The windshield washer system is very reliable and rarely breaks. But when it does, it is important to know how to deal with it.

There can be many reasons why your windshield washer fluid won’t come out. But the most common reason is a cracked or clogged hose, which either decreases the fluid coming through or stops it completely.

We’ll provide not only information on why your washer fluid won’t come out but also a detailed guide on how to fix it.

Fluid Reservoir Is Empty

If your windshield washer fluid doesn’t come out, this is the first thing to check as many often forget about their fluid level.

On most cars, it’s a transparent reservoir located at the back of the engine bay, it would usually have a bright-colored plastic cap with a windshield image engraved on it.

If you can’t find it, check your owner’s manual. Your reservoir could be empty because of a human error or a leakage in the washer hose or the reservoir itself, so make sure to check that too.

Fix: Refill The Fluid Reservoir 

  • Fill your reservoir with proper washer fluid. NOT water. Tap water often contains impurities that can clog up the nozzles and will freeze in cold temperatures. It doesn’t matter which climate you live in, cold or warm, using tap water is not a good idea and should be your last resort. 
  • Once you’ve poured in washer fluid, wait about 10 seconds for it to kick in, if nothing comes out, don’t continue trying. Check if the reservoir, nozzles, and tubbing are fine, as running the pump without fluid for too long can damage it. 
  • If everything seems fine but still nothing comes out, check other things we’ve listed below.

Washer Fluid Froze 

Your washer fluid can freeze in cold temperatures either because:

  • You’ve been using summer rated windshield washer fluid
  • You’ve been using tap water as a washer fluid

You could’ve accidentally left summer rated windshield wiper fluid in your reservoir or have been using tap water as your wiper fluid. Either way, it can’t stay this way and needs to be fixed. Luckily it’s not that difficult.

Note: Keep in mind that the fluid can freeze not only in the reservoir but in the hose and the nozzles as well.

Related: Does a Car Battery Drain Faster In Cold?

Fix: Multiple Methods

  • Keep your engine running for it to melt, this can take anywhere from 5 minutes, to several hours depending on how cold it is
  • Put your car inside a warm garage and wait for the ice to melt.
  • Pour hot water on the sides of the reservoir

Once it melts, remove the reservoir and dump your summer fluid/water out. Now your windshield washer pump should be able to pump again.

Tip: Don’t forget to seasonal change your windshield wiper fluid, or use an all-season one made with a low freezing point. This way it won’t freeze on you

Fluid Is Dirty

When your windshield wiper fluid is dirty, which is often the case for those who used tap water instead of proper wiper fluid. Nozzles can get clogged up or cause scratches on the windshield because tap water contains a lot of impurities. 

One of the first signs of dirty washer fluid is when 

  • Fluid flows unevenly from the nozzles
  • Fluid quantity is reduced

Note: Your fluid reservoir isn’t the only thing that can be dirty, as debris will flow from the reservoir via hoses, to the nozzles. Clogging them along the way. This should be left to the mechanic, but you can try to fix it yourself.

You may be asking, but how am I supposed to know which one is dirty and needs cleaning? Reservoir? Hoses? Nozzles? Well, here’s how you know:

ReservoirYou can see debris in the reservoir, or when spraying out the fluid.  
HoseUnplug the hose from the nozzle, and spray fluid. If it seems sluggish/uneven/ your Hose could be at fault. Although don’t ignore the possibility of the hose having a crack in them, causing them to leak and give sluggish/uneven performance. 
NozzlesUnplug the hose from the nozzle, If water passes through the hose just fine and you can hear your pump working, your nozzles could be at blame.

Fix: 1: Clean The Reservoir

  • Empty your reservoir
  • Flush with water to remove remaining debris in the reservoir
  • Pour in the proper windshield wiper fluid.

Fix 2: Replace The Hose

Note: A replacement is a more viable option because the hose is inexpensive. But if you want, you can still clean it using compressed air. But make sure your hose isn’t cracked and doesn’t leak.

Note: It can be required to dismount some things to get access to the hose.

