How to Diagnose and Repair a Faulty Windshield Washer Pump

The role of your vehicle’s windshield washer pump is to take the washer fluid from the reservoir and circulate it through the tubes to the car’s windshield washer nozzles. The nozzles then spray the washer fluid on your car’s front or back windshield, allowing you to clean your vehicle’s windows quickly, especially when your vision is impaired by dirty streaks, debris, bird poop, or dead bugs.

If you are attempting to operate your car’s washer nozzles and nothing is happening, the likely cause is you may simply be out of fluid. However, it is also common for the nozzles to get clogged and occasionally a vehicle may even have a failed washer pump. Here are ways to help clean out a vehicle’s clogged windshield washer nozzle and tubes, as well as diagnose a faulty windshield washer pump.

Part 1 of 2: Inspecting for tubing leaks and clogged nozzles

Materials Needed

Step 1: Prepare the vehicle. Park your car on level ground. Then turn the key to the ON position, but do not actually start the vehicle.

mounted window washer reservoir

Step 2: Find the washer reservoir. Open the vehicle hood, prop it up, and locate the washer reservoir.

hand holding cap to washer reservoir

Step 3: Open the reservoir cap and take a peek inside. If the reservoir is empty, pour some of the windshield washer fluid inside and test the nozzles a few times to see if that allows them to work.

Step 4: Place a hand on the reservoir and test the nozzles again. If there is fluid in the reservoir and the nozzles are still unable to spray it onto the windshield, try placing your hand on the reservoir while a friend operates the washer nozzles.

Feel and listen for the washer pump to operate.

washing system leak

Step 5: Inspect the vehicle. If you can feel or hear the pump working, take a look around the vehicle.

Take note of the ground and try to locate any puddles of water. Finding one likely indicates a leak. If no puddles are located, then you may be dealing with a weak washer pump or clogged nozzles

arrow pointing to leak in tubing

Step 6: Locate the source of the leak and replace the tubing if needed. Replacing the tubing for the nozzles involves slipping off the connectors so they can be cut to size.

  • Tip: Be sure to bring the damaged hose to your local parts store as this will allow you to get the correct tubing diameter for the replacement.

hand inserting sewing needle to unclog it

Step 7: Unclog the washer nozzles if needed. Clogged nozzles can be remedied with a sewing needle.

Slide one side of the needle into the holes of the washer nozzles to clear the clog and repeat as necessary. Retry the car’s nozzles again to see if this improved the stream of water.

Part 2 of 2: Inspecting the windshield washer pump fuse

If during this inspection you have not been able to see or hear the windshield washer pump turn on, then your next step is to locate and check the pump’s fuse.

power distributor center

Step 1: Locate the washer pump fuse. Using your owner's manual, locate the fuse for the washer pump.

illuminated test light

Step 2: Test the fuse with the test light. Attach the clip of the text light to any bare metal surface on the car. This will ground the test light.

Have a friend activate the washer nozzles while you touch both sides of the fuse with the test light. If the fuse is good, the test light will illuminate on both posts of the fuse.

person removing defective fuse

Step 3: Replace the defective fuse as needed. If there is no power, remove, inspect, and replace the fuse if necessary with an appropriate replacement fuse. Test the nozzles once more.

washer pump and electrical connector

Step 4: Test the washer pump itself. If there is power at the fuse yet still no spray from the nozzle, it is time to go back to the washer reservoir.

Locate the washer pump at the bottom of the reservoir. Attach the test light clip again, have a friend activate the washer nozzles, and proceed to probe the back of the connector on the washer pump.

When the nozzles are activated, the test light should indicate power on one of the two wires. If power is verified, then it confirms that the washer pump motor itself is indeed not working and may need to be replaced.

You can tackle this repair on your own, or, if you are not comfortable with this task, have a qualified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, perform it for you. Most repairs done by professionals come with the peace of a mind of a warranty.


Next Step

Schedule Windshield Washer Pump Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Windshield Washer Pump Replacement. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Windshield Washer Pump Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

(191)

Rating Summary
183
6
2
0
0
183
6
2
0
0

TJ

26 years of experience
362 reviews
TJ
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Malibu L4-1.5L Turbo - Windshield Washer Pump Replacement (Front) - Punta Gorda, Florida
Great job. Tough to get to part location. Good diagnosis and timely repair. Would highly recommend TJ to anyone that needs as good mechanic.
Chevrolet Corvette - Windshield Washer Pump Replacement (Front) - Punta Gorda, Florida
Prompt friendly capable experienced, that says it all. Fair price and good price I felt for at home service.

James

41 years of experience
101 reviews
James
41 years of experience
Chevrolet Malibu L4-1.5L Turbo - Windshield Washer Pump Replacement (Front) - Hudson, Ohio
Original quote was about $160, which included 1 hours of labor cost. James showed me the standard was actually 2 hours, which resulted in a charge of $285 for the windshield washer pump replacement. So, you may want to check your quoting system. James performed the pump replacement efficiently. The windshield washer worked as expected. Appreciated the convenience of having the work performed in front of my home garage.

Andrew

15 years of experience
499 reviews
Andrew
15 years of experience
Ford Escape L4-2.3L - Windshield Washer Pump Replacement (Front) - Portland, Oregon
This was my first time using Your Mechanic. I don't think I'll ever take my car to a shop again! Andrew arrived early for the appointment. They sent a tracker to my phone so I could see where he was at while en route. He was super friendly and knocked the job out quicker than I have ever seen anyone work on a car before. I had him replacing a windshield fluid pump requiring him to take the front tire off and getting behind the wheel well. He finished the job in about 20 minutes, cleaned up and was out of there. Super impressed and will definitely use this service again and again.

Lee

38 years of experience
217 reviews
Lee
38 years of experience
Chevrolet El Camino V8-6.5L - Windshield Washer Pump Replacement (Front) - Edmond, Oklahoma
He actually got here early which was much appreciated. He went to a lot of trouble to fix the problem which wasn't immediately apparent.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Find and Repair a Brake Fluid Leak
The vast majority of passenger vehicles on the road today use hydraulic brake systems to operate their brakes. Most braking...
How to Flush Your Power Steering System
Modern Modern cars are equipped with power steering (https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/how-does-power-steering-impact-a-vehicle-s-handling) which helps the driver easily steer the car by turning the wheel gently. Older cars do not have power steering and you had to use much more effort to turn the...
How to Show a Teenager Basic Car Maintenance
Teaching Teaching a teen how to perform simple car maintenance gives them knowledge they can use for a lifetime. And while more complex tasks are probably over their ability level, teens should have no problem performing tasks such as checking...

Related questions

Rough shifting when I hit Third gear
A transmission does a lot of work propelling the car forward. Things that need to be checked are the fluid level and condition, which can be checked via the transmission dipstick. The fluid should be reddish color and read full...
Water leak, don't know where
If your engine has no external coolant leaks, and is still requiring you to put water in the radiator, that water is leaking internally inside the engine. But before jumping to that conclusion, a cooling system pressure test should be...
Power steering quit working - 1991 Cadillac Fleetwood
Hi! I'd take a look to be sure the power steering belt is still there. With the engine running, you should be able to see the p/s pump pulley turning. The reservoir should be filled to the full mark. Listen...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com