Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Winshield Washers Stopped Working AGAIN - 2008 Mazda 3

My windshield washers aka “pissers” have stopped working for the 5th to 7th time.
The shop I take it to has replaced the nozzles twice, once with a stock part, the second time with mazda nozzles.
The other times they cleared the lines, and/or cleaned off build up on the nozzles.

They also said that the orange wiper fluid was the problem, to use Blue wiper fluid. So I bought blue Get Go gas station brand. When it happened again after that, they said to use blue Austins Brand…what they have in stock and have used, also what they put in every time they’ve “fixed” it. When I told them this didn’t make sense, the mechanic said, “I don’t know what to tell you.” Awesome.

I’m not opposed to take it to another shop, the current shop is just convenient next to my work and they’ve done great work for me before as well as my co-worker’s cars. Plus they don’t charge me to fix them anymore unless there is a part involved. And I’d like to tell them what the problem is and to fix it once and for all.

Currently the driver side nozzle is working but won’t soon, passenger side is completely dead.

I’ve had the car for three years, two of which I’ve been driving around without windshield washers. They are definitely necessary in Pennsylvania winters.
The only history I have of the car that might relate to this is that the people I bought it off of hadn’t driven it for about 6 cold months. When I went to pick it up it had about a foot of snow in it. So that is what I initially thought the issue was, that they froze or something cracked and there was a leak.

Thanks for any input!

Windshield washers aren’t rocket science, although the system has become more complicated in recent years. My guess is that the previous owner of your car didn’t use the washers very much. I would bet that there is sediment or something in the bottom of the reservoir tank that holds the fluid. Clean out the reservoir tank, blow out the lines to the nozzles and you should be good to go.

“'The shop” is clueless.
If the washers are intermittent when the weather is warm, like now, and the squirters and hoses have been cleared, than it’s either a bad pump, a bad componentin the steering column (the switch itself or perhaps the clockspring if the lever rotates with the steering wheel), or a wiring problem. The pump is generally attached to the bottom of the reservoir and can be accessed from below the car. It’s been some years since I replaced a pump, but parts stores used to sell generic replacement pumps for about $20. They’re probably still less than $40, and readily available on the internet.

If you have a problem with inoperative washers in the winter, it’s likely because the fluid is freezing. You need to be sure to the bottle you buy says “Winter Mix”. I simply use “winter mix” all year around so I don’t have to worry about changing the fluid over. It probably costs me an extra $1 annually, since I’d have to pay the extra few dimes the winter mix costs in the winter anyway.

And I’d suggest you find a new shop. The guys where you’re going are really clueless.

I just went through this same problem a couple of months ago with my Dakota pickup and agree with the same mountainbike that the repair shop is clueless. I finally cleaned out the reservoir, replaced the pump and all the plastic (yes plastic) washer fluid hoses with rubber lines. The whole shebang cost about $30. The plastic washer fluid hoses are a waste. When they get old they develop tiny cracks that lose pressure and barely leak but it’s enough to lose the pressure needed to get the fluid to the windshield.

I too agree that they’re clueless, I’m finding a new shop.

Pressure seems to be a big factor, because a few of the times as it was crapping out, the fluid stream was lower and just started leaving blue water marks on my hood. Then it would stop all together.

Also this happens all year, weather doesn’t seem to be a factor.

They told me at one point that they blew out the lines, but nothing about the reservoir. I find it odd that it works for a few weeks then doesn’t with just them replacing/cleaning nozzles and the one time the blew out the lines?

As far as trouble shooting, what order should I check these components?
…Reservoir, pump, hoses, washers, steering column
I’d like to save money and fix it myself. But if it takes me over three hours it might be worth the time to take it to a shop…if it’s less than $100 in parts and labor.
Do you know if this is covered in a Haynes book? I’m looking in the table of contents online, but don’t know what section it would be under. I’m pretty sure they sell them sealed up in the stores.

Pump first. If you have 12volts there when the button is pressed, the pump is bad. If not, you need to find where the voltage disappeared. You’ll need a wiring diagram, a schematic, and a meter. You should be able to get the first two from a dealer’s parts window.

The reservoir is nothing but a plastic bottle. The only way it could go bad is if its hole where the fluid is drawn by the pump plugs up or if its vent hole plugs up and it forms a vacuum in the air space. And that’d be easy and free to check. If when it stops squirting you open the cap and the problem disappears, then you’re probably developing a vacuum in the reservoir. I’ve never seen this happen, but the theory is nonetheless valid.

I liked missileman’s idea about the hoses too.

Here is something to try–when one nozzle or the other doesn’t function, stick a pin into the nozzle, pull it out and then try the washer. You may have to repeat this process several times. If that nozzle then works and shoots a good stream, the problem is not the pump. As you indicate, one nozzle is working and one isn’t. This leads me to think that the pump is o.k. I still think there might be dirt in the bottom of the reservoir.

From the description; “Currently the driver side nozzle is working but won’t soon, passenger side is completely dead.” And this issue has been resolved for short periods of time by the shop!!!

Someone may have left the cover off at some point and a leaf blew in…decayed into small pieces and now is being pumped into the lines…to finally reach the nozzle plugging them.
Cleaning the tank and pump would be my first choice and blowing out the lines.
I would also…because this has been ongoing…purchase new spray nozzles. At the dealer I would presume it would cost $30 for both. THats just a guess???
One suggestion though. When you are ready to reassemble it all do not plug the hoses into the nozzles. Fill the resevior and then pump some fluid thru the lines, so you are sure the lines are rinsed out good before making that final connection.

AS far as the color…makes no difference, but be sure it is the winter blend as @the same mountainbike suggested.

I left someone top mine off last winter for me, and they put in summer blend and it was a lot of work getting all that frozen stuff out.


If there is a blockage in the line it should be at the nozzles. You could remove the lines going to them and then check the flow out of the lines. If the flow is low or you have none then most likely the pump is bad or the power connection to it has a problem. If the nozzles are clogged you can use compressed air in the reverse direction to clear them.

I suggest you purge the reservoir with clean water from a hose and clear the lines without the nozzles connected until clean water comes out. Then ues any good fluid you choose to as that will not matter and is not causing the trouble you are having. Just make sure the freezing point of the fluid is well below the normal winter temps of your area. I think most fluids are good to at least -40 degrees.