  • Locate the windshield washer hose. It should be located in the engine compartment, connected to the pump and nozzles. 
  • Gently pull off the hose connected to the pump by hand.
  • Remove the hood insulator retainers near the nozzle area by popping them out with a small flathead screwdriver. Then pull that section of the insulator back.
  • Gently pull off both (or one, depending on what car you have) of the hose connected to the nozzles by hand.
  • Pull the hose from the retainer clips, each car has different clip mechanisms, so a screwdriver may be needed.
  • Remove the hose
  • Gently attach the new hose to the nozzles first.
  • Put the hose back into its retainers.
  • Reinstall the hood insulator and secure it in place by pressing the retaining clips back into place
  • Gently push the hose back onto the pump.

Fix 3: Clean The Nozzles

  • Using a can of condensed air, blow a concentrated stream of air into the nozzle and remove the debris.
  • If that didn’t work, use a needle to poke through the hole opening.
  • You can also use an old toothbrush and some warm water to clean your nozzles. Dip the brush in warm water and vigorously scrub in and around the nozzle to free any dirt and debris that may be causing the clog.

Blown Fuse

The fuse that controls your windshield washer pump could be blown. Firstly, you will first need to find the appropriate fuse box and determine which one is the response for the operation of the washer.  It will be separate from the wiper fuse on most vehicles.

Many times the lid to the box will have the fuse identification map on it. If you can’t find the location, check the owner’s manual of your vehicle. You can diagnose the fuse either visually or experimentally:

VisuallyIf you look at the fuse and it looks like its silver piece has split in half, it’s faulty. 
ExperimentallyIf you’re unsure whether your fuse is faulty, you can replace it and see if the problem goes away.

If you have determined your fuse is faulty, it’s time to fix it. Luckily, it’s a very easy job and shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.

Fix: Replace The Fuse

  • Carefully remove the fuse with a fuse puller. Sometimes there can even be a tool to remove fuses on the box lid.
  • Replace it with a new fuse with the same amperage rating.
  • If washers still don’t work after replacement (if the fuse was at fault), or if the fuse blows again, your car might have a serious problem that needs to be diagnosed. 

Faulty Windshield Washer Pump

Your windshield washer pump could be worn/burned out. The leading cause for a faulty washer pump is:

  • You let your pump run dry without fluid, which will cause it to overheat and fail.
  • Water gets on the pump’s contacts, it can oxidize and causes the washer pump to stop working. If there are traces of rust on the terminals or contacts, clean them.
  • Old age

If you’ve verified that the fluid/fuse is okay, but when you turn on your washers nothing comes out and you can’t hear your pump working. Then you most likely have a faulty pump.

The washer pump can be hard to access as it can be in hard to reach places and obstructed, requiring you to disassemble parts to get it out. So if you don’t want to deal with that, you could always visit a mechanic, but you can still do it yourself if you want.

We’ll be using the yourmechanic.com pump replacement guide

Fix: Replace the pump (If your car is made before 1996)

  • Locate the washer fluid reservoir. Then remove the bolts that secure the washer reservoir to the fender/body of the vehicle.
  • Remove connectors to the washer pump. If there is a harness plug on the washer pump, remove the plug. If there isn’t, use side cutters and cut the wires
  • Remove the washer fluid line from the reservoir. If there is a clamp, use need needle nose pliers to remove the clamp and line
  • Take out the washer reservoir, then remove the washer pump from the reservoir 
  • Install the new washer pump into the washer reservoir.
  • Place the washer reservoir back into the compartment.
  • Plug in the harness to the washer pump. If you had to cut the wires, you will need to strip the wires to the harness and to the pump with a wire stripper. Insert two butt connectors with heat shrink tubing and crimp the wires to the butt connectors.
  • Install the washer fluid line to the reservoir. If you had to remove the clamp, you will need to use needle-nosed pliers to install the clamp and line.
  • Pour the fluid into the washer reservoir.
  • Check the bottom of the reservoir where the pump is with a flashlight to see if any washer fluid is leaking out.

Fix: Replace the pump (If your car is made after 1996)

Disconnect your battery by taking the ground cable off the battery’s negative terminal. 

