The GEM standard: Screenwash test

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 by Rob Marshall

Having frozen washer jets, or no fluid at all in your screenwash bottle is illegal. Yet, how can you be sure that your money is not being squandered on coloured water, when buying screenwash additive?

  • THE FIRST TEST (Freezer):

Each screenwash was frozen in both neat and 50/50 dilution forms at -15 Degrees Celsius.

  • THE SECOND TEST (Detergent):

A windscreen was smeared with enough oil to replicate a rainy emulsion.

  • THE THIRD TEST (Odour):

Each product’s smell was evaluated.

  • ENSURING FAIRNESS:

All screenwashes were subjected to -15C freezer temperature.

For each oil test, an identical quantity of oil was used and the windscreen, washer bottle, jets and pipes were cleaned thoroughly and new wiper blades fitted.

THE RESULTS:

HALFORDS SCREEN WASH 

Typical selling price: £5.99 for five litres (**£1.20 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testThis basic ‘concentrated’ screenwash is sold by the well-established ‘High Street’ motoring retailer. Despite a pleasant smell, Halfords’ screenwash provided negligible anti-freezing properties. It was also a very poor performer in the oil shift test, although it was better than water alone.

 

Cold weather protection: 0/5

Oil clearing ability: 1/5

Smell: 3/3

FINAL SCORE: 4/13

 

WYNN’S ANTI-INSECT SCREEN-WASH 

Typical selling price: £0.99 for 250ml (**£3.96 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testAlthough famous for its engine additives, American company, Wynn’s, also markets several screenwashes. No anti-freeze properties were promoted, which explains the Anti-Insect formulation’s poor performance in the freezer test. Its oil shifting ability was slightly superior to the Halfords Screen Wash and it possessed a pleasant, faintly bubble-gum odour. Its use will not damage the polycarbonate plastics of most modern headlamp lenses.

Cold weather protection: 0/5

Oil clearing ability: 1.5/5

Smell: 3/3

FINAL SCORE: 4.5/13

 

SONAX CLEAR-VIEW. 1:100 CONCENTRATE

Typical selling price: £8.19 for 250ml (**£32.76 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testThe German Sonax car care range has gained respect as a high-quality brand but its screenwash offered no anti-freezing protection at all. At the time of testing, no alternative Sonax screenwash is available in the UK for winter conditions. Supplied with insufficient product for testing, it was impractical to mix the solution in 50/50 dilutions for the oil test but the product was moderately effective at shifting the film and it possessed virtually no odour.

Cold weather protection: 0/5

Oil clearing ability: 3/5

Smell: 3/3

FINAL SCORE: 6/13

 

BLUECOL SUB ZERO SCREEN WASH  

RRP: £3.99 for 1-litre (**£3.99 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testOwned by Tetrosyl Limited of Lancashire, Bluecol’s dark blue solution emits a strong, chemical smell, which is safe to use with polycarbonate headlamp lenses. Our 50/50 solution had almost frozen solid in the freezer but the undiluted sample was unaffected. It was capable of removing a degree of oil film from the windscreen but it was penalised heavily for its strong odour.

Cold weather protection: 2/5

Oil clearing ability: 2.5/5

Smell: 1/3

FINAL SCORE: 5.5/13

 

TOTAL ALL SEASONS SCREENWASH 

Typical price: £3.99 (**£3.99 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testProduced for the French TotalFinaElf oil company and sold throughout the UK’s network of Total-liveried garages and petrol stations, Total All Seasons Screenwash’s 50% diluted mixture had almost frozen solid in our freezer but the undiluted product was unaffected. While its performance in the oil-shift test equalled that of Bluecol Screen Wash, at least All Seasons is perfumed.

Cold weather protection: 2/5

Oil clearing ability: 2.5/5

Smell: 2/3

FINAL SCORE: 6.5/13

 

WYNN’S SUPER CONCENTRATED SCREEN-WASH 21+

RRP: £1.49 for 250ml. (**£5.96 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testThis product performed very strongly in the freezer tests. No wonder it was used by Max Adventure for their vehicles in the Arctic! It will neither harm polycarbonate lenses nor paintwork. The product’s excellent cold weather protection was marred by an average performance in the oil shift test. The strong anti-freezing ability also came at a price, a very strong chemical odour, which was not masked effectively by the synthetic lemon perfume.

