Dirty glass, no squirt. What's a guy to do?

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: October 6, 2010 - 5:17 PM

Q I have a 2007 Saturn Vue with 40,000 miles. My windshield washer fluid won't "squirt." Yes, the reservoir is full. What is this going to cost me?

A Start by listening for the operation of the washer pump, which is in the bottom of the washer reservoir. If the pump does not run, check the wiper system fuses and relays in the underhood fuse panel. However, if the wipers operate, the problem is just with the washer system. Unplug the electrical connector from the pump and check for voltage to the pump with a test light or voltmeter. If voltage is reaching the pump when the washer is activated, the pump has failed. If no voltage is present, the problem is in the switch, harness or the body control module.

If the pump operates, there may be some type of blockage. Start at the nozzles aimed at the windshield. Follow the tubes from the nozzles back to the first connection that can be separated and check for fluid flow. If fluid is being delivered at this junction, the blockage is in the tubes or nozzles. If there's no fluid delivery, the pump's filter may be clogged. Remove the pump from the bottom of the reservoir, then remove and clean the filter.

Basic troubleshooting is a fairly simple do-it-yourself project. If the problem is in the pump motor, harness or switch, leave it to a pro. The washer pump costs less than $35, and replacement takes just over half an hour.

Q I have a 2005 Honda Odyssey. It developed a seemingly innocuous intermittent low-frequency sound and vibration at about 47,000 miles. The dealer diagnosed the cause as a broken rear motor mount. The replacement was quoted at more than $795. Can I drive this vehicle with a broken mount?

A I don't recommend it. In addition to the annoying vibration, movement of the drivetrain puts additional stress on driveshafts and the other mounts. Checking my Alldata database, the rear engine mount is about $550 on vehicles with the variable cylinder management system (which shuts down some of the engine's cylinders to save fuel), but only about $115 for vehicles that don't have the system. Labor is about 1 1/2 hours. You can also shop around among independent shops.

Q I have a 2002 VW Passat with the 1.8-liter turbo engine with about 132,000 miles. When I top off the fuel tank and park in the garage overnight, there is a very strong odor of gasoline. I am careful to not spill any fuel and stop fueling when the pump clicks off. When driven a day and the fuel level drops, there is no odor. There is no sign of any leaks.

A Since the fuel odor only occurs after the tank is filled completely, the evaporative emission system is suspect. This system traps and stores fuel vapor from the tank in the charcoal canister. The purge valve, controlled by the engine management system, opens to allow the vapor to be drawn into the induction system and burned. Usually, a significant evap leak will trigger a check-engine light.

Any type of leak -- vapor or fuel -- from any of the hoses or plumbing with the evap system could cause the odor. Also, if the fuel tank has been repeatedly overfilled by "fuel packing," liquid fuel can be forced into the charcoal canister, creating a fuel smell.

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