Clogged Windshield Washer – What To Do?

Being able to see clearly through your windshield while driving is a significant safety concern for every driver on the road. However, sometimes when you're driving, the windshield gets dirty, and your ability to see the road in front of you becomes impaired. You can use your vehicle's windshield washer fluid to solve this problem quickly. Unfortunately, this system is susceptible to clogging. When your windshield washer fluid stops working, what do you do?

You can unclog your windshield wipers in a few easy steps as this issue is a lot simpler to troubleshoot and fix than most people realize. Follow these steps to troubleshoot your clogged windshield washers:

  • Check the nozzles for apparent signs of blockage
  • Inspect the lines for broken or damaged pieces and leaks
  • Make sure that your windshield washer fluid reservoir has fluid in it and that the fluid is not frozen or full of debris

Locating the clog is the first step to solving the problem of clogged windshield washers, but how do you go about solving that problem once you know where it is? We have researched each component of the windshield washer system and have the answers for you. Keep reading to learn how to solve your clogged windshield washer problems. 


Clogged windshield washer nozzles in the car, Clogged Windshield Washer - What To Do?

Windshield Washer Nozzles and Hoses

Windshield washer hoses and nozzles are crucial components to your windshield washer system. The hoses transport windshield washer fluid from your reservoir to the nozzles. Windshield washer fluid sprays out of the nozzles and onto your windshield. When dealing with a potential clog, check these components first.

Clean Or Replace The Nozzles

The nozzles, or jets, of your windshield washer system are usually the only component that faces exposure to the elements. Due to this exposure, the nozzles are susceptible to becoming clogged by various types of debris. You can easily unclog the nozzles by following these steps:

  1. Check the nozzles for obvious signs of blockage, and clear away anything that is covering the nozzle.
  2. If the nozzle is still clogged, try using a pin to clear a clog within the nozzle. Carefully use a pin to clear or remove a clog within the hole of each nozzle.
  3. Use a piece of wire to clear clogs that are too deep inside the nozzle to remove with a pin. Disconnect the hose from the nozzle and run a piece of wire through the jet in the direction that fluid would travel.

Sometimes nozzles are extremely difficult to unclog. You can remove the nozzle and soak it in vinegar to clear stubborn blockages or you can purchase new nozzles and install them on your vehicle.

Clean Or Replace The Hoses

The hoses, which are also called lines, are another place that may experience clogs within the windshield washer system. Windshield washer fluid from the reservoir is pumped through hoses to the nozzles. Breakage, pinholes, or kinks in these hoses could result in fluid being unable to reach the nozzles. Inspecting your hoses is easy:

  1. Start at either the reservoir or the nozzles and work your way to the other end. As you follow the hose, make sure that the entire hose is in good condition. There should be no breaks, cracks, obvious leaks, chaffing, or kinked sections.
  2. Once you have determined that the hoses are undamaged, you can try clearing any blockages by using compressed air. Disconnect the hoses from the nozzles and reservoir, and use an air compressor to force air through the hose.

Compressed air will be able to make it through an unclogged hose. Reattach the unclogged hose to the nozzles and reservoir. If you can't clear the hose with compressed air, you will need to replace your hoses.

How Do You Aim A Windshield Washer Nozzle?

Ineffectively aimed windshield washer nozzles will have an impact on how well they get fluid onto the windshield. Adjusting the aim of the nozzles is a simple task.

  1. Determine if the nozzles are aimed too high or too low by watching where the fluid hits the windshield.
  2. Use a pin to adjust the aim of the nozzles. Gently insert the pin into the hole where the fluid comes out and adjust it up or down accordingly. The nozzle should move easily, so don't force it.
  3. Test the aim of the nozzles by watching where the fluid hits the windshield when you turn on the windshield washer.
  4. Repeat the process to make additional adjustments until the nozzles are aimed correctly.

Windshield Washer Fluid Reservoir

The windshield washer fluid reservoir is a crucial component of your windshield washer system. The reservoir is the component that contains the windshield washer fluid. From there, a pump moves the fluid through the hoses and up to the nozzles. If you are experiencing clogged windshield washers, the reservoir may be the issue.

