Today, when having a notification about low washer fluid level, I thought of my previous car that didn't have washer fluid sensor. I ran several times completely out of washer fluid. Yet in this particular car, this resulted in no bad effects.

Is running completely out of washer fluid harmful? Can it damage something such as the windshield washer fluid pump?

My experience with the previous car would indicate the answer is "no", but this would be a generalization from one car to all cars.

Let's ignore the obvious danger effects of long drives in dirty conditions and focus only on mechanical effects in the car.

  • Most pump types do not like being operated dry, IMO the only damage would be due to overuse of the pump with no fluid to lubricate and cool it. Dec 24, 2017 at 5:18

1 Answer 1


As most pumps have the motor external to the fluid then cooling is not an issue as they are only designed for intermittant use. The pump is usually a vane type design so there is little or no friction between the vanes and the body so lubrication there is not an issue, ergo the running of the pump for brief periods is not a problem - most drivers stop operating the switch once they realise the lack of fluid....

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