When is it time to replace your windshield washer reservoir?
Unlike other components of a vehicle that is subjected to wear and tear over time and use, windshield washer reservoirs exhibit signs of malfunction due to damage. This type of damage including cracks and leaks are usually results of accidents or human error like leaving it out in the winter or placing water instead of windshield washer fluid. These types of reservoirs are made with high-grade plastic and are built to last. It becomes critical once this component becomes damaged as it risks the safety of the driver and the passengers.
You’ll find the windshield washer reservoir beneath a number of components of the engine. You can locate the fill tube on the driver or passenger side and bears a sign of windshield wipers. The windshield washer reservoir works through a pump that circulates the washer fluid into the plastic lines that leads to the washer nozzles and sprays evenly on the windshield with a click of a button. However, once the reservoir is damaged, you will notice certain symptoms that may prompt you to replace the part or call a mechanic.
What are the signs that I need to replace my windshield washer reservoir?
Noticeable fluid leak from under your car
Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can crack your reservoir and result in a leak. But another reason for leaks is placing water inside the reservoir instead of washer fluid. Come winter time, the water freezes and expands, hardening the plastic and thus, cracking it once it melts.
No fluid sprays on the windshield or is always close to empty
A damaged reservoir that has all its contents drained will not siphon anything from its tank to the nozzles to the windshield. You may hear the pump running but no fluid comes out. A leak will also continue to drain the fluid out of the reservoir even when the system is not in use.
The technician notices cracks in the reservoirs
Cracks obviously lead to the washer fluid leakage resulting in the symptoms mentioned above. Once a reservoir tank is cracked, it becomes almost impossible to repair and will need to be replaced. Shops like Prospeed Parts include windshield washer reservoirs and aluminum reservoirs in their inventory so that they may service any type of vehicle their necessary replacement components.
How to fix a leaking windshield washer reservoir?
If the crack isn’t too severe, you can attempt to patch it up yourself before opting to buy a replacement reservoir. Silicone sealant and duct tape won’t do any good for this repair. You’ll need a high-grade patch kit like a plastic tank repair kit or one that uses epoxy putty.
- Have the plastic tank repair kit on hand. Take out the cracked reservoir tank.
- Wash the reservoir tank with soap and water, and then dry it out thoroughly.
- Use the sandpaper that comes with the repair kit or use your own if none and sand the surface of the crack to roughen it.
- Degrease with alcohol or lacquer thinner and leave it alone.
- Place the fiberglass cloth that comes with the package or use a gauze pad if none over the area you sanded.
- Grab the epoxy tube and mix the two types as needed until well-blended and viscous.
- Then squeeze the epoxy unto the cloth and spread using the disposable brush in the pack or a plastic spoon if none to spread the adhesive all over the cloth until it is fully saturated and covered.
- Let the adhesive stand and leave for 30 minutes. This will cure the product and harden the adhesive.
- Once it’s hardened, check for cracks by covering all the holes and blowing air into it.
- Return the repaired reservoir into the vehicle and pour windshield washer fluid as necessary.
How to remove and replace the windshield washer reservoir?
While you can DIY a crack on your windshield washer reservoir, sometimes the damage can be so severe that it makes sense to just replace the whole thing. Here’s how:
- Remove all the parts around the reservoir – Access the mounting bolts that hold it in place. You will normally find the reservoir behind the front bumper or at the front of the car by the engine. You may need to remove the wheel well liner in this case.
- Remove wiring and hoses – Once you find the reservoir, disconnect the wiring to the washer’s pump. Disconnect as well any hoses that connect the pump to the nozzles that the pump leads to. Normally, a reservoir will feature two pumps, each complete with its own wiring and hose so check if any of them are at the point of breaking.
- Remove the washer fluid reservoir – Dismount the reservoir from any bolts and clips left. Pull out the old reservoir carefully.
- Replace with the new washer fluid reservoir – Install the new reservoir and connect all the necessary hoses and wires to the nozzles and pumps, and to the rest of the system.
- Fill the reservoir with windshield washer fluid – Once you’ve filled it to the necessary operating amount, test out the front and rear washers before mounting anything else like the bumper and other exterior components of the vehicle.
- Check if all is in order – Now, if everything works, then all systems go! Mount back the bumper and the rest of the vehicle’s shielding back on. Take precautionary measures this time with the new reservoir and be sure not to place water in it especially when you expect temperatures to drop to freezing or below freezing any time soon.
Although the DIY method of repairing a cracked windshield washer reservoir is doable, replacing a reservoir may need some technical expertise. If you are not confident with your vehicle or have no prior experience with repairing it by yourself, do seek the help of a licensed mechanic.