Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Windshield Washer Pump

Believe it or not, one of the easiest parts on every car, truck, or SUV to maintain is the windshield washer pump. Although many car owners experience problems with their windshield washer system at some point of owning their car, proper maintenance, using only windshield washer fluid, and replacing your washer nozzles when they wear can keep your washer pump running smoothly virtually forever. Sometimes it's difficult to do all of this, which can cause the windshield washer pump to wear out or fail completely.

The windshield washer pump is designed to suck windshield washer fluid from the reservoir, through the supply lines, to the spray nozzles and onto your windshield. When all of these components work in conjunction, they allow you to remove road grime, dirt, dust, pollen, mud, and bugs from your line of sight. The windshield washer pump is electronic and is subject to wear and tear over time. It can also be damaged by trying to spray washer fluid when the reservoir is empty. Washer fluid acts as coolant as it runs through the pump, so if you’re running it dry, there’s a chance that it will overheat and sustain damage.

There are a few warning signs that may indicate that a problem with your windshield washer pump exists and needs to be serviced or replaced by a certified mechanic in your area. Here are a few of these symptoms to be aware of that will indicate a potential problem with your washer pump exists.

1. Washer fluid does not spray evenly

When you pull back on the washer control arm or activate the washer fluid by pressing a button, the washer fluid is supposed to spray evenly onto your windshield. If this doesn't occur, it's most likely caused by one of two things:

  • A blockage inside the lines or nozzles
  • A washer pump that is not fully functional

Although the pump typically is an all-or-nothing system, there are some times when it will begin to slow the pressure or volume of washer fluid it can deliver when the pump begins to wear out. If you notice this symptom, it's recommended that you have a mechanic inspect your windshield washer pump and nozzles to verify what the problem is and repair it quickly.

2. No fluid sprays onto the windshield

If you have this problem, again, it's one of two things. First and most common is that the windshield washer fluid reservoir is empty or the pump is broken. There are some occasions where the problem might be with the washer nozzles, but if this occurs, you'll see washer fluid flowing from behind or beside the nozzle. It's recommended by automotive manufacturers to check your windshield washer fluid once per week. A good rule of thumb is to pop your hood and check the washer fluid at every gas fill up. If you're low on fluid, most gas stations sell a gallon of washer fluid that you can easily fill the reservoir.

By making sure the reservoir is always more than 50 percent full, the likelihood of having the pump wear out or burn out will significantly reduce.

3. Pump doesn’t engage when you activate the system

The washer pump makes a distinctive sound when you trigger the windshield washer fluid to spray onto your windshield. If you press the button and don't hear anything, and no fluid sprays onto your windshield, this indicates that the pump is broken or is not receiving electrical power. If this is the case, check the fuse that operates the washer pump to see if it has burnt out and replace if necessary. However, if the fuse is not the problem, you'll have to contact a local ASE certified mechanic to replace the windshield washer pump.

A properly functioning windshield washer pump is critical to driving safety and ensuring you have a clean windshield anytime you drive. If you notice any of the above warning signs, contact a local ASE certified mechanic through YourMechanic. Our professional mechanics are able to visit your home or office at your convenience.


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