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Pre-winter inspection of my 2002 windshield washer system

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I just read cn90's winter trunk preparation, so, I decided to perform a pre-winter inspection of my windshield washer system.

A closeup of my nozzles isn't pretty; but they don't appear to be clogged.

Pressing the intensive cleaning spray button squirts fluid out perfectly placed on the middle of the windshield.

However, pulling back on the stalk results in a pathetic dribble from both sets of windshield washer nozzles.

The driver side headlamp washer set also barely dribbles out of just one nozzle of the set.

Worse yet, nothing comes out of the passenger headlamp washer nozzle set.

I pulled the pump out of the instensive cleaner reservoir and put it back and no leaks appeared to be coming from there (although fluid, of course, leaked out when the pump was out).

Attempting to refill the fluids, the intensive cleaner reservoir plastic appears to be deteriorating around the filler neck.

And, lastly, when I refill the windshield washer reservoir fluid to near the neck, water drips out in front of the passenger side front wheel well.

Note: I have not yet tested or inspected the under-hood windshield washer hose connections & fittings.

Since I know little about how the reservoir system is built and operated, it looks like I have a little research project ahead of me to determine how this system works, what went wrong, and how to fix it. :)

Searching, I find these DIYs after skimming each one, and ordering them below by those most likely to give me (and others who have the same problem) a clue.

I'll be reading these in the first pass in this order:
- cn90 DIY: Windshield Washer RESERVOIR Leak Fix
- cn90 Windshield Washer RESERVOIR Leak Fix (bimmerforums)
- Special Intensive Wash Program: Automatic Windshield Washing Function Pictorial DIY
- Leaky washer fluid resevoir fix - DIY - FYI
- Where Is my Windshield Washer Pump?
- E39 Windshield Washer Reservoir (bimmerforums)
- (Bavauto Blog) BMW Windshield Washer Leaks
- Windshield spray nozzle
- resistance value for windshield washer pump front windshield 02 525i bimmerwerkz
- Washer fluid leaking - E39, 530-2002 bimmerwerkz
- Windshield Washer System - Leaking / Damaged
- jamesdc4 Windshield Washer Reservoir Leak Fix (bimmerforums)
- 02 525i E39 windshield washer reservoir leak (bimmerforums)
- windshield washer sprayer not working??
- Leaking washer fluid tank
- Windshield fluid pump not working
- Windshield Washer on E39 Touring
- Please,need help with Intensive resevoir hose


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I feel your pain! I noticed the "drizzle" on the ground too! I replaced the nozzles, hoses (and there are several) from the tank up the fender, around the hinge, up the hood, under the noise pad to the nozzles, then put a new intensive washer pump on the the tank, purchased a euro only really cool washer fill hose with red indicator chamber that I can t use, only to find out it requires a euro only washer fluid tank (next upgrade) but now have a slight leak at the passenger headlight washer (not sure what that is yet...).

Suggest, replace the intensive washer pump, hoses, heated nozzles (in my case), get the Bav Auto alum nozzle adjuster (even found a BMW spec sheet on where th nozzles should aim!... WTF) and then you will be happy... until...
Yeah. I have the (extremely complicated) nozzle aim spec sheet; and I need to order the neat BavAuto nozzle adjusting tool; but nozzle aim is literally the last of my problems.

My first goal will be to figure out:
1. How the system works, and how it's hooked up.
2. What must be broken to cause so many simultaneous errors
3. What needs to be removed for access (hood blanket?, fender well? etc.)
4. Where to get the best parts (good to know about the alum bav auto adjuster)
5. How to aim the nozzles, which, upon first inspection anyway, certainly doesn't look simple! :)

To that end, there seem to be seven RealOEM diagrams under the electrical system header:

And, then, the system description is scattered about in these seven diagrams:

My first quest will be to locate all the pumps (3?), the reservoirs (2?), and hoses and put them together in my mind to make a working system (which, from the diagrams, seems diabolically German already).
even found a BMW spec sheet on where nozzles should aim


I just use a pin to adjust the nozzles. :dunno:
I still don't understand how they adjust just yet ... some people say they adjust with the special tool ... others use a screwdriver ... and others use a pin ... but I don't see what gets adjusted in the first place. There is no slot that I can see in the nozzle for a screwdriver and a pin ... what would it do? Does it simply move what is otherwise held by friction?

Anyway, RDL kindly posted the 'right' aiming diagram for the E39. Apparently the aiming diagram I posted above is for some other BMW TIS and not for the E39.

