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How to Fix a BMW X3 Washer Fluid Leak

Updated on March 25, 2016

If you have a 2006 BMW X3 and you find your windshield washer fluid light keeps coming on, even shortly after you filled it up, you probably have a washer fluid leak. What's more, it might not be a crack in the washer tank itself. These cars tend to spring leaks in the washer pumps and/or the grommets that hold the pump in the tank. I had mine filled and less than a week later the low fluid light came on. Indeed, the fluid was leaking out slowly, so slowly in fact that it was never reaching the ground because it was evaporating under the hood.

  • The first step is to determine the cause of the leak.

Look under the hood and inspect the washer tank. You'll find it on the passenger side (see first image below). If you determine that the tank is not leaking, then it's probably one of the pumps and/or rubber grommets that has sprung a leak. Look at the front of the tank between the tank and the headlight. You'll see the two black pumps. The pump on the right, closer to the engine, is for the windshield. In my case this is where the leak was. I could tell by the blue residue left on the sides of the pump by the leaking fluid. I also turned the key on and squirted the window a bit with the washers. I could tell there was newly leaked washer fluid under the basin.

  • To replace the washer fluid pump and/or strainer grommet:

If you need to replace a leaking pump, I suggest also replacing the strainer grommet at the same time. It's cheap and will ensure the seal between the pump and grommet don't leak later. All told, you'll need less than $50 worth of parts, which if you've ever paid a mechanic or dealer for BMW repairs, you'll know is a relatively cheap repair.

Parts needed:

I ordered my parts from Amazon and they arrived quickly. Make sure to enter you car year and model, just to ensure that Amazon proofs the right fit for your car. It will tell you whether you have the exact part or not. I find for many parts Amazon has great prices and fast shipping (and free for many orders over $25).

To remove the basin, find the single hex bolt holding the whole thing on.
To remove the basin, find the single hex bolt holding the whole thing on.
Once the bolt is removed, pull the basin out and tilt it upward so the remaining fluid won't leak when you pull out the pump. This assumes MOST of the fluid has already leaked out and only a little remains in the very bottom.
Once the bolt is removed, pull the basin out and tilt it upward so the remaining fluid won't leak when you pull out the pump. This assumes MOST of the fluid has already leaked out and only a little remains in the very bottom.
A diagram of the main parts and how to remove the pump.
A diagram of the main parts and how to remove the pump.
To remove the electrical caps, pinch the top together with two fingers and pull straight up.  There is a small tab that releases the locking clip.  When installing, push back on until the clip clicks back into place.
To remove the electrical caps, pinch the top together with two fingers and pull straight up. There is a small tab that releases the locking clip. When installing, push back on until the clip clicks back into place.
The old leaky pump after removal.
The old leaky pump after removal.

Steps:

  1. Under the hood, loosen the one hex screw that holds the entire basin to the frame (see the first image).
  2. Once the basin is loose, pull it up carefully and tilt it backwards a bit so that the remaining washer fluid will not spill out of the hole when you remove the damaged pump (see second image).
  3. Following along with the third image, remove the electrical cap from the top of the pump. Then remove the fluid supply line that connects to the side of the pump. Lift the pump upwards to remove it from the rubber grommet. The pump should now be free.
  4. Remove the old rubber grommet by pulling and wiggling it out. Replace with the new rubber grommet and strainer combo by pushing it firmly back into the hole.
  5. Place the new pump into the plastic holder on the side of the basin and insert the tip into the grommet. Reattach the fluid supply line and reattach the electrical cap until it clicks snugly into place.
  6. Re-install the basin back into its place taking care to route the front fluid and electrical lines so that they do not snag anywhere. Line up the screw holes and reattach the hex screw and tighten to finish the re-installation.
  7. Refill your washer basin and try the washers to test the new motor. They should work and you should not have a leak.

Voila, you've repaired your leak and saved yourself a good bit of money.

This repair was done on a 2006 BMW X3 washer tank, but in order to make sure your X3 model year (or other BMW) has the same style of washer tank, check under the hood first and make sure you order the correct parts for your year.

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    • profile image

      HT 20 months ago

      Thanks! Just followed your step by step guide and got it done...

    • profile image

      David 21 months ago

      Moser1 I think I have the same problem as you. I replaced the pump and grommet and the rear works fine, but the front does not spray. The same pump works on the rear. Did you find a solution?

