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How To Repair a Bad Windshield Washer

Windshield Wiper System

In our forums, user nrob02 has issues with his 2005 Buick Envoy and its windshield washer system. He's assuming it's the pump that's bad, but there could be several problems that aren't necessarily a bad pump. This is a common problem, as we've seen in our forum before.

Diagnosis of the windshield washer system requires understanding the basic components of the system first. They are the reservoir, the pump, the hoses, and the nozzles. The reservoir holds the fluid, the pump pulls the fluid out and sends it through the hoses to the nozzles where it sprays onto the window. If any one of these major components has a problem, the whole system stops working.

The pump, being electronic, has its own system as well. It's controlled by a relay that is activated by the washer button/knob on the steering wheel or dash. This system receives power from the car, which will also have a fuse and other devices in play.

The simplest task is to check the system from the easiest test point to the most difficult. Open the hood and check the fluid reservoir to be sure it is full or nearly full. Run the washer fluid control and listen for the pump. If you can hear the pump, you know the pump is at least activating. If so, then you know that the problem is not likely the fluid level or the pump itself. Check the tubing. If there is fluid running through it (or if they are full when the pump is activated) then you likely have a clog at the nozzles. Clean the nozzles with a toothbrush and soapy water and a small pin. Try again.

If you're activating the pump and fluid is squirting under the hood instead of at the nozzles, you have a hose leak. Find the leak and replace that hose.

If the pump isn't operating, check its circuits. Start with the fuse. Test the circuit for continuity. Give power directly to the pump (usually 12V from the battery will work) and see if it operates independently. If not, replace the pump.

Most of the time, these diagnostic steps will find your problem.