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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For the first time in 54k miles, my car popped up a "low windshield washer fluid" warning. Seemed appropriate after that length of time, so I went ahead and added almost a gallon of solvent.

The next day, I went down to the garage to see a trickle of blue liquid coming out from under the car and flowing out the garage door. When I sat inside the car, it once again complained about "low windshield washer fluid". Uh-oh.

After making sure that the tubes connecting the wiper nozzles to the washer pump/reservoir were still connected, I decided that I needed to fix or replace my windshield washer fluid reservoir or pump. Getting it out of the car is a bit involved, as it's crammed up against the firewall to help leave room for a nice-sized frunk. In order to get to it, you must first remove:
  • The frunk
  • All the plastic covers between the frunk and the windshield.
  • The wiper arms (get a two-arm puller to do this - it's SO much easier).
  • The wiper motor and associated mechanisms (yep, it's mounted over top of the reservoir - just three bolts though)
  • The left-front wheel & the back half of the wheel well liner (the bottom bolt holding the reservoir in place is accessed via the wheel well).
Everything was pretty easy to get apart if you have appropriate tools. Most bolts were 10mm, but the wiper arm bolts were 25mm, IIRC. Definitely get a two-arm puller to remove the wiper arms. I bought this one, and it worked perfectly:


Once the reservoir was out, I filled it up with water and looked for leaks. I was hoping it was a leak just in the reservoir itself, and not a leak in the pump, as that would probably require a replacement. Turns out that I had a small pinhole in the reservoir itself. It appeared to be in the middle of a crease, which leads me to believe that this is a manufacturing defect. At least, I didn't see anything that looked like rodent teeth marks that would point to a different cause.

I slapped some JB Weld over the hole, and so far it seems to be working very well. I had priced replacement reservoir/pumps on ebay, and they seemed to be going for $100-$200.

Here's a picture of the entire back side of my reservoir.



Here are closeups of the problem area, both before and after the application of JB Weld.

 

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Nice work to fix the problem on the cheap. Do you think silicone would have worked?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nice work to fix the problem on the cheap. Do you think silicone would have worked?
Yep. Duct tape probably would have worked too - it was just a very light trickle coming out a pinhole. But since it's a bit of a pain to get it out of the car, JB Weld is a much more robust solution, and quite easy to use.
 

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I would recommend JB weld if you don't want to take the bottle back out again - it's an epoxy that bonds to plastic in wet environments, and is permanent. Silicone will shrink in hot environments, and duct tape will peel off just over time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, it turns out that JB Weld is NOT good for this kind of a repair. :)

The leak re-appeared. When I took out the reservoir, I found it to be leaking at the same spot as my repair.

Permatex makes a Plastic Tank Repair Kit, so I bought one of those. Every place online lists it for about $15, but my local Advance Auto had it for $9 in the store.


I was able to scrape off the JB Weld with a razor blade scraper, then I cleaned the area and followed the instructions on the kit. I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping that it holds this time.

 

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I think I have this problem, or at least a leak of some kind from my reservoir, in my 2018 model 3. Started getting the low fluid warning so I filled the reservoir and the next day, the warning popped up again. Haven’t noticed any fluid on my garage floor, but maybe it dumped out on the road or at work? Checked the hoses coming from the reservoir and they all seem to be connected properly. Removing the reservoir and pump is beyond my comfort level. Any idea how much Tesla charges for something like this out of warranty?
 

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Any idea how much Tesla charges for something like this out of warranty?
You’ll find out if you schedule the service, but my wild guess would be $500 or so. That’s based on a likely replacement reservoir price of, say, $200, plus two hours of labor @ $175/hr given what @garsh had to go through to get to the part. That’s assuming reservoir replacement (Tesla would not try to fix the old one) but since you’re not seeing the leak, it could be the motor or something else. Add time for diagnosis, maybe more parts, etc.

Good luck with this, and sorry to learn of it.
 

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My M3 has this same issue. Tesla quoted $336 to make the repair. btw, the reservoir is removed from the vehicle differently than as described above. The tank is removed from the left wheel well. I'll attach images from the service manual that shows the process.
 

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My M3 has this same issue. Tesla quoted $336 to make the repair. btw, the reservoir is removed from the vehicle differently than as described above. The tank is removed from the left wheel well. I'll attach images from the service manual that shows the process.
If that's the cost, it's likely the tank costs just under $100, and the rest is book time (anything involving disassembly is going to be more than 1 hr of labor).
 

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I think I have this problem, or at least a leak of some kind from my reservoir, in my 2018 model 3. Started getting the low fluid warning so I filled the reservoir and the next day, the warning popped up again. Haven’t noticed any fluid on my garage floor, but maybe it dumped out on the road or at work? Checked the hoses coming from the reservoir and they all seem to be connected properly. Removing the reservoir and pump is beyond my comfort level. Any idea how much Tesla charges for something like this out of warranty?
Had same issue. I was lucky as the leak occurred while under warranty. Seems to be an issue with the tank design.
 

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Researching this issue, the M3 washer tank seems to be poorly manufactured which leads me to believe this may become a chronic problem with the M3 fleet as they age. The Permatex Plastic Repair Kit recommended above is not designed to patch HDPE tanks like this washer tank, so I would not expect that to be a lasting solution. HDPE is difficult to glue because it is very slick and flexible. There are HDPE specialty bonding kits available on the market. I think I'm going to have Tesla install the replacement tank and watch and learn how it's done in case there are any gotchas. Then, I'll keep the old tank, clean it and repair it with the proper adhesive, store it on the shelf, and, if the new tank fails in the future I'll have both the part and knowledge to swap it out.
 

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Thanks for all the great info and advice. Definitely tough pill to swallow for something as simple as a plastic reservoir, but if you don’t replace it, the auto wipers don’t function well, with smearing and streaking, and the low fluid warning never goes away. Unfortunately, this type of repair is not in my wheelhouse (pun intended), or I’d do it myself. Glad to hear it may not be over $500, but yes, worrisome that it could recur in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Does seem like a safety issue, being integrated into autopilot vision and all…
Yeah, you can't stretch the definition of "safety issue" to that degree.
 
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