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Thread: Windshield Wiper Hose Disintegration

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    West Michigan
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)

    Exclamation Windshield Wiper Hose Disintegration

    Issue:
    I filled my windshield wiper reservoir, but I was getting absolutely no fluid from the washer nozzles and then eventually, the "low wiper fluid level" warning.
    Even though I could hear it running, I thought my pump might be on its way out and the sensor was on the fritz as well.

    Diagnosis:
    I discovered that somehow all the wiper fluid was vanishing even though there wasn't any fluid coming out of the wiper. I found out what was causing the problem.




    The portion of the wiper fluid hoses directly above the engine were completely brittle and heat damaged. Just touching them made them disintegrate.

    Solution/fix:
    I went to Home Depot and found some comparable hose and connectors to replace the damaged sections not really knowing much about the existing OE configuration. I can't remember the exact size of the replacement hose (I used a sample of the old hose to match the diameter), but the connectors are 3/16" I believe. You will need to buy about 4.5' of tubing.
    Also, I couldn't find plastic connectors so I bought brass ones.

    Here is a shot of where the offending hoses reside...


    I pulled the insulation out and folded it using a small vice grip so I could see all of the components. Then I had to pull the old tubing out and thread the new tubing into place. The hardest part was pushing the new hose onto the connectors. An extremely tight fit.
    These shots are of the completed repair. (It's not beautiful work, but it is fully functional.)...

    You can see the brass connector here where I found that my longer hose was not quite long enough. I had to splice in another small section.


    I also had to use a lighter to slightly heat the ends of the hoses to make them pliable enough to slide over the barbed connectors.


    What I thought was two hoses coming through the rubber grommet was actually one fluid hose and an insulating sheath housing electrical wires. After the hose threads into the hood, there is a three way plastic splitter connector hidden in between the two hood skins. Luckily, the connector survived and I was able to reuse it, so you may want to find a comparable replacement when you shop for supplies.


    Here you can see where the three way connector was hidden.



    I had problems rethreading the hose through the flex hose, so I just zip tied it to prevent it from getting pinched or crimped when closing the hood.




    This is where I disconnected the old hose and put in the new. Luckily, this part of the existing hose is still pliable and undamaged by the heat in the engine compartment.




    I also used WD-40 sparingly to help insert the connectors into the hoses. I would not have been able to complete this fix without it.
    So far, so good. I now have a functioning wiper fluid system again.
    If you are in a pinch or can't get the OEM replacement hoses, this is a good alternative.
    Total cost of repairs... $5.00!
    Last edited by jamesdc4; 12-04-2010 at 03:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Allen,TX
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    184
    My Cars
    '91 318i '99 540iT
    Good to know, mine has quit on me I will look into this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Chicago South IL
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    My Cars
    2003 530i Sport
    i bought my from dealer - 35$

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
    i bought my from dealer - 35$
    Did you install it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Malaysia
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    My Cars
    '04 525i
    i too did this replacement before and if found it too difficult and tight to route the small hose back thru the big black flexible hose so i slit the big flex hose lengthwise,stuffed the small hose in and sealed the cut with black colored electrical tape.can hardly notice the surgery...............

    attached is the path (in yellow) where the big flex plastic hose shud be routed or otherwise it will be pinched when the bonnet is closed
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by moots; 12-04-2010 at 06:04 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Chucktown, South Carolina
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    03 540I, 07 Yukon
    Strange.... ...I just found mine in the same condition....Purchased this off ebay....Paid more for it but it lets me keep it original...

    Will install today.......

    Sorry...Link is down.....I'll edit this late with a pic...

    Sorry again...I still have not installed the hoses yet but they're plug and play and OEM......

    Last edited by Jasnite; 12-07-2010 at 05:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdc4 View Post
    Did you install it?
    sure
    plug and play and looks OEM

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1308213
    Last edited by champaign777; 12-04-2010 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    West Michigan
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)
    Quote Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
    Thanks for the response.
    I had to do this fix quickly because I needed the car functional in a lake effect snow storm. This was the quickest fix I could devise.
    One thing is for sure, the search feature on the forums leaves much to be desired. I set the forum view to "from the beginning" and did a search on "windshield washer hoses". Nada!
    I may consider gong the OEM route eventually, but if this fix holds up, I might not. With the insulation flap in place, you can't see any of the plumbing. And what you do see from the rubber grommet to the connector at the passenger side of the engine compartment looks OE except for where I couldn't get the tubing fed through the flex hose.
    Last edited by jamesdc4; 12-04-2010 at 03:35 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Van Alstyne, TX
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    135
    My Cars
    2006 BMW Z4 3.0si 6MT
    Very common issue on these older cars. I replaced my hoses this past spring. I bought them parts off of the web and replaced the eyelets on the hood at the same time. Works like brand new now. Don't remember what I spenton parts but it was cheap enough for me to just do it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Chicago, IL
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    My Cars
    99' 540i/6, HD1200N
    Awesome I am having the same problem. Glad to always find good material on here. thanks!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    '02 525iT, '91 535
    Thanks for a great DIY for a complete replacement.

