Driving a car without a functional windscreen washer system can be extremely dangerous, especially when the roads are wet. That means fixing it as soon as possible should be your best interest to avoid increasing the likelihood of an accident. Luckily, most of the fixes are fairly cheap, and some of them you can do yourself.
If your wiper fluid is not spraying after refill, it could mean the wiper fluid reservoir is cracked, the wiper fluid hoses are frozen or broken, the wiper fluid nozzles may be clogged, or the wiper fluid pump is not working. Also, you may have put the wiper fluid into the coolant reservoir.
What Causes Wiper Fluid to Not Spray After Refill
If your wiper fluid is not spraying after refill, there are several potential causes, all of which are possible if you haven’t been using the washers for a couple of weeks or months. However, if the wiper fluid stopped spraying right after you refilled it, the only two things that could be the cause is that you put the wiper fluid into the wrong reservoir or that the hoses are frozen if it’s cold outside. Of course, all other causes can happen at any time, but the chances of them happening right before you refill the wiper fluid are low.
Cracked Wiper Fluid Reservoir
It’s not uncommon for the wiper fluid reservoir to crack, especially in older cars or if you are missing a wheel arch/wing lining. With a crack in the reservoir, the new wiper fluid you just refilled will quickly drain and create a puddle under the car.
If that’s the case, the wiper fluid will spray for maybe a couple of minutes after the refill, depending on the size of the crack or hole. You can easily check if that’s the case by refilling the reservoir and leaving the car to sit for half an hour and checking if there is a puddle under it, or if the reservoir is visible, check if it’s still full.
You Put Wiper Fluid in the Wrong Reservoir
Hopefully, this isn’t what happened because fixing it can be expensive. Still, it can happen that inexperienced drivers put wiper fluid in the coolant reservoir because both are easily accessible and sometimes the wiper is the same color as the coolant.
To check if that’s happened, open your owner’s manual, where you will find both coolant and wiper fluid refill instructions with illustrations. After that, it will be easy to figure out if you put wiper fluid in the coolant expansion tank or not.
Wiper Fluid Hoses are Frozen
Wiper fluids have freeze ratings just like engine coolant, and when the temperatures drop, it’s not uncommon for the wiper fluid to freeze if it was diluted with water or if the freeze rating wasn’t good enough. Naturally, when that happens, the wiper fluid won’t spray because it can’t pass through hoses with frozen fluid inside. So, if your wiper fluid is not spraying after a refill in cold weather, this is most likely the problem.
Clogged Wiper Fluid Nozzles
The hoses in the wiper fluid system are pretty wide, making it difficult for them to clog. However, the wiper fluid nozzles that sit on the hood have a tiny, roughly millimeter-wide hole. Because of the nozzle size, it’s extremely common for them to clog, and the wiper fluid pump never builds enough pressure to unclog them. A clogged nozzle is also the only possible cause if your wiper fluid is not coming out on one side only.
Wiper Fluid Pump is Not Working
The wiper fluid pump isn’t a common problem on any vehicle; however, it’s still a mechanical part that will fail eventually as time goes by. To check if the pump is broken, have someone pull the wiper fluid stalk while you bring your ears close to the wiper fluid reservoir and listen if you hear buzzing or whirring. The buzzing is the wiper fluid pump working, and if you don’t hear anything, either the pump is broken or the pump fuse is blown.
Broken Wiper Fluid Hoses
Next, the wiper fluid hoses and plastic connectors/conjunctions can all become brittle with time and break. When that happens, the wiper fluid will escape through those cracks because it requires less pressure than it does to go through the windshield washer nozzle. Also, with broken hoses, you won’t notice a puddle under the car because wiper fluid will be leaking only when you pull the stalk.
To check if that’s the case, have someone pull the wiper fluid stalk while you look for leaks in the engine bay. The wiper fluid will squirt out at high pressure making it very hard to miss.
How To Fix Wiper Fluid Not Spraying After Refill
Now that we know what can cause the wiper fluid not to spray, the symptoms of each cause, and how to diagnose them, let’s dive into all the fixes.
Cracked Wiper Fluid Reservoir – Fixes
If your wiper fluid reservoir is cracked, you have two options, one is to fix it, and the second is to replace it. If you want to replace the reservoir, the easiest thing you can do is buy a new one from the dealer, but that will most likely be ridiculously expensive.
As an alternative, you can buy a replacement part on Amazon or eBay for much less money, and since the reservoir is nothing more than a piece of plastic, there shouldn’t be any quality issues. And last, and probably the best option, is to find a clean, used reservoir from a crashed car or something similar. That way, you are getting an OEM part dirt cheap, and those reservoirs usually last a lifetime unless they are damaged.
