The BMW E46 wiper and washer system consists of the following:
- Windshield wiper motor, arms and blades.
- Tailgate window wiper motor, arm and blade (SportWagon).
- Washer fluid reservoir with fluid level sensor in engine compartment.
- Windshield washer pump in fluid reservoir.
- Headlight washer pump in fluid reservoir (if equipped).
- Tailgate window washer fluid reservoir in right rear, behind trim panel (SportWagon).
- Tailgate window washer pump in rear fluid reservoir (SportWagon).
- Heated headlight washer nozzles in engine hood.
- Headlight washer nozzles in front bumper (if equipped).
- Tailgate window washer nozzle in rubber strip at top of tailgate window (SportWagon).
- Wiper and washer switch at the right side of the steering column -- the switch controls the wiper intervals and other functions via the General Module (GM V).
- Rain sensor at top of windshield (if equipped).
The windshield washer pump is responsible for pressurizing and pumping washer fluid to the windshield; a separate pump supplies washer fluid to headlight washer nozzles. The washer pumps and pump sealing grommets can leak. When left unrepaired for some time, washer fluid ruins the electrical connector leaving your windshield washer pump(s) inoperative. It is important to deal with the fluid leak immediately; replace the washer pump and grommet together.
In this tech article I will go over how to test and replace the windshield washer pump.
To avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.
Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.
Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.
Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.
Remove 10mm washer reservoir fastener then lift washer tank up to access washer pump (green arrows). Disconnect level sensor by pressing release tab and pulling off. Pull washer pump out of washer reservoir. Have a bucket nearby to place washer reservoir in; fluid will leak out.
Disconnect electrical connector by pressing release tab and pulling off. Note: Brown wire at connector is ground, other wire (color may vary) will be battery positive sent to pump when washer button is pressed.
Connect a test light or DVOM across washer pump electrical connector terminals. Press washer button, test light will light. DVOM will read 12 volts.
Keep in mind, a test light may light with a low supply voltage. I suggest load testing using a test light and a DVOM. Connect DVOM across washer pump electrical connector terminals and take a reading, it should read battery volts when washer button is pressed. Then connect an incandescent bulb-style test light to battery ground and touch the test light probe tip the positive wire you are backprobing with DVOM. Your reading should hold steady, a maximum drop in voltage of 0.5 volts is OK. Anything more, like shown here in this photo is a problem. The connector was faulty. The initial reading was 12.1 volts, when loaded it dropped to 10.6 volts. You can test the ground of the pump the same way. Connect your DVOM to the brown wire at connector, then battery negative, you should have a reading close to 0.0 volts. Then connect an incandescent bulb style test light to battery positive (you can use jump start stud under hood) and touch the test light probe tip the positive wire you are backprobing with your DVOM at the brown wire. The voltage reading should change more than a 0.2 volts.
This photo shows the same test as above, but with a good connector. You can see when loaded the voltage is holding at battery volts (note: engine was running). If you find a problem with the connector, replace the pigtail with new. Cut the harness back enough to find good, clean wire, then butt connect and seal harness. Always replace washer pump and grommet if you find an issue with the connector, as a washer fluid leak likely damaged the connector.