Symptoms of Bad or Failing Windshield Washer Nozzles

A clean windshield is vital to safe operation of any vehicle. In order to keep your windshield clean and free of debris, many individual components work together to deliver windshield washer fluid from a storage tank to the window that can be cleaned by activating the windshield wipers. The delivery system that sprays fluid on our windshields is the windshield washer nozzles, which are attached to the wiper blades or on the hood of the car. Just like any other mechanical device, they can break or wear out over a period of time.

The washer nozzles on our cars, trucks, and SUVs are exposed to the elements on a daily basis. When it comes to wear and tear, the most common threat is exposure to direct sunlight, temperature fluctuations and extreme weather like snow, ice, and hail. However, there are several other issues that can clog them up or make the windshield washer nozzles completely inoperable.

Since a clean windshield is vital for safe driving, it's imperative to have a windshield wiper system that works perfectly and is available to clean your windshield at any moment while driving. If you have clogged or broken washer nozzles, this could create a safety concern.

There are a few warning signs that may alert you that a problem with your washer nozzles exists, so that you can have the nozzles repaired or replaced by a local ASE certified mechanic.

1. Washer nozzles only spray a little washer fluid

Most vehicles have their washer nozzles embedded on top of the hood of their car or are attached on the windshield wipers themselves. They are typically activated by pulling back on the windshield washer control arm, where a constant or pulsing amount of washer fluid is applied to the windshield. If the volume of washer fluid is less than usual, this is commonly an indication that washer fluid is low, the washer nozzles are plugged up with debris and need to be cleaned out, or that an obstruction exists in the hoses that transmit washer fluid from the storage tank to the nozzles.

If the nozzles need to be cleaned out, this can be done by using a metal probe to pull any debris from the nozzle. However, in most cases, this should be done by an experienced mechanic to avoid damage to the washer nozzle or replace the washer nozzle with new ones.

2. Mold in the washer fluid lines

Most windshield washer fluid lines are transparent, so that car owners can see if mold or other debris is trapped inside the lines. Some car owners make the common mistake of filling their windshield washer fluid reservoir with water instead of washer fluid. However, this typically causes mold to develop inside the lines and will restrict the flow of fluid available to wash the windows. When this occurs, it can burn the washer fluid pump, and lead to replacement of other components.

If mold develops in the lines, it's recommended to replace the lines, completely wash out the storage tank and replenish the reservoir with washer fluid only. Water inside a storage tank may also freeze and cause the tank to crack.

3. Fluid leaks around the washer nozzles

If you activate the spray nozzles and fluid appears to leak from the base of the washer nozzles, this is typically an indication that they are likely to break sooner rather than later. The reason they are leaking is commonly caused by a blockage in the nozzles, and fluid is being forced out of the back end of the nozzle. It's recommended to replace the washer nozzles if you notice this warning sign.

4. Physical damage to the washer nozzles

Since the washer nozzles are commonly exposed to the elements, physical damage can occur – especially caused by extended exposure to direct sunlight or extreme heat. The nozzles are commonly made out of hard rubber or plastic, which can warp when they get too hot. If you live in a hot climate area, have a local ASE certified mechanic inspect your wiper nozzles when you have the oil changed or other routine service.

Having fully functional washer nozzles is critical to your safety in maintaining a clean windshield. If you notice any of the above warning signs, please contact a local ASE certified mechanic to replace the washer nozzles and inspect your wiper system for any other damage that will ensure your system works smooth and efficient.


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