What is a Headlight Washer?

A headlight washer is an electrically powered rotating motor that externally sprinkles water or cleaning solution over your car’s headlight display. Clean headlights are paramount to driving safely at night or in bad weather. That’s where the washer system comes into play, as it helps to keep the headlights clean and clear, improving the driver’s visibility.

Components of a Headlight Washer

There are five components in a headlight washer unit:

  • Cleaning solution reservoir (a minimum of 2.5 liters of capacity)
  • The supply line that connects the reservoir tanks and the sprayers
  • Electric pump
  • Injectors
  • Control unit

How Does a Headlight Washer Operate?

A headlight washer helps clean the headlight glass lenses in two steps. The initial cleansing phase disperses the dirt by extending the washer brushes. The dissolved dirt is then rinsed away in the second stage. The system is activated by a switch located on the multifunction stalk. When the windshield wipers are turned on, and the headlight switch is in the first or second position, the system will spray washer fluid on the headlight lens.

Which Headlights Require a Headlight Washer?

A common misconception is that only Xenon headlights require a headlight washer system. But it’s not the case. The current iteration of Xenon, the 25-Watt model, does not require a headlight washer at all.

But in the meantime, Halogen and LED headlights require a headlight washer if the light beams produce over 2000 lumens. This is essential for ECE clearance.

If you are living in North America, you will not need to install a headlight washer as they are still not required by DOT standards. In addition, these restrictions only affect Xenon because no certified Halogen headlight surpasses this given threshold.

This is also true for most LED systems; only Xenon headlights are affected in reality as they produce about 3000 lumens.

The Pros and Cons of Having a Headlight Washer System in Your Car

Headlight washers are not mandated by any law. Therefore, whether you should install it in your car or not completely depends on you. This section discusses some general advantages and setbacks of a headlight washer system.


  • Whenever a car has been on the road for a while, the headlights may accumulate a layer of dust. As a result, the lighting will eventually fade. Headlight washers come in handy with their jet sprays that can clean this dust in no time.
  • Headlight washers can prevent glare by removing dust and debris that comes into contact with the headlights.
  • Intense fog, rain, and cold can potentially cloud the headlights and impair your visibility. Headlight washers are really helpful while driving in these conditions.


  • In extreme cold, the water in your washer system can freeze up and accumulate in the headlight compartment. To get rid of that water, you will have to install a heater.
  • It is only helpful if you drive your car off-road, where the roads are generally sandy and muddy. For a regular-purpose vehicle, this is entirely unnecessary as your headlight assembly is more than capable of keeping your headlights free of dust and debris.
  • If you live in a place where the weather is clear and sunny most of the year, you will not need a washer.
  • Sometimes, the natural airflow causes directional problems for the washer’s water spraying system, and it fails to clean the headlights.

How to Install a Headlight Washer?

If you have made up your mind about getting a washer system for your car, then this section will help you install it. Installing a washer is a pretty straightforward task and involves only eight steps:

  • Park your car on flat ground and switch off the engine.
  • Unplug the negative battery cable.
  • Disassemble the headlight assembly.
  • Once the headlight assembly is removed, you will need to drill a hole in the headlight housing in order to mount the headlight washer nozzle.
  • Then you will need to run wiring from the headlight washer nozzle to the battery in order to power the headlight washer.
  • Attach the connector plug for the headlight washer motor.
  • Install the headlamp washer motor and attach it to the connection.
  • Reattach the headlight assembly and connect the negative battery wire at this point.

If you’re having trouble installing your headlight washer, you should double-check that the headlight washer you bought is compatible with your car’s build and model. You should also check your car’s owner’s manual or instruction manual to determine if your vehicle has any special instructions. If you are still having problems, you should seek professional help.

Final Notes

Modern headlight washers either use a stationary nozzle or a brush nozzle. The stationary nozzle washers are more reliable due to the absence of other mechanized parts. But brush nozzles do not experience depressurizing failure or water blockage in the supply line. So, choosing a headlight washer system really boils down to the build and model of your car.

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