A washer nozzle is the final component in the path of the windshield washer system. Most vehicles feature a pair of windshield washer nozzles that spray washer solvent to clean the glass. The job of a washer nozzle is to diffuse the liquid solvent across the surface of your windshield.
Washer nozzles come in a variety of forms and are mounted in various places on a vehicle. Some are inserted through holes near the back of the hood. Some are placed underneath the back edge of the hood. Others are mounted on the cowl section below the windshield, while yet others are mounted directly on the wiper arms.
In all cases, the washer nozzles multiply the fluid pressure coming from the washer pump in a way similar to that of placing your thumb over the end of a garden hose. Two or more tiny holes in the nozzle force washer solvent to spray out toward the glass. Many of these tiny holes or “jets” are adjustable so that they can be aimed appropriately.
Windshield washer solvent originates in a plastic reservoir somewhere behind the front bumper and near the engine compartment. An electric pump attached to the reservoir forces the fluid through a small rubber hose to the washer nozzles. If the washer solvent becomes contaminated with debris, the tiny holes in the nozzles can become plugged.
Therefore, one sign that you might need new washer nozzles is that the fluid does not come out when you engage the washer switch. Or it might not come out of all of the jets. You might also notice that the solvent does not come out at the same rate from all of the jets or sprays unevenly and with poor pressure.
Another sign that you might need new washer nozzles is if washer solvent is leaking from below the washer nozzles, sometimes into the engine compartment. You might notice that the under-hood insulation is wet. Such can happen when the plastic that comprises the washer nozzles becomes brittle with age. It is not uncommon for the nipple where the rubber supply hose mounts to break and cause a leak. In this case, the solvent will not come out of the holes in the nozzle(s), but leak underneath instead.
To replace the washer nozzles on a vehicle, depending on the make and model, a technician will need to access the back side of the nozzle, where it protrudes through its mounting surface (such as the hood). This access might include removing plastic clips to release the under-hood insulation that covers the nozzles. On some vehicles, there is a special access cover that needs to be removed.
On the backside of the nozzle is usually a pair of tabs that must be pressed to release it from its mount. A technician will gently press on these tabs, release the nozzle, and disconnect the rubber supply hose from the nozzle. The replacement parts are then snapped into place, the hoses reconnected, and the trim or insulation restored.
On some vehicles, electric wires for nozzle heaters must also be disconnected and reattached. And in many cases, the nozzle jets must be aimed after installation.
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