The Ultimate Guide to Unclogging Your Car's Windshield Wiper Fluid Jets

Staying safe on the road requires a clear view from your windshield. It is your window to the roads you travel. Keeping it clear is an obvious safety concern. The team of windshield wipers is the essential part of maintaining clear vision, as they rinse the bugs and dirt off your windshield frequently. What is less obvious to many people is the part of your car that ensures the wipers keep functioning – the windshield wiper fluid system. Without the wiper fluid, your wipers might as well be made of plastic. They would get so coated in filth that you would need soap and water to clean them. However, what about those times when you pull the lever to spray some wiper fluid on your windshield and nothing comes out or is barely a trickle? Many people know this feeling all too well, but does it really have to be that hard to fix?

Checking Your Wiper Fluid TANK: The First Step

Now, before we turn to the more complicated process of troubleshooting wiper jets, let’s start with the obvious. The TANK, the actual source of your washer fluid, is a critical part of the system. It’s tucked away under the hood, and it might simply be empty. And if it’s empty, it’s easy to diagnose and handle. You’ll want to fill it up. And when you fill it up, you’ll want to use quality washer fluid, not just any liquid, since you don’t want water or some other fluid to freeze in your pump system in the winter.

Troubleshooting 101: Clearing Surface-Level Clogs

Your next step should be to investigate the wiper fluid jets. The reason is because sometimes the spray from the wiper fluid nozzles can get clogged. Usually very simple things cause the clog: dirt, a bit of wax, or some other road debris jammed up in it. Luckily, these surface-level clogs are easy to deal with: plug in a toothbrush (not one you’d like to use again, of course) and, with some warm water, begin brushing the gunk off the nozzles. After most of it’s brushed off, take a small cloth (microfibre is ideal) and wipe the remaining debris away. For particularly stubborn dirt, you might try compressed air.

The Clog Goes Deeper: What's Next?

If a surface clean doesn’t fix it, the clog is deeper in the nozzle, and that’s where things get a little more technical, but not too much so. Armed with a long, semi-rigid, thin, yet flexible, piece of wire, you can slowly worm your way into the nozzle to remove hidden impediments – just don’t push too hard to avoid damaging the system.

The Final Frontier: Removing and Cleaning the Nozzle

Should the clog persist, removing the nozzle for a through cleaning may be the next best step. That means disconnecting your fluid delivery hose and soaking the nozzle in vinegar for a few minutes to dissolve whatever is left of the gunk before blasting it out with compressed air. When you’re done, reconnect everything and turn on your washer again, where you should see your windshield sprinkle with a lovely unbroken jet of wiper fluid.

Preventing Future Windshield Wiper Fluid Woes

You can prevent future clogs by using the same techniques now. Buy good windshield washer fluid and you can avoid annoyances. Some formulas remove bugs splatter or prevent ice. Check the TANK, and clean the nozzles periodically.

Understanding Your Vehicle's Wiper Fluid System: A Closer Look

That’s a lot of simplicity on the surface for a ton of engineering beneath it, all to make sure that, when you pull a lever or push a button, your windscreen will be smeared clean as you drive. Of course, that task is part of maintenance, but it might as well be the guts of the vehicle’s safety system: unless you can see, you cannot drive. That is as good as all these maps make it sound.

In Conclusion

Keeping your vehicle’s wiper fluid system clear is one of the few safety things you can do that actually qualify as regular maintenance. Checking the TANK, cleaning it from clogs both at the surface and at a deeper level, and taking preventive measures to keep it clear are all things you can do to keep your concierge, yourself, and your wiper fluid in fighting form. You’ll be glad you did.

Jun 09, 2024
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