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Car maintenance 101: How not to keep the windshield clean

A few weeks ago, after adding power steering fluid to my old Honda Accord, I noticed the plastic receptable under the hood where the windshield wiper fluid goes. I thought: “Might as well fill that up too while I’m at it.”


I went into our garage and looked to the open shelves on the right, where my husband and I keep various containers of liquids that cars require. I grabbed the large one on the ground that said “windshield wiper fluid,” took it to the car, opened the cap, and poured it into the open plastic container.


Within seconds, I abruptly stopped pouring. The liquid coming out of the container was thick and brown — nothing like windshield wiper fluid. Omigod. I realized: It must be spent oil. My husband obviously must have used that plastic container for storing used oil and never disposed of it.


Lucky for him, he was working thousands of miles away at the time. When we discussed this mishap on the phone, he said: “Didn’t you look at the colour of the liquid in the container?” No, I didn’t. I read the label, took it on face value, and poured. I suggested: “Can you please label it next time?”


“How much did you pour in?” he asked. “A quarter cup, half a cup . . .?”


“I don’t know.” I truly didn’t, and don’t. I’m guessing that it was not even a half-cup.


My husband emailed me me a detailed, step-by-step description of how I could try and get the oil out. Fill the receptable with water and wait for the oil to rise, like my own BP oil spill disaster. Then use paper towels to try and soak it up, and put some dish soap in afterwards. Make sure that you’ve got newspapers spread out on the ground underneath. To save myself the hassle, he recommended that I take the car to the garage and let them remedy the matter.


I’m too embarrassed to do that. I’ll try the soak-it-up-yourself method first.

August 31, 2010 at 6:41 pm
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