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Why is My Windshield Wiper Fluid Not Coming Out? 5 Possible Reasons

Conventional windshield wiper_CharlesLoyer_Unsplash

One of the most annoying things that can happen while driving is to have a large insect explode against your windshield. It leaves a sticky icky mess that sometimes impairs your view of the road. In these situations, the most common response is to reach down and pull the stick to try and clean your windshield. Except for this time when you ask the car to spray fluid onto the mess, nothing happens, leaving you bewildered and irritated. This happens quite often.

What could be causing the issue? Why is your windshield wiper fluid not coming out? There are a few reasons why this problem could be occurring. Many times, the problem has a simple solution, but in rare cases, the issue could require a trip to the repair shop.

Here are five possible reasons your windshield wiper fluid might not be coming out.

car and road divider

Why is My Windshield Wiper Fluid Not Coming Out? 5 Possible Reasons

1. Low Wiper Fluid Levels

The most common cause of windshield wiper fluid not coming out of your car is low levels of fluid. Windshield wiper fluid is stored in a reservoir in the engine, and when you pull the lever in the car to cause the spray, a pump takes the fluid in and moves it onto your windshield. If there is no fluid left in the tank, nothing will come out onto your windshield.

In most cases, car shops top off your wiper fluid when you get an oil change but not always. If you have never refilled your wiper fluid reservoir, there is a good chance that the tank is empty and needs refilling. Windshield wiper fluid can be purchased from many different stores, often for less than $10. Once you buy more fluid you just need to use a funnel to refill the empty reservoir tank. Consult your owner’s manual to find exactly where your windshield wiper fluid is stored in the engine.

Wiper Fluid
Image Credit: NOTE OMG, Shutterstock

2. Clogged Wiper Nozzles

Another common issue that can cause your wiper fluid to not flow when you want it to is clogged nozzles. The windshield wiper fluid is forced out onto your windshield via two or three nozzles located at the base of your windshield by the wipers. These nozzles can become clogged in certain situations. Clogged nozzles are especially common in areas with lots of salty air, dust, dirt, or pollen. Mud can also easily cause nozzles to become clogged. A visual examination of the area might reveal the problem.

You can use a hose to spray down the area at the base of your windshield to try and dislodge any clogs. If a hose does not work, you can use a pin or a paperclip to carefully poke into the nozzle to try and clear any debris that might be present. A toothbrush can also be used to try and clean off the wiper nozzles to dislodge the debris. After cleaning the area, attempt to spray the windshield again. If the situation has improved, you should see some liquid start to come out. Continue to clean the area until you are satisfied with the level of spray coming from the nozzles.

Compressed air is another great way to clear the windshield washer nozzles of debris. Many car vacuum centers and car washes have compressed air on-site for you to use.


3. Bad Windshield Washer Pump

A less common issue is the failure of the windshield washer pump. This small pump is located in the engine and kicks on when you pull the control stick. It sucks in the wiper fluid and forces it through the nozzles. If the pump is bad, then nothing will happen when you try and get the fluid to spray onto the windshield.

In order to tell if you have a bad windshield washer fluid pump, you need to listen closely when you try to spray the windshield. If the pump is working, you should hear a buzzing sound when you pull the stick. If you do not hear anything at all when you try to put fluid into the windshield, there is a good chance the pump could be bad. Pumps burn out all the time, and your windshield washer pump is not immune to failing over time.

Handy people and people who are familiar with cars can replace the washer pump themselves, but it is not a simple repair. In most cases, replacing the windshield washer pump will require a trip to the mechanic to set it right.


4. Problem with the Wiper Control Stick

The least common issue is a problem with the wiper control stick itself. The control stick is the piece that is located inside the cab near the steering wheel. The control stick is the piece that you use to turn your wipers on and off as well as spray fluid onto the windshield. In rare instances, there can be a problem with the stick itself. Control sticks have been known to fail. It could be a mechanical issue or an electrical problem. If you are also having trouble getting your wipers to start or remain on, it could be an indication that there is a problem with the control stick.

A bad wiper control stick usually requires diagnosis and repair by a professional mechanic. Sometimes the control stick might have to be replaced entirely. In other cases, it could be something as simple as a bad fuse or faulty connection at one of the electrical terminals inside the engine.


5. Frozen Fluid

If you live in a cold climate, there is a chance your windshield wiper fluid could have frozen. If the air outside is considerably below freezing, it can cause the fluid to freeze and remain stuck when you try to wash your windshield. In order to remedy this issue, you have to wait for the car to warm up and get the liquid in the reservoir back above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Frozen wiper fluid can also cause the hoses and lines to go bad. If you keep your car outside where it is subjected to freezing temperatures during the winter, the fluid in the lines that connect the reservoir to the nozzles could crack and break. A broken hose will prevent the fluid from making it to the nozzles. Fluid hoses are usually an easy fix that can be done at home with the right knowledge and materials.

car and road divider

How Important Is Windshield Wiper Fluid?

In many cases, you can safely ignore the problems with your windshield wiper fluid. If you are short on money or time, you can put this type of repair off until you are more comfortable. In rare instances, a windshield might become too dirty to safely drive, and in that case, you will have to clean the windshield by hand before using your vehicle. However, most of the time, the windshield wiper fluid is a convenient quality of life feature that does not impede the function of the vehicle.

If your windshield wiper fluid will not come out, you might have to spend time at home hosing off your windshield by hand or using the complimentary windshield cleaning supplies present at most gas stations in order to keep your windshield clean. A clean windshield is safer than a dirty one, but as long as you are comfortable with how your windshield looks, you do not have to rush off to the mechanic to have your wiper fluid pump looked at.car and road divider

Conclusion

There are many different issues that could be causing your wiper fluid not to come out. The most common is simply a low reservoir that needs to be refilled with fresh fluids. However, other problems such as electrical issues, cracked hoses, or bad pumps can also arise. If you cannot get your wiper fluid to come out after trying some DIY solutions at home, you might need to bring the car in and have the wiper system looked at. In the meantime, you can keep your windshield clean by using a hose or complimentary windshield cleaning stations found at many gas stations.


Featured Image Credit: Charles Loyer, Unsplash

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