Best car screen wash to buy in 2019

Which screenwash formula will cut through grime and help to boost visibility in all temperatures? We test eight to find out

You don’t have to be a passionate detailer to buy screenwash. Just like oil, pretty much every driver will buy it, because few things are more irritating behind the wheel than trying to clear a mucky screen only for the wipers to make visibility worse as the pump delivers nothing but air.

And, like oil, it’s one of the more complex products to buy; once you’ve picked from convenient ready-mixed or versatile concentrates, there is a bewildering range to choose from.

So which is the wash to keep your screen clear during the big winter freeze and then the summer bug fest? We mixed eight and got busy with a calculator to find out.

How we tested them

We looked for the best all-year-round screenwash and focused on those without a rain repellent to ensure we compared like with like. Each was mixed to its winter concentration and stuck in the deep freeze, and we timed how long they took to ice over. To tackle baked-on bugs and a measured smear of oil on the screen, we used the wipers and just 100ml of the summer solution, monitoring how much was shifted. We then factored in winter and summer costs using makers’ and online prices to name a winner.

Verdict

Previous winner Prestone gains the top spot again thanks to its performance in extreme weather while Halfords Screenwash comes in at second place, only being geaten marginally. Sonax takes third in this test after missing out on a podium postion last time.

  • 1. Prestone Extreme Performance Screen Wash
  • 2. Halfords Screen Wash Super Concentrate
  • 3. Sonax Antifreeze & Clear View
  • ReviewsPrestone Extreme Performance Screen Wash

    Price: £3.50
    Rating: 5/5
    Size: 2,000ml

    A second win on the trot for US winter specialist Prestone, which lived up to its ‘excels in extremes’ boast. Nothing could stay with it in the freezer test, where it justified its claims to melt ice down to -23 degrees Celsius. It lasted more than 150 minutes, while no rival made it up to two hours. It’s used neat in winter but, despite this, it was by no means the priciest. Add in a sound performance for the much cheaper summer mix on the bugs and oil, and you have our top choice.

    Halfords Screen Wash Super Concentrate

    Price: £3.50
    Rating: 4.5/5
    Size: 500ml

    Super debut for Super Concentrate, which is a new addition to the Halfords range. If Prestone starred in the freezer, this topped the screen tests, although the margin was much closer to rivals. It was the best on both the oil and bugs in our two attempts, lifting more away while rivals could only smear the screen, no doubt helped by the lack of a summer dilution. Using the -5 deg C mix it was effective but relatively expensive. It was the best of the rest in the freezer, lasting more than an hour at -20 deg C. 

    Sonax Antifreeze & Clear View

    Price: £6
    Rating: 4/5
    Size: 1,000ml

    A return to the podium for the German brand, which has won this test in the past with its 1:100 screenwash. This is now our preferred option; on performance alone it was second only to our winner. It lasted just shy of two hours in the deep freeze; way ahead of all but the remarkable Prestone. It was also among the top performers on the screen. But its lack of a mix for temperatures above -10 deg C meant it was among the most costly on test, giving the edge to the new Halfords.

    CarPlan Demon Shot

    Price: £6.25
    Rating: 4/5
    Size: 500ml

    Another newcomer and another impressive debut. CarPlan says this can be used to boost what’s in the washer reservoir ‘for unexpected winter conditions’, as a de-icer or to make screenwash, which is what we did. The winter mix was one of the more expensive, but it did make it the best of the rest with Halfords in the freezer, at just over an hour. On the screen it was at the front of the midfield group, although a keen price here helped it secure fourth place.

    Autoglym Ultimate Screenwash

    Price: £4.30
    Rating: 3.5/5
    Size: 500ml

    Ultimate Screenwash has been around for years and puts in another solid performance, although newer rivals now seem to have an edge. It lasted an hour in the freezer before icing over, but it was among the more expensive. On the screen it was next best, behind Halfords and CarPlan All Season, but again at a price – over double those of some rivals. There’s a pleasant scent compared with some of the harsh alcohol whiffs of competitors.

    Jewelultra Screenwash

    Price: £10
    Rating: 3/5
    Size: 5,000ml

    No arguing with the price of this screenwash from Jewelultra, which was the least expensive all year round. The reason for this is that there’s just one dilution rate: 100ml to a litre of water. Easy on the wallet, but not great for performance. It was mid-pack on the screen, struggling to shift the bugs. That low dilution rate also hurt its chances in the freezer, where it was one of the early exits after 45 minutes. A choice of mixes for conditions would help this product no end.

    CarPlan All Seasons Screen Wash

    Price: £6.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Size: 1,000ml

    A mixed performance from CarPlan All Seasons, which is better suited to warmer temperatures. It topped the screen test alongside Halfords, proving particularly effective on the baked-on bugs. But it was one of the more expensive mixes. And winter conditions are its biggest problem. Even though we used it neat for temperatures down to -6 deg C – we aimed for -8 to 10 deg C where there was a choice – the formula only made it to 45 minutes before icing over. And that at a cost of £6.99 a litre.

    P1 Autocare Screenwash Pod

    Price: £1.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Size: One pod

    If you care about the environment, this is for you, because it doesn’t need one of the 100 million plastic bottles which P1 Autocare claims screenwash uses every year. Simply drop the pod in the washer bottle and fill with water. This means the concentration will depend on your washer bottle size, but it’s good for five litres, which is what we made. The price is keen, but performance is lacking on the screen and it lasted just 45 minutes in the ice test.

    Want to keep your car smelling fresh inside? Then check out which car air freshener is best here…

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