    • profile image

      Moser1 2 years ago

      My 2005 X3 has 3 pumps - presumably, 1 for the windshield, 1 for back hatch and 1 for headlights. I read that the pump on the in-baord side of tank is for windshield. I replaced that, and windshield spray still not working (other two function fine). I flipped the pumps, putting the new on the outboard side, still no windshield spray (while other two worked fine). I started to change out one on rear of tank, but it was different (bigger) than the two on the front (and the fluid line seemed to go off to the rear of car.

      WHAT IS MY NEXT STEP? Can anyone deduce what component has failed if condition persists after changing out in-board then out-board pumps?????

    • profile image

      Pete 2 years ago

      Thanks Johnny. I'll check the electrical connection to be sure that's not it before ordering a new pump.

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 2 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Hello @Pete, there should be a separate pump for the rear and headlight sprayers, so if you're not hearing any motor sound and getting no spray on the windshield then either that pump is bad or the electrical connection is not solid and it's not powering the pump.

    • profile image

      Pete 2 years ago

      When I try to spray the windshield the pump doesn't make any sound like its trying to work. The spray works for the rear and headlights though. Does this suggest to you that the pump needs to be replaced?

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 2 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Hard to say @Tom. I assume the pump was working before (ie: was it spraying and making noise but just leaking) or was it not working at all? If the old motor was working and the new motor is installed and makes no noise at all and does not spray check that the electrical connection is secure. If it is, would anything have perhaps tripped a fuse (worth a check). Finally, it could be a DOA motor. If the prior motor was still working you could try installing it to see if the electrical connection is ok (ie: if that old motor still makes noise when activated, it's not the electical).

    • profile image

      Tom 2 years ago

      I went to replace the pump. It does not work and now the washers front wipers do not work. Did I so something wrong?

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      PeteK 3 years ago

      Super! Very nice article made my life easy and saved me over $200 from dealership.

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 3 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Hi @Cole, I'm not sure which is the front/rear pump. You could try following the fluid tubes to see if that will give you an indication. If you only have 2 pumps mounted on the front of the tank they should be exactly the same pump. On some models there is a 3rd pump mounted toward the back of the tank that I "think" is for headlight sprayers?

    • profile image

      Cole 3 years ago

      Do you know which one is the front and which one is the rear? I have 2007 X3.

      Thanks

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 3 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Great @jeffgolden ... i'm glad this helped. As you know with BMW's even the small stuff can be expensive. I have documented a few of the "fixes" i've done here, including replacing filters and reading OBDII codes for yourself in hopes of helping others out.

    • profile image

      jefftgolden 3 years ago

      thanks for the detailed how to. BMW dealership quoted me $185 to do this. Just ordered the parts and looked at what's there now. Going to get this done easily and save a ton of money.

      Thanks!

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 3 years ago from Salt Lake City

      @Chris that does sound like that wiring harness might be bad, i'm not sure what is involved to replace that as I have never done it. Check out some of the BMW forums and see if perhaps there are some tutorials or posts that have experienced similar problems ... sorry I can't be of more help.

    • profile image

      Chris 3 years ago

      Jonny, Great instructions. Had a cracked front wiper pump. Ordered a new pump from the amazon link, installed it with no problem. However, there is one problem. After I installed my new pump it still didn't work. I switched the electronic cables and the new pump works. This led me to believe I also have an electrical problem. Checked the fuses and they are all fine. Any suggestions?

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 3 years ago from Salt Lake City

      So @Kawana, if your washer fluid is low there should be a separate warning light just for that which looks like a windshield with water spraying (check your owners manual). The Service Engine Soon light could be anything, but you can get an OBDII code reader and read the fault codes yourself then Google them to see what the engine computer is saying the problem is. I have another post regarding this you can see here: https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/ELM327-Bluetoot...

