are set so that when the dash light comes on, you can add a full 4L (1gal) jug.
I do not see a low fluid switch on the CA BOLT parts list? Maybe our CA friends do not have a ww fluid low sensor (yikes).
Interesting, coming home from skiing yesterday, my Corolla light came on. This bears further investigation. Every vehicle in Canada has had a low fluid light, for decades. My oldest ICE, (1999 Sienna), has one.
It is no joke to be caught on a busy hiway & run out. If the road is really wet/slushy there is enough moisture thrown up to wipe clean. It鈥檚 when the road is only a little wet, you get spatters, & all that happens is a smear when you turn on wipers.
Based on previous vehicles, I never gave it a thought, but after reading this thread, I cut out a space in the styrofoam for a 1 litre juice container of WW fluid.
 

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Thinking along Sean's lines, it struck me that it might be possible to put a float and stick in the washer reservoir. However the filler neck is too sinuous for that.

Noodling on it. I don't really want to "check" fluid level by filling while out on the road. On the other hand while a factory level indicator would have been preferable* it seems maybe a little too much to get into it via electronics as a retrofit.

Experiences and preferences vary so while I appreciate Sean's advice as at least basic behavior, I'm rather enthusiastic in my use of both the front and rear washers and find capacity for a month between checks during this time of year doubtful. Something to make interim checking a little easier would be nice.

*almost succeeded in not mentioning the GD-- confined to this.
 

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Thinking along Sean's lines, it struck me that it might be possible to put a float and stick in the washer reservoir. However the filler neck is too sinuous for that.
If you can find some transparent plastic tubing that's a little flexible you can do the dip test that I used to use to check the fuel level of my Cessna. Start the tube down the neck of the wiper fluid reservoir and keep feeding it until you feel it bottom out. Cover the top end with your thumb to seal it and pull it out again. The amount of fluid in the tube tells you how full the reservoir is. You can even get fancy and use a felt pen to mark intervals on the tube after you add known amounts of fluid to the reservoir.
 

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As of today I can positively state that the Canadian models do not have a sensor.
Backing out of the garage I noticed the last driver left the windshield quite a mess. Push the lever for some fluid got a couple a short little squirts than nothing.
Tank was mike tango, MT, nada, zilch, and no nice little light showing you can add a full gallon jug .
I still like the car but man Chevy, come on you鈥檙e scraping the barrel now. I have never seen a car, even the most basic model, in 20 years, that didn鈥檛 have this feature
 
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