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.
I realize this is an old thread, but I like the pictures as I'm 'still scared about getting 'into' this repair myself.The pumps are not expensive and a fairly easy job. And a satisfying hours work.
So what if there is a 3rd pump on that tank? I have a 2 smaller ones closest to the engine and one large one farthest away. I have found that the front washers are the middle one. Reason being is the two wires going to the big outer one are both grounded and I am pretty sure that shouldn't happen. ThanksI 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 reservior and pumps.
View attachment 159219
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.
View attachment 159223
Hope this helps.
- 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.