how to spray water on the windshield?

This blog will explain the procedure to spray the water on the windshield and answer the following questions: what to do if water is not spraying on the windshield? Should you use water or windshield washer fluid? What are the good windshield washer fluids? When should you spray water on the windshield?

How to spray water on the windshield?

The process to spray water on the windshield is given below:

  • Locate the lever with wiper controls on the steering column module.
  • Pull the lever towards the steering and hold it to activate the windshield washer pump.
  • The pump will spray water on the windshield through spray nozzles.
  • Let go of the lever to turn off the windshield washer motor.

The wipers will also activate simultaneously with the windshield washer pump. After the pump turns off, the wiper continues to operate for 2 -3 wipes before turning off. This is to ensure the windshield is properly cleaned and no water is left behind.

If the lever is pulled with the wiper already operating then after the spray on the windshield is completed, wipers can speed up and clean additional water on the windshield and resume to operate according to the previously selected speed.

Some cars have automatic wipers that operate according to the signal from the rain sensor. Hence always check the owner’s manual to find out information regarding different wiper modes and the correspondent switches.

There is also a headlamp washer system that uses the water from the windshield washer tank. The headlamp washer system is operated once after multiple actuation of the wiper lever. It sprays water on the windshield and the headlamps simultaneously.

What to do if water is not spraying on the windshield? 

If the water is not spraying on the windshield even after actuating the lever it can be due to the following reasons.

The windshield washer tank is empty

The washer tank is located on the left or right side of the engine compartment. It holds more than 5 liters of windshield washer fluid or water, when the water is not spraying on the windshield it can be because the tank is empty.

Some cars are equipped with a windshield water tank level sensor, which alerts the driver by showing a message or light in the instrument cluster. If the washer tank is empty, refill the tank with either water or windshield washer fluid.

In cold countries, the water inside the tank can freeze inside the tank. If there is no windshield washer tank heater, then the water cannot be sprayed on the windshield. The windshield washer tank heater can melt the ice inside the tank once the engine is running at operating temperature.

The washer pump is not working

The windshield washer tank uses an electrical pump located to pump the water to the spray nozzles. The inlet of the pump can get blocked due to dirt and the pump becomes inoperative. Similarly, the actuator inside the pump can get stuck if the washer is not used regularly.

This problem is more common in vehicles with high mileage. If the power supply of the pump is okay and the inlet is not blocked then there is an internal fault in the pump then it must be replaced. 

Spray Nozzles are blocked

The spray nozzles are usually located on the bonnet or cowl on top of the vehicle. If the water used on the washer tank has too many impurities, the spray nozzles get blocked. Even if it is not fully blocked, dirt and deposition on the spray nozzles can reduce the spray on the windshield.

The nozzles can be cleaned and usually do not need replacement. There is a repair kit available for the washer hose that connects the spray nozzle and the pump, should there be a leak in the system. Most car companies also have adjustments on the spray nozzles that can change the direction of the spray.

The switch on the steering column module is faulty

When the lever is pulled towards the steering, an internal switch is pressed. The signal from the switch is communicated to the washer pump through the steering column module control unit. Therefore, if there is no signal change even after operating the switch; the water will not spray on the windshield.

The switch inside the steering column cannot be repaired and the entire steering column is replaced. In some premium cars, there is an additional switch for the bonnet. The wiper system does not work when the bonnet is in the open position.

Hence, if there is an open circuit or short circuit in the electrical line of the bonnet switch. The control unit cannot detect the closed position of the bonnet. The windshield washer spray also does not work along with the wipers.

If the vehicle is driven with a faulty bonnet switch, a bonnet open warning will also come in the instrument cluster followed by an audible alarm.

Should you use water or windshield washer fluid?

It is possible to use both water and windshield washer fluid to spray on the windshield. However, there are drawbacks to using only water in the windshield washer tank. Water on its own is not capable of cleaning the windshield properly.

When only water is sprayed on the windshield, there is no lubrication between the windshield washer blades and the surface of the windshield. This creates too much friction and the wiper blades start to judder.

Windshield washer fluid on the other hand contains a detergent with cleaning properties. It is a soapy mixture of water that can even dead bugs and dirt on the windshield. If the spray is used in rain, it helps to lubricate the wiper blades.

The blades do not judder and clean the windshield properly. There is no need to buy a commercially available windshield washer fluid for auto parts stores. Simply adding a glass cleaner and using distilled water instead of tap water can also work just as well.

What are the popular windshield washer fluids?

The popular windshield washer fluids are given below:

Many authorized dealerships also use their own windshield washer fluid concentrate. It is mixed with distilled water when the vehicle reports for service. The concentrated solution can last up to 2 refills after that it can become too diluted.


This blog explained the procedure to spray the water on the windshield and listed some of the common problems that can cause the windshield washer system to not function. Using the water in the windshield washer tank is not recommended as it can block the spray nozzles and cause wiper blade juddering especially in the rain.