How To Diagnose And Repair A Faulty Windshield Washer System

Construction & Contractors Articles

If your car's windshield washer isn't working properly, then you should take the time to diagnose and repair the problem. Windshield washers are valuable for cleaning dirty glass in a pinch and for also removing ice. For the most part, windshield washers are simple systems composed of a pump, tubing and spray nozzles. This will make your job easier as you seek out the cause of the trouble. Below is a list of materials you will need as well as a step-by-step list of instructions:

What you will need

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Straight pin

  • Household vinegar

  • Small bowl

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Distilled water

  • Grease-cutting liquid dish soap

Step-by-step procedure

1. Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir - The washer fluid reservoir is usually located near the front of the engine compartment, and it will often be constructed of translucent plastic for visualizing fluid levels. If you don't see any fluid through the sides of the tank, open the reservoir lid and take a look inside. If no fluid is visible through the top opening, then you will need to add fluid. You can purchase good quality fluid from any auto parts store or retail department store, but you can also mix your own fluid using a few simple ingredients. Simply combine one cup of rubbing alcohol with four cups of distilled water and one-half teaspoon of grease-cutting liquid dish soap, then pour the solution into an empty jug and swirl it gently to avoid making bubbles. It's best to use distilled water as regular tap water contains minerals that will eventually clog your windshield washer nozzle openings. Also, don't omit the alcohol as it will prevent the fluid from freezing and bursting your reservoir during winter.

Once you have filled the reservoir, activate the windshield washer again to see if anything happens. If there is still no fluid spraying from the nozzles, then move to the next step to check the pump.

2. Determine if the pump is operating - The next step in troubleshooting and repairing a malfunctioning windshield washer only requires your ears. Turn the ignition key to the 'on' position, but do not start the motor. Open your car's hood and position yourself close to the engine compartment; ask a helper to activate the windshield washer. If you hear a humming sound, then chances are good your washer's pump is still functioning and you can move on to the next step. However, if you hear no sound, then you will need to have your car checked out by a mechanic who may need to replace the pump.

3. Inspect and clean the windshield washer nozzles - As mentioned, non-distilled water can cause havoc by depositing minerals inside washer nozzles and block the flow after a period of time. It is possible your windshield washer nozzles are clogged with deposited minerals.

To correct the problem, carefully insert the pointed end of a straight pin into the nozzle openings. Do not push too deep or deviate from a straight path into the nozzles. Otherwise, you could puncture the nozzle body or tubing and be forced to purchase a new part. Gently push and pull the pin several times to dislodge any deposits.

Check the washer for proper functioning again, and if it still doesn't spray, there may be deposits that you can't reach with a pin. In that case, proceed to step 4 for further help.

4. Remove and deep clean the washer nozzles - It may be necessary to clean the nozzles by removing them and soaking them in vinegar. Begin by opening the hood to the car and locate where the nozzles penetrate the underside of the hood. You may need to remove some soundproofing insulation to gain access to the nozzles. Just be sure not to rip any of the insulation while handling it.

Once you find them, you will notice the nozzles are attached to tubing that leads to the pump. Gently pull on the tubing to remove it from the nozzles; you may need to twist the tubing to break it free. After the tubing is removed, find the nozzle clips that hold them in place. Squeeze the clips with a pair of needle nose pliers and push the nozzles up through the hood.

Next, fill a small bowl with household vinegar and drop the nozzles inside. Allow them to soak for at least half an hour, then remove them and use your straight pin to clear out the openings. Rinse the nozzles in running water and reinstall them in your car by clipping them to the hood and re-attaching the tubing.

If you still have questions after reading this article, you can click here to continue reading more about windshield repairs.

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24 September 2015

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