Replacing the washer pump If it is located in the upper engine compartment along the fender:

  1. Remove the reservoir bolts. 
  2. Remove the harness plug 
  3. Remove the washer fluid line from the reservoir (and clamp, if present) with needle-nosed pliers 
  4. Remove the washer pump from the reservoir. 
  5. Clean the contacts. 
  6. Install the new washer pump into the washer reservoir.
  7. Reinstall the washer reservoir and secure it with the bolts you removed.
  8. Plug in the harness to the washer pump.
  9. Reinstall the washer fluid line to the reservoir (and clamp. if removed) with needle-nose pliers 
  10. Fill the reservoir with washer fluid if needed
  11.  Reconnect the battery.

Replacing the washer pump if it is located in the wheel well or lower fender under the vehicle:

  1. Raise the vehicle with a floor jack on the side with the washer pump
  2. Loosen the wheel lug nuts.
  3. Remove the tire and wheel from the fender. Sometimes removing the inner fender is required to access the washer pump
  4. Remove the bolts that secure the washer reservoir
  5. Remove the harness plug connected to the washer pump.
  6. Remove the washer fluid line from the reservoir (and clamp if present) with needle-nosed pliers.
  7. Remove the washer pump from the reservoir.
  8. Clean the contacts.
  9. Install the new washer pump into the washer reservoir.
  10. Reinstall the washer reservoir and secure it with the bolts you removed.
  11. Plug in the harness to the washer pump.
  12. Reinstall the washer fluid line to the reservoir (and clamp. if removed) with needle-nose pliers 
  13. Fill the reservoir with washer fluid if needed
  14. Put the tire and wheel onto the wheel studs. Put on the lug nuts and use a tire iron to spin on the lug nuts hand tight.
  15. Remove the jack
  16. Tighten the lug nuts
  17. Reconnect the battery

Clogged/Damaged Hose

There could be many things wrong with your windshield washer tubing, it can be:

  • Leaking
  • Clogged
  • etc,

A leaking hose is not a nice situation to be in, as you don’t know it’s happening until you inspect the hose or its surrounding area. it can also get clogged up with debris preventing the fluid from coming out.

To check, remove the hose from the nozzle and activate the washer fluid:

  • If there is fluid on the outside of your hose then it is cracked and leaking.
  • If fluid came out very sluggish your hose is probably clogged,
  • if it didn’t come out at all, you might have some other issues, check everything we’ve until this point.

If your hose is clogged you can use compressed air to clean it, but if it’s cracked and leaking, you have no other choice than to replace it, Luckily, hoses are inexpensive and it is quite easy to replace them.

Fix: Replace The Hose

Note: A replacement is a more viable option because the hose is inexpensive. But if you want, you can still clean it using compressed air. But make sure your hose doesn’t leak.

Note: It can be required to dismount some things to get access to the hose.

  • Locate the windshield washer hose. It should be located in the engine compartment, connected to the pump and nozzles. 
  • Gently pull off the hose connected to the pump by hand.
  • Remove the hood insulator retainers near the nozzle area by popping them out with a small flathead screwdriver. Then pull that section of the insulator back.
  • Gently pull off both (or one, depending on what car you have) of the hoses connected to the nozzles by hand.
  • Pull the hose from the retainer clips, each car has different clip mechanisms, so a screwdriver may be needed.
  • Remove the hose
  • Gently attach the new hose to the nozzles first.
  • Put the hose back into its retainers.
  • Reinstall the hood insulator and secure it in place by pressing the retaining clips back into place
  • Gently push the hose back onto the pump.

Clogged Nozzle

Nozzles are the final destination that your washer fluid travels to. Due to their tiny openings, it could easily get clogged or broken. You can tell if the nozzles are clogged when there is an uneven/decreased stream of fluid from the nozzles.

When your nozzles are fully clogged, it can force the fluid out the back end of the nozzle, which is a clear indication it’s about to fail, or has failed already. It is important not to ignore the warning signs and replace the nozzle if it has gotten that far. 

Fix: Clean The Nozzles

  • Using a can of condensed air, blow a concentrated stream of air into the clog and remove the debris.
  • You can also use an old toothbrush and some warm water to clean your car’s wiper fluid nozzles. Dip the brush in warm water and vigorously scrub in and around the nozzle to free any dirt and debris that may be causing the clog.
  • You can also use a needle to poke through the hole opening.

Useful Videos For Cleaning/Repairing