Windshield Washer Pumps Maintenance

Windshield Washer Pumps: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Replacement

Whatever vehicle you own, whether it is a Jeep or a classic Mustang, a windshield washer pump, or wiper motor, is one of those things that you don’t really appreciate until it stops working and you have to get it repaired. A windshield washer fluid pump and decent windshield wipers are a pretty important part of safe driving—without them it can become extremely hazardous. It keeps your view clear from all the dirt and grime that makes its way onto your windshield. If you’ve ever driven in misty rain, wintry ice and salt spray, or a dusty heat wave you know how much stuff can get onto the glass. It gets messy and sometimes it’s hard (if not impossible) to see clearly.

This is when you need your windshield washer pump to work the most. You’re driving along, barely able to see. So, you pull the windshield washer fluid lever and… nothing. After you get home safely, the next thing you need to do is figure out what the problem is. It just might be that your windshield washer pump is broken. If this is the case, replacing it a simple job that some amateur mechanics might be able to tackle on their own; but before you can fix it, you need to make sure you have the best windshield washer pump for your car.

Maintenance and Early Signs of Trouble

The job of a windshield washer pump is to move the fluid from the reservoir, through the hoses, into the nozzles, and onto the windshield. The pump is motorized. Anything with moving parts can eventually break over time and a windshield washer pump is no different. Before you jump to this conclusion, there are a few other things you need to check.


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With proper care, some windshield washer pumps can last for the life of the car, but they are susceptible to wear and tear. One of the main things you can do to maintain your windshield washer pump is to make sure the windshield washer fluid reservoir is always full. It’s a good idea to check every time you fill up your gas tank.

The washer fluid does more than just clean your windshield. It actually acts as a coolant for the pump’s motor. If you try to use the pump when it’s empty, it could damage the pump. And, of course, it’s also important to make sure that you always have adequate washer fluid to make sure you can see clearly and drive safely.

There are some early signs that you might have an impending problem with your windshield washer pump.

  • Nothing happens when you try to spray washer fluid – You’ve probably noticed you can hear the pump working when you trigger it to spray fluid. If you can’t hear it, it usually means your pump is completely broken or there is some kind of electrical problem.
  • The washer fluid doesn’t spray out like it’s supposed to – Washer fluid should cover your windshield evenly. If you have nozzles on the hood of your car, you can usually see the stream of washer fluid shooting out from both of them with an even amount of pressure and at the same angle. If one side is weaker or not spraying at all, it could mean a problem with the hoses, nozzles, or pump.
  • The washer fluid doesn’t spray out at all – This might mean that windshield washer pump reservoir is empty. If that’s not the case, it’s probably a broken hose or pump.

Simple Troubleshooting

  1. Check Washer Fluid. Make sure you have windshield washer fluid in the reservoir. Even if you recently refilled it, it’s possible that you used more than you realize. This can easily happen during a snowy winter when slush and salt are constantly being splashed onto your windshield. Or, you could possibly have a leak in the reservoir.
  2. Check the reservoir for dirt. If some sediment has settled in such a way that it’s preventing the fluid from being able to get through, all it might need is a cleaning to start working again.
  3. Check hoses. The hoses can also be a source of the problem if they have cracks or leaks that are preventing the fluid from making it up to the nozzles. If you find anything wrong with the reservoir or the hoses, replace them and try again. This could be a relatively simple fix to the problem.
  4. Check for electrical problems. If none of these things work, the next thing you could do is to check for electrical problems. Check the fuse and replace it if necessary. Alternatively, have your mechanic check it instead. If the electrical system all checks out, it might be time to replace your windshield washer pump.

Replacement

Replacing your windshield washer pump can be a little difficult, mostly because with some makes and models, it’s not all that easy to get to. You may need to remove your car battery, battery tray, and maybe even a tire or fender liner before you can access the reservoir and pump. If you feel comfortable doing this, there are a lot of resources available online to help you. If you don’t, you can certainly make an appointment with your mechanic.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much choice when it comes to choosing a replacement. Typically, you have to use the one that’s designed to fit the make and model of your car. There are some generic windshield washer pumps available and there are some that are certified replacement parts from various makes and models. How much of an investment you want to make is up to you, but even the certified replacement parts aren’t prohibitively expensive.

Seeing Clearly

If you’re having a problem, try our troubleshooting tips. If the problem persists, it’s time to look into it a bit further. Whatever the problem is, it’s important to get it resolves as soon as you can. While you might not need your windshield washer fluid every day, it’s not safe to drive without it. You never know when something will happen to obstruct your view. Remember, you won’t miss your windshield washer pump until the day you really need it.

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