Details over here:
- Windshield spray nozel

I just use a pin to adjust the nozzles. :dunno:
Jam pin into the nozzle. Move nozzle in desired direction. You can also use the above tools... if necessary I'll post a video. I doubt very much the BAVauto tool has anything on a pin, though. What would be optimal is a long dowel that you can line up with the desired location on the windshield while attached to the nozzle, so you don't need to spray to test where it's going.

But as I posted elsewhere, DON'T DO IT IF YOU'RE HAPPY WITH THE CURRENT PATTERN. It's a royal PITA.
Just to report back, winter is almost over ... and I STILL haven't found the courage to grab the round Tuit and rip apart my windshield wiper system to identify the problem and fix this.

Interestingly, the message WIPER FLUID LOW is easy to see on my dash as shown in this test sequence for the CHECK FILLER CAP which I've removed for the past month as part of a test for the team:
- Loose gas cap has triggered Service Engine light


Or we could mount a laser on the end of a pin to see exactly where the shot came from, oops, I meant where the spray goes. :rofl: Been watching too much CSI...
What would be optimal is a long dowel that you can line up with the desired location on the windshield while attached to the nozzle, so you don't need to spray to test where it's going.
I apologize for not responding as I've still not gathered up the confidence to attack this problem systematically ... mainly because I am still (very) confused about the proper way of diagnosing and analyzing this problem.

Today, the pictures posted in this old resurrected thread seem to be appropriate for what is to come for me on this repair when I finally think I have a set of coherent steps to understand and diagnose this problem (for me and for others):
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Windshield fluid pump not working

While I'm still confused where to start (stuck like a deer in the headlights), these hints below give me some foundation of what to look for.

My first step (as always) will be to 'figure out' where everything is and how it works ... then I can go about diagnosing the problem.

Diagnosis procedure:
Before you go buying a new washer pump, remove the front right wheel and remove a portion of the wheel well covering to expose the tank. The pump is on the lower left side. First remove the fluid level sensor on the right side and drain the fluid into a bucket or something, before removing the pump. Often the pump and the lines near it get clogged with gunk. Remove it and clean it and flush the tank, then check the lines going up to the engine compartment and hood for any clogging. Replace the pump and fill a bit with water and test it. If still no sound, probably need a new pump. Check the fuse first, as you say.
To debug the washer pump:
common problem. Most likely your going to need a new washer pump, just go to the plug and check for voltage while your friend pulls the washer lever. if you get 12V or more change your washer pump.
To debug the lines:
Did you check all the lines? You have a crack in the line some where, like you said it could be your pump..........but the lines are a easier fix.
To test the fuse:
The fuses for the windshield washer are in the top of the glove box. Open the glove box, remove the flashlight (if yours is still there), find the two white plastic release screws on the top of the glove box, turn each 90 deg, the fuse block will drop down (pretty cool actually). The fuses you want to check are #2 and #4. Both are likely fine and you will be going into the right front wheel well for pump replacement.
DIY procedure:
I removed the screws, plugs and rivets to allow the passenger side front wheel well shield to be bent back giving access to the washer fluid reservoir and pumps. The picture below shows the reservoir and pumps.

If your E39 has headlight washers, there will be two pumps mounted on the side of the reservoir. The one closest to the middle is the main windshield pump. The one closest to the outside is for the headlights. My main pump was frozen. The second photo (below) shows the replacement pump, the new grommet with filter, and the two types of plugs and rivets needed to restore the wheel well shield.

  • When removing the wheel well dirt shield, pry out the plastic plug at the bottom and closest to the center of the car. If it is a modern plug as pictured above, the smaller section of the top will side out when you pry on it. This will release the plug.
  • The small plastic rivets on the fender lip have a center post which is pressed in when installed which cause the rivet to expand behind the sheet metal. You may be able to bend the shield out once all the screws are removed and press the "post" out of the rivets from behind allowing reuse. I just broke them off and installed new ones. A pry tool like a carpet tack remover is very helpful in removing the rivets and the plug.
  • You need to lift the tab on the electrical connectors to release. They release easily once the tab is gently lifted.
  • All pumps and sensors are attached to the reservoir through rubber grommets. They all pull straight out with a little wiggling.
Hints on not removing the wheel well:
After replacing two bad windshield washer pumps today, I opened the bad ones up to see if they were clogged. As you can see it looks like they both got water in them and rusted out. One was the intensive fluid pump under the hood and the other was the one under the front passenger wheel liner. I did not have to take front wheel off to get to the pump. Turning the wheel to the far left gave me enough room to get to the pump with just taking out the body panel rivets and two bottom wheel liner screws. Now I have working WW pumps. I found direct VDO replacement pumps from Autohauz for 20 bucks each. They did not require any rewiring, electrical connections fit perfect.


