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Screen Washers Issue


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Just bought a 2001 Focus, 60,000 miles, gave it a once over and most things seem fine (though I'll be getting the cam belt done shortly)

The only thing that's bugging me is the rear washer not spraying at all and the front ones are a bit sporadic (passed a new MOT however, got lucky I guess).

I suspect the car had been left for quite a while before I bought it, as there was a fair bit of black gunk in the washer reserve, which I cleaned out as best I could before putting new wash fluid in.

But if there's gunk in the pipes, is it easy to get the nozzles off the end, then 'flush' the system by squirting them with no nozzles on?

Or is it a more complicated thing I'd have to get a garage to do? Could it be another issue I'm overlooking?

Thanks in advance.

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Things to check:

Is the pump actually working?

Are the fuses ok?

Most modern systems have a single pump that does both the front and rear screen from the same water tank.

The pump is effectively two pumps in one unit.

Perhaps the half that works the rear has failed (while the part that works the front is also on its way out?)

Or perhaps the front and rear work off different fuses, and the fuse that controls the rear has blown?

Check the fuses first, and if they're all OK then you could check the pump itself:

Let's start with the rear:

When you try and squirt the rear, can you hear the pump working?

(open the bonnet, turn the ignition on but not the engine, give it a squirt)

If you can't hear anything, the pump is obviously not pumping water, and needs to be replaced.

It's possible that some of the gunk you found in the tank has previously been sucked up by the pump and caused the problem (although you emptied some from the tank itself, it would still be stuck in the pump)

But if you CAN hear the pump working, the problem is likely to be in the pipe work or nozzle.

Repeat for the front.

A new pump should be about £20, you may even get one from Halfords

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Also, might be worth checking the plumbing at the pump. Had a mk2 mondeo that just loved throwing its pipes off! Nothing greater than getting down there to reattach them and having the screen wash run up your arm!

You should be able to remove the rear pipe from the nozzle. They wouldn't have made it all out of one piece that's for sure! With it removed I would get an airline and blow through the pipe. May require two people one to check you have through flow while the other puts the airline through it.

Back to the water pump. I believe my one ran one way for the front screen and reverse for the rear screen.

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I can definitely hear the pump when squirting both back and front. I'll have to check the pipes themselves I guess, but the heavens have just opened, so it'll have to wait.

Thanks for the other tips though chaps, much appreciated!

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I wonder if you could disconnect the pipes from where the are attached to the pump outlets, and find a way to connect to a pressure washer to blast water through and clear any blockages?

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Hmm, some sort of progress, I've had the tubes off the front washers,

both tubes pump fluid fine so there must be a blockage in the nozzle itself, in just one of the two jets (3 out of 4 work fine), I'll have to get that off somehow and see if I can flush it.

The rear one however, grrr.

It is indeed leaking into boot as Mr Redman suggested, I've had the dark coloured panel off that covers the seat belt,

but it seems the leak is coming from further up inside the body, inside a lighter coloured panel I've no idea how to get off. I can't see any obvious screws, but I didn't want to just yank it.

(I don't think it's inside the small rubber 'hinge' that connects boot to body for the cables, I've got that off and it seems dry there.)

Not sure if I need to take the rear light fixture off as that holds it in or something? If I do I'm screwed because I don't have a star shaped screwdriver attachment, off to Halfords :P

I was going to remove the rear brake light that houses the rear washer but I need the star shaped screwdriver for that too.

Will Halfords carry replacement screws of that type? They're a bit old and rusting.

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Since I'm guessing the pipe has split to the rear one, does anyone know what type / diameter / length I would need to fix it?

Just ordered some of the mist type for the two front ones, might as well upgrade while I'm at it :P

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Scratch that, it is inside the gromit. It's split so I can see the fibres of the tube.

Wondering if I can slip a bit of a narrower tube inside the existing pipe and duct tape it up?

Going to have a go anyway as I've no idea how to replace the whole thing without ripping the car to bits...

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best easy fix is a small piece of copper pipe slip the ends of the rubber hose over the copper pipe then apply some sealant to the ends when the sealant dries apply tape the tape on its own doesnt last long and usually starts dripping if you were anywhere close to me ide do it for you mate

the only way to remove that grommet is to remove the rear boot panel attatched to the rear hatch 2 torq screws if i remember them it pulls off then remove the plastic trim up the rear boot window these pop off with these done you now have to disconnect all the wiring that goes through the grommet so rear wiper and rear window heater wire and carefully pull each wire through the grommet with this done you can now remove the grommet and snip the pipe now remove the 3rd brake light cover2 torq screws again and it pulls free you can now remove the washer pipe attatched to fix cut the old hose just behind the roof lining which you can pull down and insert a plastic join tube from Halfords etc the same diameter as the pipe its a tight fit but it will go once on pull it back slightly and apply sealant and push the hose forward this will ensure it seals and doesnt leak to the other end of that joint piece you attatch the new piece of hose to the rear washer and again pull back slightly and apply sealant then push it home tape up the joint to be extra sure of no leaks and refit. the hardest part is getting the wires back into the grommet without tearing it but it can be done then refit everything.

the tape method you have used will temporarily work if you can get to the hose to insert a jointing piece as it is then just do it that way

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The split was right in the middle of the gromit, I peeled it back and put quite a few pieces of duct tape around it.

I had to wiggle a pin around in the rear washer itself and quite a bit of gunk blasted out.

I'd guess the blockage caused a pressure build up to split the already weakened pipe section in the bend.

I'll see how the duct tape holds for now, but I will need to replace it long term.

My mist type washers arrived and I've fitted those, which work ok but spray a bit low (I spotted the tip about a dot of glue in another thread so I'll give that a go)

I've also put non return valves on each one.

The main problem now is the old front washers were the heated type and the new ones didn't come with the heating element, (but do have the slot for it) so I thought I could take it out of the old ones.

Looked like they should just slide out, however, a stanley knife and a lot of aggro later, they came out it about a million pieces.

(I'd post a picture of the hilarity if only I could get photobucket working.)

So either they weren't meant to come out, or they were so old, they'd melted into position?

Looking online, I can't seem to find just the cable/heating element part on it's own, I'll have to get whole new heated mist washers, hah. Lesson learned.

Not a big deal for now, but I'll sort it before winter.

Anyway, thanks for the help and tips folks, much appreciated.

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Tropical fish shops are a good source of plumbing bits for washers.

Heated washer parts are melt moulded together.

Buying them with the elements already fitted is your only real option.

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  • 9 months later...

Hi all, this is my first post :)

I've just brought a 51 plate focus estate and had the exact same problem. Could there be any water stuck in the bodywork of the car? The headliner was fairly damp but luckly not showing from the inside of the car!!! I only noticed it because some water dripped out the vent near the boot edge :).

Going to be trying to add a connector to re-join it all up later this evening.


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