    • profile image

      Kawana 3 years ago

      I purchased an 2006 BMW x3 with 62000 miles. I have been have issues with the "service engine soon" light coming on frequently. I also noticed that the wiper fluid leak. I'm wondering if this could be the issue that is triggering the service engine light to come on...a little concerned that BWM can't seem to find the problem

    • johnnyvest profile image
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      johnnyvest 3 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Hi @Ben, so it sounds like the plastic eblow joint on the fluid line is leaking or it's damaged and you can't remove it from the pump? Sounds like it might need to be replaced, not sure if you can replace just the elbow joint on the line or if you have to replace the entire line itself. I'm having a hard time finding any replacement parts for that in searches, might be such a specific part that you'd need to call a dealer and maybe get a part number.

    • profile image

      Ben 3 years ago

      Any idea on what to do is the fluid line elbow is damaged?

    • profile image

      Steve 4 years ago

      Great instructions. My rear washer now works perfectly. The old pump looked exactly like the picture above...not leaky, but just did not work. I also replaced the grommet while I was replacing the pump. Thanks for a terrific post.

    • profile image

      Gavin Lowe 4 years ago

      Thanks very much for these detailed instructions. I was all set to go to the mechanic with non-functioning washer jets. But no, your instructions and 10 minutes later, Shazam!!!

    • profile image

      Mario 4 years ago

      Just wanted to say thanks for posting these very clear instructions didn't take long to replace.... now i have to figure out what the 3rd pump is for on my 2004 x3, I believe you maybe mentioned that it could be for the headlight sprayer... Well Thank you again for your post.

    • profile image

      Kathleen Walek 4 years ago

      This post and extra photo very much appreciated; just completed the pump/grommet replacement and put in washer fluid to check for leaks - so far so good! ps: Mine is a 2005 X3 and the install was the same.

    • johnnyvest profile image
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      johnnyvest 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      @kathleen i just added another photo and caption showing the top of the electrical cap. There is a tab that when squeezed releases the locking mechanism that holds the cap on. You just pinch/squeeze it together and pull the cap straight up and it should come off. Re-installing you will hear the caps click back into place when you push them on.

    • profile image

      kathleen 4 years ago

      How do you pull the electrical caps off once the pumps are loose?

    • johnnyvest profile image
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      johnnyvest 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Awesome @CaliDood. These BMW's are great cars but maintenance can get expensive so i'm glad it helped!

    • profile image

      CaliDood 4 years ago

      Just wanted to say thanks for writing this up so well, and for the clear pictures. This worked great on my wife's 2008 X3 and saved me a bunch of time!

    • johnnyvest profile image
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      johnnyvest 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      That's awesome. Let me know how your installation goes and if i can improve on these instructions at all (or if i left something important out). This fix should save you at least $60 and frankly, probably will take less time than going to a dealer to have it fixed (my dealer quoted $65 for the pump and so i doubt i would get out of there for less than $100 total installed, and that's being pretty conservative i think).

    • jehill12 profile image

      jehill12 4 years ago

      Ordered the parts, came in 2 days. Super easy installation thanks to your instructions and links! Thanks again.

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Oh that's ok. I added two links in the text as well so it was probably me! Good luck with it, this problem really seems to be an issue with the X3. I just checked my aunt's 2008 the other day and lo and behold one of her washer pumps had a slight leak too, just enough to leak when the pump was activated. You might check your strainer grommet first because if it is just that you can replace for about $5 ... but for me i'm 2 for 2 with the pump itself being the leaky culprit.

    • jehill12 profile image

      jehill12 4 years ago

      Thx. I guess the links weren't visible until I signed up for HubPages

    • johnnyvest profile image
      Author

      johnnyvest 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Yes the 2 pumps should be the same. One is for the windshield sprayers and the other is for the rear window sprayer (at least on my 2006). I have also seen a 3rd pump on a 2008 model and i'm not sure what it's for (possibly headlight sprayer). The link in my article is beneath it entitled "BMW X3 Replacement Washer Pump" which i believe links to the one you are referencing (if yours is on Amazon sold by Autopartsway). In any case, whatever site you order from you should be able to enter your model and year to make sure the part fits. If the site you're looking at isn't clear about it you may want to just call them to make sure. You can also find pumps on eBay, etc.

    • jehill12 profile image

      jehill12 4 years ago

      I noticed in the picture that there seems to be 2 pumps. Are they the same? One for the front wipers and one for the back? The links for the parts are missing from the article. I found this part on Amazon for 2006 BMW X3. VDO Windshield Washer Pump by VDO for $35.12 sold by Autopartsway. Is this the correct pump? Thanks.