    I have successfully used heat shrink tubing to join broken sections of washer lines.
    6mm (1/4 in) inside diameter will fit over OE tubing.

    I used a soldering iron to heat the tubing because open flames and engines don't mix.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    West Michigan
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)
    Quote Originally Posted by TXS2000 View Post
    and replaced the eyelets on the hood at the same time. Works like brand new now.
    Why did you replace the spray nozzle housings?
    Quote Originally Posted by giggidiesbimmer View Post
    Awesome I am having the same problem. Glad to always find good material on here. thanks!
    You're welcome.
    Quote Originally Posted by maigo View Post
    Thanks for a great DIY for a complete replacement.

    I have successfully used heat shrink tubing to join broken sections of washer lines.
    6mm (1/4 in) inside diameter will fit over OE tubing.

    I used a soldering iron to heat the tubing because open flames and engines don't mix.
    Great idea for a fix. When I discovered the problem, I barely touched the hose where it connects to the nozzle housing and it just broke into pieces. There was nothing for me to use shrink tubing on, but I'm sure someone will be able to employ the idea.
    Thanks for posting it up.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Cowtown -The Great NW
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    2003 530iA
    Hello. Quick question:
    Would PVC tube fare better (the transparent kind)? I am asking because I know it's more pliable. Also, on the connectors maybe a screw-on clamp could be used (if there is one that small of a diameter)?
    Thanks
    Looking for a DIY? Parts? Check this out, it might be your ticket

    Stable: e92is, e53 N62, e46M54B25, Tribby & e39 M54B30 R.I.P.

  14. #14
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)
    Quote Originally Posted by Doru View Post
    Hello. Quick question:
    Would PVC tube fare better (the transparent kind)? I am asking because I know it's more pliable. Also, on the connectors maybe a screw-on clamp could be used (if there is one that small of a diameter)?
    Thanks
    Excellent timing, Doru.
    I've been smelling burning rubber occasionally after the car is at temperature. The non-oem tubing should only be a temp. fix imo. If you are looking to save a little money, you should make sure the tubing can withstand high temps.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Falls Church, VA
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    13
    My Cars
    01 530i
    I just joined the disintegrating-hose-club myself on Saturday. An ebay search turned up 3 sellers, roughly $40-60 for the complete setup (as jasnite shows above). Perhaps my searching skills are off, but could not find this at pelicanparts or the other usual parts sources.

    Karl G.
    01 530i 111k

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
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    My Cars
    1997 BMW 528i
    Just completed my first official DIY project on my 97 528i thanks to this write up. Neither my local auto parts store nor the home depot had the black type of tubing that would work. So I went with the clear vinyl tubing. I hope this holds up. I don't use my windshield washers that often, but hate for something not to be working.

    I replaced all the tubing down to the same spot that james did. I really didn't have any problem threading the new tubing down the flex hose after I removed the old brittle stuff.

    Thanks to this write up, it was a breeze because I was prepared for how tough it would be to get the tubing on the connectors.

    My windshield wiper fluid works again!! Thanks james.

    PS...

    If the non-oem tubing will not withstand the heat, then i will spend the money and go OEM. But at least I will know how to do the job now.
    Last edited by jdawg713; 03-02-2011 at 06:58 PM. Reason: adding postscript

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Qld Australia
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    E30 323i - E28 M535i
    I think it ironic how reference is made to using oem tubing when clearly it (oem) doesn't cut the mustard.

    Mine has failed also, however down on the side of the guard where the tubing does a U turn back to the pump.

    One would think that this tubing, in the very hot region it lives in, would have been better engineered out of stainless. It would've then had a (car) life long expectancy.

    I suspect as it is not a safety feature (of sorts) then cost savings were in order, same as our cup holders.

