3 Reasons You Have No Spray From Your Car's Windshield Washer Nozzles

Windshield washer nozzles aren't something most drivers spend much time considering. From the driver's perspective, these devices are relatively straightforward. You pull your washer stalk to get a jet of cleaning fluid, and now and then, you refill the tank when the light tells you that you're low on fluid. Unfortunately, these parts can fail, just like any other component on your car.

Most vehicles use relatively straightforward systems to control windshield washer jets. If nothing happens when you pull your washer stalk, it's probably due to one of these three common failures:

1. Faulty Level Sensor

Your washer tank contains at least one sensor that measures the fluid level in the windshield washer system. The sensor triggers a warning light on your dash when the level drops below a minimum point. The minimum level will typically be above the bottom of the tank, so you might still get a few squirts from the nozzles after the light comes on.

A failed sensor will usually have one of two results: you won't get a low-level warning light, or the warning light won't turn off. If the former occurs, you'll probably run your windshield washer tank dry without noticing. One way to test this is to add a small amount of fluid to the reservoir and try the washers again. If they work, that's a good indication that you have a faulty sensor.

2. Sludge Build-Up

Windshield washer nozzles spray fluid through tiny openings, so preventing debris and sludge from contaminating the system is critical. Most cars have multiple filters to prevent this, including at the fill cap and near the pumps. However, sludge can still develop inside the tank, typically due to cold weather or mixing different brands of washer fluid.

Diagnosing a sludge problem can be challenging. In some cases, you may be able to clear the obstruction by using some warm water or by blowing compressor air into the tank from the nozzle tube. Permanently resolving this issue will usually require a mechanic to remove the tank from the car, check the protective screens, and flush out any sludge present in the system.

3. Bad Washer Pump

Washer fluid needs to get from the tank to the nozzles on your hood or rear windscreen. Most cars will have one or two pumps to move fluid around. A faulty pump may initially produce a weak stream of washer fluid before it stops working altogether. Unfortunately, distinguishing between a faulty pump and tank sludge isn't always straightforward.

If your windshield washer jets aren't working, the best option is to get in touch with an auto repair mechanic to help you diagnose the problem. These simple components may not seem all that critical, but going without them can reduce your visibility and potentially create a hazardous driving situation.