Diagnosing problems with the car’s windshield washer reservoir

Article by Christian A., on August 9, 2018

Due to dirt and debris, the windshield has to be cleaned. To do this, carmakers install a cleaning system that sprays washer fluid onto the windshield. Then the wipers are automatically turned on to clean the windshield. The fluid used to clean the windshield is sourced from a container called the windshield washer reservoir.

Usually translucent to allow you to see whether it is filled with washer fluid, the windshield washer reservoir is usually a part that doesn’t wear out after some time. This is because the windshield washer reservoir is made from high-grade plastic that are really very durable. Thus, when it sustains some damage, it won't be because of wear and tear. Most probably, the damage was sustained because of other issues like putting in other liquids aside from washer fluid, like water. When water freezes, it causes the reservoir plastic to harden. Once it thaws, the reservoir will sustain some cracks.

The windshield washer reservoir contains a pump that pusher washer fluid through plastic lines to the washer nozzles. The washer fluid is then sprayed onto the car’s windshield. If the windshield washer reservoir gets damaged, some of its parts and components might stop working. You might not be able to clear your windshield through the wiper spray. However, there are signs that may manifest if the windshield washer reservoir is failing or in bad shape. Knowing these would help you determine whether it is already time to repair often-times ignored element of the car.

In case you don’t know it, the windshield washer reservoir is usually located under multiple engine parts in most modern vehicles. Its fill tube can easily access on either the driver or passenger side to allow for easy refilling of the washer fluid. It is translucent and comes with a mark of windshield wipers, ensuring that it won't be mistaken for the coolant overflow reservoir.

Having a translucent windshield washer reservoir is an advantage as it tells you whether washer fluid is low or empty. But if the washer fluid is frequently low or empty, something is already out of order. That just means that the reservoir is leaking – from the bottom, top or sides. This is could be because the reservoir might have sustained some cracks or damage. Such could cause the washer fluid to leak even though the system wasn’t activated.

Furthermore, you can visually check for any crack on the windshield washer reservoir. Any crack shouldn’t be taken for granted, as they would eventually cause some washer fluid leakage.

If there are any leaks, they would be noticeable just under the car. The washer fluid is typically colored light blue or light green, and if you notice a wet colored spot below your car, they could be the washer fluid.

Lastly, the reservoir could be damaged of the system doesn’t spray any washer fluid onto the windshield, even though it has been activated. This means that the fluid has already been used or drained. If drained, the cause could be a leak due to cracks.

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Topics: tips, engine

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