And lastly, you can patch your cracked reservoir fairly easily. There are a lot of good plastic welder kits like Permatex. And mind you; there is no actual welding with them because they are nothing more than structural glue.
You Put Wiper Fluid In the Wrong Reservoir – Fixes
In case you are certain you have put wiper fluid into the coolant reservoir, you should preferably stop driving your car immediately. However, if you must keep driving, make sure you stop at the first auto repair shop. There, they will flush the coolant and replace it with a new one. Wiper fluid evaporates much easier than coolant and can air-lock the cooling system resulting in an overheating engine or, worse, a destroyed engine.
Wiper Fluid Hoses are Frozen – Fixes
Usually, the wiper fluid hoses will thaw after a long drive because of engine heat, especially during a longer city drive with a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Also, there is no harm in leaving the hoses frozen and waiting for a warmer day until they thaw naturally.
But if you are in a hurry, you can try using a hair dryer to thaw the fluid; however, you will have to cover all the hoses, and it will take at least an hour to do. Also, after the fluid thaws, check the freezing temperature on the new wiper fluid and make sure it’s not higher than the lowest temperatures in your area.
Clogged Wiper Fluid Nozzles – Fixes
To unclog the wiper fluid nozzles, all you need to do is visit your local auto repair shop, where they can do it in a couple of minutes. But if you have an air compressor at home, you can do it yourself. To unclog them, take an air compressor gun/air blow gun and blow into each nozzle. You might also get away with using a compressed air can, but I can’t guarantee how effective it will be.
Wiper Fluid Pump Is Not Working – Fixes
If you can’t hear any buzzing or whirring coming from the wiper fluid reservoir when you pull the wiper fluid stalk, the first thing you should check is the fuses. Take your owner’s manual, find the fuse diagram, and search for the wiper fluid fuse.
Then, replace it if it’s blown, and if not, you will have to replace the wiper fluid pump. Luckily wiper fluid pumps are mostly universal, and you can find new ones for just over ten bucks; plus, they are fairly easy to replace.
Broken Wiper Fluid Hoses – Fixes
Fixing broken wiper fluid hoses may be the easiest thing on this list. Simply remove the broken hose and take it to a hardware store to find a new one. Also, you can find all the plastic connectors you might need at the same hardware store, and if you were to replace all hoses and connectors, the total cost would hardly cross $10.
Q: Why is my windshield wiper fluid not spraying fully?
If your windshield wiper fluid is not spraying fully or only one of the nozzles is working, it’s because the nozzles are clogged. You can solve this by blowing compressed air into the nozzles.
Q: How do you unclog a windshield wiper fluid dispenser?
To unclog a windshield wiper fluid dispenser or nozzles, you should blow some compressed air into them. The most effective way is to use an air compressor with an air blow gun.
Q: How do I get my windshield wipers to spray water?
If you want to put water into the wiper fluid reservoir, you can do that without any modifications, but the water can freeze if the temperatures are low. But if the wiper fluid isn’t coming out, it could be clogged nozzles, broken hoses, frozen hoses, or a blown wiper fluid hose.
Q: Can you put water in your windshield wiper fluid container?
Yes, you can put water in your windshield wiper fluid container, but you shouldn’t. Water can easily freeze and disable the wiper washers, while wiper fluid freezes at a temperature well below zero.
Q: Do I need to dilute the wiper fluid?
Whether you need to dilute the wiper fluid depends on the type you buy. Some wiper fluids are concentrated and need to be diluted with water to avoid damaging the pump and hoses, while other wiper fluids come pre-diluted.
Q: Can I use Windex as windshield wiper fluid?
Technically, yes, you can use Windex as windshield wiper fluid, but it’s not recommended. Windex is much more abrasive and can damage the wiper fluid hoses and the pump.
Q: Is windshield wiper fluid just water and soap?
No, windshield wiper fluid isn’t just water and soap because it also contains some antifreeze to drop its freezing point below zero and avoid disabling the system at those temperatures.
So, if your wiper isn’t spraying right after you have refilled it, but it worked previously, it could mean that you have put the wiper fluid into the coolant reservoir. Another possibility is that the old wiper fluid in the hooses is frozen, but that’s only possible if outside temperatures are low.
Other than that, the wiper fluid hoses could be broken, the wiper fluid pump could be faulty, or its fuse could be blown. Lastly, you could be looking at clogged wiper fluid nozzles or a cracked wiper fluid reservoir.