How Do You Unfreeze A Windshield Washer Reservoir?

Winter weather and cold temperatures can be hard on vehicles. Consequently, there's a lot to look out for between freezing windshields and snow accumulation.

Read more: How To Keep The Windshield From Freezing While Driving

One thing many people don't think about is that the fluid in the windshield washer fluid can freeze. You can unfreeze a frozen windshield washer reservoir in a few different ways.

You can prevent this situation entirely by using windshield washer fluid that doesn't freeze. There are also alcohol-based solutions that will work to unfreeze your windshield in addition to staying unfrozen in the reservoir.

There are a few easy ways to unfreeze a frozen reservoir:

  1. You can add winter-specific fluid to the frozen reservoir if there is room. The addition of fluid with a higher concentration of anti-freeze may work to dethaw the frozen fluid.
  2. Try moving the vehicle into a garage that is warmer than the outside. The warmer indoor temperature may be enough to defrost the frozen reservoir.
  3. Use a hair dryer or heating pad to warm the reservoir up enough to melt the fluid.
  4. Remove the reservoir from the vehicle and bring it inside to dethaw.

Do not use hot water to dethaw your reservoir. Spraying hot water onto a frozen windshield causes a very abrupt temperature change, and this may result in a cracked windshield.

Is There A Way To Drain Windshield Washer Fluid?

Windshield washer fluid that is dirty or contaminated should be drained and replaced. To drain your windshield washer fluid reservoir, take off the cap on the top of the reservoir. Then, find the plug on the underside of the reservoir. Place a container under the plug to catch the fluid that will be coming out. Next, using some pliers, remove the plug from the bottom of the reservoir. Once you remove the plug, the fluid will drain out through the drain hole.

How Do You Clean A Windshield Washer Reservoir?

Cleaning a windshield washer reservoir isn't something you should have to do often, if ever. However, sometimes it's necessary to remove calcium buildup or other debris.

After you have fully drained the reservoir, rinse it out with a garden hose. Use a toothbrush, or other small brush, to scrub the inside, if needed. To finish the job, reinstall the bottom plug in the reservoir. Next, fill it with new windshield washer fluid, and close the reservoir's top cap.

Windshield Washer Fluid Pump

Finally, let's talk about the windshield washer pump, which is an electrically powered pump that draws the fluid from the reservoir and sends it up the hoses to the nozzles. When your pump stops working, nothing is working to move the windshield washer fluid.

How Do I Know If My Windshield Washer Pump Is Bad?

Sometimes the issue with the windshield washer system is that the pump has failed. But how do you find out if this is the issue? You don't need to be a trained mechanic to diagnose this problem.

Start by trying to run your windshield washer. Listen for the humming sound of the pump running. You may need to open the hood to hear it. Not hearing the pump usually means one of two things. Either the pump has failed and needs replacement, or there's an issue with the electrical system that operates the pump. Keep in mind that both of these situations could be happening simultaneously.

Where Is The Windshield Washer Pump Fuse Located?

To rule out a bad pump, you have to determine if you have an electrical issue. Your pump may be okay and the problem is simply a bad fuse or chaffed wire. To check the fuse for the pump, you will first need to locate the fuse box inside your engine compartment. If you are not sure where to look, check your owner's manual. In most vehicles, this fuse box is on the driver's side of the engine compartment.

Once you have located the fuse box, refer to the diagram that maps out the fuses in the fuse box to find the windshield washer pump fuse. Remove the fuse and test its continuity using a multimeter. Another way to find out if the fuse is bad is to swap it with a fuse that you know is good.

If the pump still does not work after swapping the fuse or confirming the continuity of the original fuse, you may want to consider taking your vehicle to a qualified mechanic for further diagnostic.

Working on your vehicle's electrical system can be challenging and often requires special electrical tools. There is also a chance that you could do further damage to your vehicle's electrical system.

In Closing

We hope this guide has helped you solve the issue of a clogged windshield washer! The next step to improved driving visibility is to check out our post on how to keep the inside of your windshield clean.

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