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How To Fix Jeep Windshield Washer That Isn’t Spraying

If the windshield washer isn’t spraying properly on your Jeep Wrangler, the cause could be as simple as a clogged strainer in the washer reservoir. Cleaning this strainer is a simple, no-cost, DIY repair that can be performed by a beginner and doing it yourself can save you some money on labor costs.

Car engine windshield washer fluid reservoir cap close-up

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Correcting Issues With The Windshield Washer Is a Beginner Repair for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Fix A Jeep Windshield Washer at Home.

  • DIY Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Time Required: 30 minutes
  • Tools & Materials: To diagnose and repair this system, you’ll need a test light, screwdriver, siphon pump, and needle nose pliers.

What Is A Windshield Washer?

The windshield washer system is designed to assist the windshield wipers to clean debris from the windshield. Windshield washer fluid might be the most often overlooked of all the fluids in your vehicle, but it’s very important when it comes to visibility on the road. 

No matter what type of car you drive, this system consists of a fluid reservoir, pump, rubber hoses, sprayers, and a switch. When the switch is activated, the pump sends fluid from the reservoir to the windshield through spray nozzles located either on the hood or the cowl. 

Due to the mud loving nature of the Jeep Wrangler owners, it seems that enough debris can get into the fluid reservoir that issues with poorly spraying fluid are fairly common. Fortunately, the fix for this issue is very simple (even for novice DIYers) on the Jeep Wrangler thanks to the easy-to-access components. If you’re experiencing weak spray from the windshield washer nozzles, this repair outlined here is no more challenging than replacing the windshield wipers, and it requires very few tools, just like a tire rotation or battery replacement.

About windshield washer fluid

Depending on what part of the country you live in, your car may require different types of windshield washer fluid. In Northern states where temperatures drop below freezing, there are specific washer fluids that you should use that are resistant to freezing, and there are even some washer fluids that are formulated to remove bug guts from the windshield. No matter where you live, always use actual washer fluid instead of putting straight water in the reservoir to maximize the performance of the windshield washer system and extend the life of your windshield washer blades.

Is It Safe to Drive with a Faulty Windshield Washer?

If you live in an area that uses salt on roadways in the winter, then not having a properly operating windshield washer can be a safety issue. Even if you live outside of such an area, not having a windshield washer will likely cause premature wear of the windshield wipers, which could lead to additional safety concerns.

What happens if I don’t do this? How bad could things get?

While windshield washers aren’t necessary for the wipers to function properly, it is helpful when cleaning a dry windshield from road debris such as dirt, bugs, or salt buildup. Operating the wipers in a dry condition can cause damage to the wiper blades, so if the washer fluid is empty or not spraying properly, you should avoid using this feature until it has been repaired.

In short, why is this job important?

Not having a proper windshield washer can either be an inconvenience or a safety concern. The worst-case scenario is usually a faulty windshield washer pump, which has an average replacement cost of between $124 and $167 at a shop, but the good news is that repairing issues with this system yourself is usually pretty easy.

When to Fix the Windshield Washer

This repair is only necessary when the fluid doesn’t spray (or doesn’t spray properly), but there is still some maintenance you can perform to ensure you don’t have any problems. As I learned from my Jeep, keeping the windshield washer fluid clean will reduce the need for repairs. Another obvious sign you need to address a problem with the washer fluid system is white buildup on the outside of the washer nozzles.

What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Fix the Windshield Washer?

What symptoms should you look/listen/check for? 

  • Pump comes on when switch is activated
  • Fluid does not spray from the nozzles

How to Diagnose You Washer Fluid Issue:

Step 1: Ensure proper washer fluid level

If fluid isn’t spraying from the windshield washer nozzles, the first step should be to check for the most obvious reason — no washer fluid. Make sure the reservoir has fluid in it before proceeding with these steps.

Step 2: Check washer pump operation

a) After you check the fluid level, activate the switch for the windshield washer. If you don’t hear the pump running, the next step in diagnosing the problem should be to check the fuses (as is the case with any repair related to electronic components). To do this, you can look for a fuse diagram, which is either printed on the fuse box cover or it’s listed in the owner’s manual. Use a test light or a visual inspection to verify that the windshield washer pump is good. If you don’t have the tools to test this or this is already too deep down the repair rabbit hole for you, feel free to go to a mechanic’s shop instead.

If the fuse is good but the pump still doesn’t work, the switch, pump, or wiring could be at fault. The easiest place to start is usually checking for proper power supply at the pump, which will verify or rule out a faulty pump.

b) If you can hear the pump running, but fluid isn’t spraying from the nozzles, disconnect the rubber hoses from the nozzles to ensure that fluid has good pressure to that point. This will eliminate the nozzles as a culprit, which are easier to access (and replace) than the washer pump. If there is good pressure coming from the lines, then the nozzles are likely to be the issue here. A white buildup around the holes of the nozzle are another good indication that these have gotten clogged. 

c) If none of the above seems to be the culprit, it may be the windshield washer strainer that is stopping the fluid from spraying. Read below for instructions on how to complete this easy DIY project.

How To Clean A Jeep Wrangler Windshield Washer Strainer

Step 1: Drain fluid reservoir

Using a siphon pump, remove as much of the old windshield washer fluid from the reservoir as possible and dispose of it responsibly. This is necessary due to the location of the fluid pump, which is always located at the bottom of the reservoir. It’s best to dispose of the old fluid just in case there’s any contamination, which is likely the cause of the strainer being clogged in the first place.

Step 2: Remove and inspect washer pump

The washer fluid pump is located just behind the reservoir, and it’s easy to access. Disconnect the wiring harness connector before attempting to remove the pump itself. Apply a small amount of pressure to separate the pump from the reservoir, and then lift it out of the vehicle for inspection. 

At this point, you should be able to tell if the strainer (located at the bottom of the pump) is the culprit as it will be covered in debris (shown below). If so, use a small screwdriver to remove the strainer making sure not to damage the seal. Clean out any debris and run clean water through the reservoir to remove any additional contaminants. Also rinse out the fluid pump to make sure no debris is present to re-clog the strainer. 

Step 3: Reassemble, add washer fluid, and test

Reassemble the strainer onto the pump, and install the pump back into the reservoir ensuring that the rubber seals are properly in place. Once installed, reconnect the pump’s wiring harness and top off the windshield washer reservoir. 

Voila! You’re done.

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Jeffrey N. Ross

Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a ’91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.

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About the Author

Jeffrey N. Ross

Jeffrey N. Ross

Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a '91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

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