Windshield Wiper Fluid Not Coming Out – Causes and Fixes

Windshield wiper fluid that won't come out is a problem that happens to all cars at some point. Here are some of the most common causes and solutions for it.

Windshield Wiper Fluid Not Coming Out

When it comes time to clear your windshield, you expect the wipers and fluid to work as designed. Whether you are dealing with bug guts or road debris, you want to spray the windshield and keep moving. So, what do you do when the windshield wiper fluid is not coming out? You need to know the causes of this problem so you can resolve it quickly.

In this guide, we discuss each of the problems in depth. After determining what’s causing the lack of fluid, you will be better equipped to follow some of our repair procedures. 

Reasons Windshield Wiper Fluid is Not Coming Out

The most obvious reason why the windshield wiper fluid fails to come out is that the tank is empty. There could also be a clogged hose or nozzle. If the weather is cold, the fluid might have frozen. Finally, you should consider a blown fuse or a bad washer pump could be to blame.

Here is a more detailed list of the reasons why your windshield wiper fluid is not spraying:

1. Empty Tank

The most obvious issue is that the windshield washer fluid reservoir is empty. Most reservoirs hold nearly a gallon of fluid or two to four liters.

If you’ve been using the washer fluid regularly, you might not realize how much you have gone through. Some cars have a level sensor for the washer fluid, but not all cars, and there is also a risk that your level sensor failed.

The fluid helps you clear the windshield whenever something hits it, so it makes sense if you go through a tank often. To prevent running out, you should check the tank when you stop to fill up the fuel tank. 

2. Clogged Hose or Nozzle

If the windshield washer fluid reservoir is full, but nothing is coming out, there could be a clogged hose or nozzle. With this clog in the way, it’s impossible to get fluid through onto the windshield.

This tends to be the next most common issue next to an empty tank. Thankfully, it’s not too hard to resolve, as we will outline in a minute. 

3. Frozen Fluid

Are you driving around in a cold climate? If so, it’s possible that the windshield washer fluid has frozen up temporarily. Wiper fluid isn’t water, which freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it does contain water, which can freeze.

You can prevent this from happening by parking in a garage when temperatures get too low or use a stronger washer fluid. Otherwise, you need to defrost the fluid before it can be used. 

4. Blown Fuse

The windshield washer fluid is run by the car’s electrical system. To ensure everything runs smoothly, there is a fuse controlling how much power runs through the system. If there has been a short or another defect, the fuse could have blown. 

With a blown fuse, the system won’t work. However, you don’t need to worry about this fix either since it’s easy to resolve. 

5. Defective Washer Pump

There’s a fluid pump connected to the reservoir that pushes the fluid where it needs to go. When you turn on the switch, the pump activates and gets busy. However, this pump can fail. When this happens, the motor can still run, but no fluid will come out.

Because the system is electrical, there’s also the option that something larger has failed. However, this isn’t typically the problem as the pump is more apt to fail. 

RELATED: 5 Signs of a Bad Windshield Wiper Motor (& Replacement Cost)

How to Fix Wiper Fluid That Doesn’t Come Out

1. Fill Tank

Take a look at the tank to see how much fluid is inside. If the reservoir is empty, it’s time to fill it up. You can purchase a jug of windshield washer fluid for around $5. 

With a funnel, pour the fluid into the reservoir until it is full. Wipe up any spills before you use the windshield wipers again. Try out the system and see if it’s all fixed. 

2. Unclog Nozzle or Lines

There are multiple ways to unclog a line or nozzle. First, you need to identify where the clog is. Compressed air can be utilized to blow away debris that is seen. If you spray the air at the end of the clog, it might push it through the line. Compressed air is also useful for preventing clogs when used regularly.

You can also use a small sewing needle to clean out the nozzle. It should be just slightly larger than the size hole to the nozzle. 

3. Defrost Fluid

If the fluid has frozen, it shouldn’t take long to warm up and work normally again. You can let the vehicle warm up while you remove ice and debris from the vehicle. By the time the engine gets warm, the fluid should also be liquefied again.

You may also consider parking it in a sunny location, where it won’t freeze as easily in the first place and you want to check the strength of the washer fluid. If the washer fluid contains too much water, it will freeze easily. Ideally, the garage is the best place to park, but any sunny spot will help. 

4. Replace Fuse

The car has several fuse boxes in most models. There is often one fuse box usually found underneath the hood with another in the cabin near the floor, on the driver or passenger side. You can get details on the location and the layout of fuses from the owner’s manual.

Find the fuse that runs the windshield washer pump. With a test light or electric circuit tester, you can see if the fuse is still in good condition. If the fuse is blown, you won’t spend a lot to replace it. Just make sure the new fuse contains an identical amp rating. Test the new fuse once you put it in and make sure everything is working correctly. 

RELATED: 10 Best Winter Wiper Blades – Review & Buyer’s Guide

5. Replace Washer Pump

You may spend $15 to $200 for a new washer pump. Additionally, if you can install it yourself, you won’t have to pay anything for the labor. However, it can be difficult to reach the pump on some car models, so you may need some knowledge about cars.

Here are the simple steps to follow in most cases.

  1. Disconnect the car battery. Remove the ground cable from the negative terminal, which will disable the windshield wiper and ignition system of the vehicle. 
  2. Locate the washer pump. In most cars, it can be found in the upper engine compartment, near the fender. However, there are some models that will require jacking up the vehicle to get underneath it. 
  3. (Optional depending on model) Take off the reservoir bolts. There will be several bolts securing the windshield washer reservoir to the body or fender of the car. In some car models, you do not need to remove the reservoir, though.
  4. Disconnect the harness plug. This plug is connected to the windshield washer pump. 
  5. Take the washer fluid line off of the pump. There could be a clamp holding it on, which will require a needle-nosed plier to remove properly. Make sure you use caution so nothing breaks.
  6. Take the washer fluid reservoir out of the vehicle. Remove the pump located inside the reservoir. 
  7. Clean off any contacts that are exposed. You will find contacts on the pump and the harness plug.
  8. Put the new pump inside the reservoir.
  9. Secure any bolts that hold the reservoir in place.
  10. Reconnect the harness to the pump. 
  11. Put the fluid line back into the appropriate location of the pump. If there’s a clamp involved, make sure it is secured. 
  12. Fill the washer fluid up and check for leaks.
  13. Reconnect the battery and test the system. 

If these steps didn’t help you fix the problem, it might be time to visit a professional service center for more support.

RELATED: How to Fix Squeaky Windshield Wiper Blades (& Replacement Cost)

Washer Fluid FAQs

How do you unclog a windshield washer hose?

There are a few methods to unclog a windshield washer hose. The easiest and best way is to use some compressed air and blow it in the other direction than the washer fluid usually flows. You can also use a small steel wire to run through to clean it.

Why is my windshield wiper fluid clogged?

Windshield wiper fluid lines, hoses and nozzles can become clogged due to age and this happens in most cars with age. It is also possible that dirt has entered the washer fluid reservoir somehow. If you usually drive with washer fluid that is too weak, it can also cause rust and corrosion inside the hoses more quickly.

How do you test a wiper fluid pump?

To test a wiper fluid pump, you can run a fused +12v and a ground wire to the pump to test its function. You can also measure the resistance with a multimeter and measure the wires going to the wiper fluid pump.

How do you clean washer fluid nozzles?

The easiest way to clean washer fluid nozzles is by using compressed air and blowing in the other direction than the fluid normally flows. You can also use a small needle in the nozzles to remove the dirt. Gently running the brake clean through the nozzles can also be effective, but be careful not to get it on the paint or other sensitive parts.

Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.

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