    Just sayin.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    UK, Dorset
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    1
    My Cars
    1997 BMW 540 E39
    Hey Everyone,

    Does anybody know where i can buy the washer jets themselves??

    ive got the tubing but need washer jets

    thanks



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Los Gatos CA
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    1987 325is, e34, Z3, e39
    I just finished repairing the tubing and a washer nozzle on my e39.

    The tubing is approximately 4.5mm ID, 6mm OD with a 0.75 or 0.80mm wall thickness. It appears to be made of polyethylene ("PE"). Black irrigation tubing appears to be a very close match, however I used thicker 3/16 ID (5/16 OD) translucent PE ($0.25/foot).

    Either type of tubing will need to be warm before connecting. The warmer the better. Hot is even better. PE softens at about 90C, while the nozzle softens at 175C so you have a pretty wide window. I used a hot air gun. A hair dryer would work, or dunking the end in a cup of hot water.

    The nozzle fix was a bit more challenging. The clips that held the two body parts together were broken. It appeared that someone had opened it, perhaps to clean it out. Luckily the internal parts were all there -- two one-way valves with springs and rubber plugs. The nozzle body is made of POM/acetal, which is notoriously difficult to adhere to. One approach is to modify the surface energy state by scorching it with heated acid, plasma discharge or a briefly applied flame. I delayed my planned wire and epoxy fix (JB Weld), until I ran out of time. That turned out to be fortuitous. I ended up using a hot melt glue, with the hope that it would be reversible. I found during installation that the nozzle body is a very tight fit into the hood, and I needed to remove all added glue on the sides to fit it in place.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
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    46
    My Cars
    1996 BMW M3 Coupe
    Just experienced the same problem this weekend. Was going to buy the hose/wiring harness but will try the Home Depot fix first. Thanks jamesdc4 for the nice write up and photos!!
    Dave
    1996 E36 M3 track car
    2002 540i daily driver

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
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    1996 BMW M3 Coupe
    Just experienced the same problem this weekend. Was going to buy the hose/wiring harness but will try the Home Depot fix first. Thanks jamesdc4 for the nice write up and photos!!
    Dave
    1996 E36 M3 track car
    2002 540i daily driver

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    57
    My Cars
    E39 wagon. FZ1.
    Wow, that was a huge pain in the ass! Thanks to all for posting up solutions.

    I went to the autoparts store and replaced the section from the Y up to the jets.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    West Michigan
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)

    Follow up...

    I purchased the OE replacement kit today and replaced my rigged parts. The DIY was relatively easy, but I'd recommend getting the extra hose shown on the left below. I only got the hoses, wiring and harness on the right.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jasnite View Post
    I couldn't get the connector out of the hose to the reservoir (shown below). I had to cut the hose and you guessed it, brittle as hell. I had to come up with a temp solution using the existing rigged hose. It feels solid and works great, but I may have to revisit it again if it fails.



    Also, my hood heat shield wouldn't stay in place. It's only held by two flaps that insert into slots on the hood inner skin, and because of age and wear, it just flops open. I punched a small hole in the shielding on each side, and used zip ties to secure the flap. Worked like a charm.
    Last edited by jamesdc4; 09-10-2012 at 05:24 PM.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Carlsbad, CA
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    2002 525i
    Just did this on mine. Used Home Depot 1/4" irrigation hose - fits very snugly! If you use it and don't have (or are too cheap, like me, to buy) a heat gun, just use a bowl of boiling water to soften up the ends before you fit them.
    Another tip regarding the flex hose next to the hood mount - cut the zip tie to give it more flexibility, and as you push the hose through try and keep the area where the end of the hose is as straight as possible to prevent it fouling on the sides. Once you're done, just zip-tie it back in place.
    I also found that you can remove the elbow connectors from the back of the nozzles so you can set up and make all the connections without having to stretch across the engine bay.

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    West Michigan
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    98 540iA (Prd 11/97)
    Quote Originally Posted by dieselbug View Post
    Just did this on mine. Used Home Depot 1/4" irrigation hose - fits very snugly! If you use it and don't have (or are too cheap, like me, to buy) a heat gun, just use a bowl of boiling water to soften up the ends before you fit them.
    Another tip regarding the flex hose next to the hood mount - cut the zip tie to give it more flexibility, and as you push the hose through try and keep the area where the end of the hose is as straight as possible to prevent it fouling on the sides. Once you're done, just zip-tie it back in place.
    I also found that you can remove the elbow connectors from the back of the nozzles so you can set up and make all the connections without having to stretch across the engine bay.
    Thanks for the tips. Good info.!

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