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What Causes Windscreen Washers and Wipers to Fail?

CarPart  ·  February 17, 2023

What Causes Windscreen Washers and Wipers to Fail?

Compared to your car's many other systems, the windscreen washer and wiper systems don't seem too important, but nothing can be farther from the truth. The system keeps your windscreen clear for you to see the road clearly, and that’s crucial in driving. 

So, what might cause windscreen washers and wipers to fail?

Your windscreen washer and wiper system can fail if it has a dirty nozzle or clogged feeder tubes and a faulty pump. Any or all of these things can prevent the nozzles from spraying liquid on your windscreen when you need to clean away stains and debris. The same thing happens with worn-out wiper blades or a damaged switch.

Your windscreen washer and wiper can fail for several reasons because there are plenty of different components in the system. Read through this guide to understand each of them and learn how to fix them when they stop working.

Why Does a Windscreen Washer and Wiper Fail?

Many people don’t realise that their car windscreen washer consists of several components besides the wiper blade and nozzle. The truth is there are plenty of other parts concealed underneath your car's hood and other panels.

Here are the different components involved and how they can cause your windscreen washer and wiper to fail:

1. Dirty Nozzle 

Your windscreen washer consists of nozzles on your hood pointing at the windscreen from outside. From those nozzles come fluids that spray onto the windscreen to help your wipers clean them more effectively.

Those nozzles are also the first points of failure for your windscreen washer and wiper system.

The nozzles can become dirty or clogged because of impurities in the fluid reservoir. Those impurities flow out to the nozzle and get stuck at the opening, and when that happens, the washer will not be able to spray fluid onto the windscreen.

How to fix it: You can fix a dirty or clogged nozzle by cleaning the opening using a toothpick. With that toothpick, carefully remove all debris stuck at the nozzle. Then, flush it out several times by spraying wiper fluid until the nozzles are clean.

2. Clogged Feed Tubes

When no water comes out of the windscreen washer, you should first assume that the nozzles are dirty and clean them out as described earlier. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you likely have a clog in the feed tubes instead.

The feed tube carries the windshield wiper fluid from its reservoir to a pump and, lastly, to the nozzle on your car’s hood.

As you read earlier, impurities like dirt and debris can find their way into the system via the reservoir. For instance, dirt can get in when you open the reservoir to top up the fluids.

As in the case of clogged or dirty nozzles, clogged feed tubes can also prevent the fluid from flowing.

How to fix it: You can fix this problem by flushing the clogged feed tubes from both ends. To do that, you must first remove the affected tubes from your car to spray water inside.

Flushing the tube from both ends will ensure that any debris stuck inside becomes loose and exits the tube.

After you unclog the affected tubes, you can reinstall them the same way as before.

3. Faulty Pump

The windscreen washer pump is another reason no water comes out of the windscreen washer. Of course, you should only troubleshoot the pump if you’re confident that the feed tubes and nozzles aren’t clogged (as described above).

The pump is powered by your car’s electrical system, and it’s controlled by the lever at the steering wheel. When you activate the pump, it’ll drive fluid from the reservoir through the feed tubes and out of the nozzles. 

The nozzles will spray the fluids onto your windscreen to help your wipers remove dirt and debris more effectively.

A faulty pump can’t produce enough force to drive the fluid through the system. In more severe cases, the pump might not work at all due to excess wear or an electrical fault like a short circuit.

How to fix it: When troubleshooting a faulty pump, the first thing to check is that its electrical connectors aren’t loose. If they’re attached tightly, but the pump still won’t work, you’ll have to replace it with a new one.

Your windscreen wipers will still work without the pump. However, you won’t be able to spray windshield washer liquid to help clean more stubborn stains on the glass.

4. Worn-Out Wiper Blades

Of course, the individual windscreen wiper blades can also cause your windscreen washer and wiper system to fail. 

Each blade uses a rubber material to glide over the glass and wipe everything away. Doing so will remove water and debris, keeping the glass clear so you can see the road ahead clearly.

However, that rubber material gradually wears out. Eventually, it’ll struggle to glide over the glass smoothly, causing excess friction and noise.

In more severe cases, worn-out wiper blades can cause tiny scratches on your windscreen, damaging it.

Worn-out wiper blades are considered a failure in the system because they won’t clear the windscreen effectively and can even cause damage to it directly.

How to fix it: Worn-out wiper blades are meant to be replaced immediately. Unfortunately, there’s no way to repair or restore them, nor would you want to. However, a new set of wiper blades is inexpensive and quick to install.

5. Failed Windscreen Wiper Switch

Suppose you activate the lever at your steering wheel, but the wiper blades won’t move or the windscreen washer won’t spray any fluid, then you likely have a failed windscreen wiper switch.

The lever you operate controls the switch, which tells the system what to do. Pull it one way and activate the wiper blades to move and clear your windscreen. Pull it another way, and the nozzles spray fluid onto the windscreen instead.

A failed switch won't do anything when you operate the lever, so the whole system won't work even if all the other components are in excellent condition.

How to fix it: Windscreen wiper switches don’t fail often, but there’s always the chance of it happening. Once you rule out all other possible causes that your windscreen washer and wiper are failing, the most likely culprit is the wiper switch.

At that point, the only solution is to replace the switch with a new one.

If you need help diagnosing and troubleshooting your windscreen washer and wiper, you should check the Directory at CarpartAU. It’s an excellent way to quickly contact automotive service providers in your area and solve your wiper problems or any other ones affecting your car!


By Ray Hasbollah

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