For the record, this thread today discusses some of the routing lines:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Windscreen washers stopped working

My impression is this
The main washer bottle is in the wheel fender. This is filled with blue stuff through (in mine) a white topped bottle neck near the left suspension turret iirc.
This washer bottle (in mine at least) has 2 pumps with their own fluid pipes attached. These pumps push-fit into rubber gromet type things which are mounted on the washer bottle.
The first pump (larger in size) feeds the headlight jets directly (with separate pipes).
The second pump (which is the same size as the pump on the intense washer bottle under the bonnet) feeds the windscreen washer jets directly.
The high intensity pump on the small washer bottle under the bonnet also feeds the windscreen jets directly (with separate pipes, up to a point) and is operated every 5th or 10th press of the stalk (can't remember exactly how many).
Somewhere in this maze there are also heaters for the jets too :)
It's not easy to find the parts diagrams on realoem, as they're scattered about under the electrical system (of all things):


pre-WINTER??????? Here in New York, it's June!!! Suppose I should get my long johns out just in case.
I've been paralyzed by indecision - because I just didn't understand the system (well enough to debug what to do).

With all the info above, it looks like the system is composed of the following:

The main pump & tank is located above the front passenger-side fender well, is filled from a filler pipe which is hose-clamped onto the main tank.

The main pump on the main tank (inside the wheel well) sends blue water up the one reservoir hose, which then splits off at a "Y" in the hood to innervate each of the two hood jets.

The cleaner pump on the cleaner tank (in the engine bay) sends cleaning fluid up its one reservoir hose, which then splits off at another "Y" in the hood to innervate each of the two hood jets.

The headlight pump on the main tank (inside the wheel well sends blue water up the one reservoir hose, which then splits off at a "distribution piece" (location unknown) to innervate each of the two hood jets.

There is no level sensing in the cleaner tank; but there is a two-part level indicator in the main tank.

Given the above, the two key questions remaining are:
Q1: Where is the headlight-washer "diverter valve" located?
Q2: Do the hood jets have TWO hoses attached to them?
Note: Only one hood-jet nipple is shown but two hoses are shown, one for the cleaning and one for the blue water.
Here in New York, it's June!!!
Quackers kindly answered the question of the number of hoses at the jets:
- How many hoses are connected to the windshield washer jets

I'll keep digging to find where the diverter
Q1: Where is the headlight-washer "diverter valve" located?
Q2: Do the hood jets have TWO hoses attached to them?
To further understand the system, I see that the headlight washer is not (apparently) heated (as there are apparently no wires going to it):
- Classifieds > Exterior > WTB: e39 headlight washer nozzles

To better understand how the system works and where the parts lie, I opened a separate thread asking for the location of the $10 headlight washer "distribution piece" (BMW P/N 61668361447).
- Where is the BMW E39 headlight washer system "distribution piece" physically located?

BTW, this QSilver7 picture is a nice one for showing what can be seen in the engine bay.

For the cross-linked record, a user posted a query today trying to figure out the innervation points of the intensive cleaning system hoses:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > need help w/ intensive windshield washer

The Realoem diagram confused him also.
To close the loop, the OP in that case found out, much to his dismay, the PO had replaced the dual-nozzle windshield jets with a single-nozzle setup, thereby negating the intensive cleaner routing.

The Realoem diagram confused him also.


For the record, the hose routing for the winter package E39 is being attempted here today:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Intensive Washer Question
Yikes! It rained today for the first time since, oh, about March ... and I 'still' haven't built up the mojo to tackle this ...

PS: This is what the weather was like (in Tahoe) in March of this year ... (that's the cabin we drove up to after five hours in traffic)...

Note: The snow was so deep you could walk on the three-story roof and from the ground, you could almost touch the power lines. The entire third floor bedroom was under snow and the second floor windows were encased in an ice cave!

It's times like that that you realize windshield washers are a necessary item!

Across the street:
Oh oh ... gotta get ready for winter again ... and I 'still' haven't gotten the mojo to get dirty and diagnose my windshield washer system.

I'd better hurry as I already have a few Tahoe trips planned!

Here's a shot of the car in front of me on my trip to Tahoe just a few months ago (March 28th, 2011):

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