Cold weather protection: 5/5

Oil clearing ability: 2.5/5

Smell: 1/3

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/13

 

COMMA ALL SEASONS SCREEN WASH

RRP: £9.49 (5-litres) (**£1.90 per litre**)

The GEM standard: Screenwash testBased in the UK, Comma Oil and Chemicals has diversified into automotive fluids and cleaning products. All Seasons Screen Wash’s 50/50 mixture developed a mushy consistency in the freezer but the undiluted sample was unaffected. The results of the oil test were above average but the product scored maximum points in the ‘scent’ test. The ‘apple fragrance’ was not overpowered by the chemicals. Comma UK stated that the product is compatible with polycarbonates, as is its higher-strength Xstream alternative.

Cold weather protection: 3/5

Oil clearing ability: 3/5

Smell: 3/3

FINAL SCORE: 9/13

 

COMMA XSTREAM SCREEN WASH

RRP: £14.99 (5-litres) (**£3.00 per litre**)

**COMMENDED – BEST VALUE CHOICE**

The GEM standard: Screenwash testAs its name suggests, Xstream is Comma’s heavy-duty screenwash and it lives up to its repute, by offering one of the best performances in the freezer test. While it also posted a strong performance in the oil shifting experiment, it lagged behind the top two products. Xstream has a modest odour, which is neither unpleasant nor overpowering.

Cold weather protection: 5/5

Oil clearing ability: 4/5

Smell: 2/3

FINAL SCORE: 11/13

 

AUTOGLYM ULTIMATE SCREENWASH

RRP: £3.25 per 500ml (**£6.50 per litre**)

**RUNNER-UP**

The GEM standard: Screenwash testAlthough the Letchworth-based company is better known for its car-care and cleaning products, it does retail a high-quality screenwash. The pink-coloured solution possesses a moderate and inoffensive smell, is polycarbonates compatible and posted a strong performance in our freezer test, although it could not equal Comma Xstream. However, its performance in the oil shift test was considerably better than Comma, removing almost all of the emulsion from the glass.

Cold weather protection: 4.5/5

Oil clearing ability: 5/5

Smell: 2/3

FINAL SCORE: 11.5/13

 

DECOSOL – DUAL ACTION HIGH PERFORMANCE SCREEN WASH OR DE-ICER 

RRP: £3.99 for 500ml.  (**£7.98 per litre**)

**WINNER**

The GEM standard: Screenwash testDecosol, now part of Selden Research Ltd, markets a dual-action performance screenwash that doubles as a de-icer, with its folding spout and squeezable bottle. Both 50/50 and neat concentrations were unaffected by our freezer tests and outperformed rivals in the oil-shifting trial, by removing almost all of the emulsion from the windscreen. For such a powerful product, it possesses only a light chemical smell, which is far from overpowering. Our main criticism is its relatively high cost.

Cold weather protection: 5/5

Oil clearing ability: 5/5

Smell: 2/3

FINAL SCORE: 12/13

 

SUMMARY:

10. HALFORDS SCREEN WASH

9. WYNN’S ANTI-INSECT SCREEN-WASH

8. SONAX CLEAR-VIEW. 1:100 CONCENTRATE

7. BLUECOL SUB ZERO SCREEN WASH  

6. TOTAL ALL SEASONS SCREENWASH

5. WYNN’S SUPER CONCENTRATED SCREEN-WASH 21+

4. COMMA ALL SEASONS SCREEN WASH

3. COMMA XSTREAM SCREEN WASH (Best Value)

2. AUTOGLYM ULTIMATE SCREENWASH (Runner-up)

1. DECOSOL – DUAL ACTION HIGH PERFORMANCE SCREEN WASH OR DE-ICER (Winner)