Sunfire washer pump electrical question

woody79

Original poster
Member
Dec 3, 2011
351
Ok ..... I know its not a GMT platform, but my Sunfire is part of the GM family:smile: Please feel free to move if this doesn't belong in this section.

Anyway ... I need to check to see if the wiring to the washer pump on my '02 Sunfire is working or not. I am a newbie when it comes to using a multi-meter. My question basically is, how do I use the multi-meter to check for voltage on the power cable going to the pump. The cable going to it has 2 wires - 1 red I'm assuming is live and 1 black which I am assuming is ground.

Please don't shoot me for asking such a dumb question, but I'd really like to see if this part of the wiring is good. I will also check the fuse to see if it is blown.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,343
Ottawa, ON
Just a 12V test light would work. Not sure which type of connector it uses at the pump so you may need to insert two short small pieces of wire into the plug. Have somebody turn on the ignition and turn on the pump. If the light turns on, then the pump is toast. If no light, check the fuse (actually, do this first). If still no light, then look at the switch.

If using a meter instead of a light, set it to DC voltage at the next setting higher than 12V (i.e. if it has settings for 5V, 24V, 100V, set it to 24V). Don't worry about which is positive or negative for this test. If you get a negative reading (i.e. -13.5V) when the switch is actuated, this means you are getting power but you just have the wires backwards, and that's OK for this.
 

woody79

Original poster
Member
Dec 3, 2011
351
Thanks for your response. I will look into this more tomorrow or next weekend. I only have a meter and will use that after I check the fuse again tomorrow. I appricate the help!:thumbsup:
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
You can always practice with the meter on a AA battery, or the vehicle's battery terminals first to get used to what you're looking at. Also never use the meter's resistance or continuity range on a circuit with power on it. It could blow up the meter. The resistance function (the meter should have come with a manual) is only for checking things like switches or fuses out while they're removed from the vehicle. Practice using the resistance (Ohms) function on a fuse.
 

kardain

Member
Dec 16, 2011
557
The washer motor is a two wire plug. Test light will work, but a dmm is safer. Just turn it to 12v dc, unplug the connector from the motor and insert the two probes in the connector pins.... Orientation doesn't matter much, if backwards it will read negative voltage.

Also check for corrosion on the large plug under the battery tray.... That is a slightly common cause of washer pump failure.

<-- Sunfire owner of 9 years.
 

Mark20

Member
Dec 6, 2011
1,630
On a good fuse you will get a resistance of 0 ohms (or pretty close). An open fuse will give you an off the scale reading. For most DMMs that is a one in the leftmost position. You can simulate that by just selecting one of the resistance modes and keeping the test leads from touching each other.
 

woody79

Original poster
Member
Dec 3, 2011
351
Went down and checked the fuse ... well I was going to until I found that there isn't a fuse for the washer pump. I found the fuse for the wiper motor, which is good since the wipers actually work, I just don't get any spray when I activate the pump.

I will check the power to the pump when I get a moment this weekend.

Thanks for all the help guys! I am somewhat hesitant when it comes to using a multimeter, as I really do not enjoy working with electricity :crazy:

the roadie said:
You can always practice with the meter on a AA battery, or the vehicle's battery terminals first to get used to what you're looking at. Also never use the meter's resistance or continuity range on a circuit with power on it. It could blow up the meter. The resistance function (the meter should have come with a manual) is only for checking things like switches or fuses out while they're removed from the vehicle. Practice using the resistance (Ohms) function on a fuse.

Thanks Roadie. I will take your advice and practice with the multimeter using a AA battery, didn't occur to me to try that. Just need to wait until the weekend to test the plug to the pump as there never seems to be enough time during the week.

Don't worry I won't use the resistance range/feature on a live circuit. Last thing I want to do is cause more damage :smile:

kardain said:
The washer motor is a two wire plug. Test light will work, but a dmm is safer. Just turn it to 12v dc, unplug the connector from the motor and insert the two probes in the connector pins.... Orientation doesn't matter much, if backwards it will read negative voltage.

Also check for corrosion on the large plug under the battery tray.... That is a slightly common cause of washer pump failure.

<-- Sunfire owner of 9 years.

Thanks Kardain!

:offtopic:
Good to see another Sunfire owner. What year and how many miles?

I did not know about the large plug under the battery tray. I will defiantly check that out.
 

kardain

Member
Dec 16, 2011
557
woody79 said:
Went down and checked the fuse ... well I was going to until I found that there isn't a fuse for the washer pump. I found the fuse for the wiper motor, which is good since the wipers actually work, I just don't get any spray when I activate the pump.

I will check the power to the pump when I get a moment this weekend.

Thanks for all the help guys! I am somewhat hesitant when it comes to using a multimeter, as I really do not enjoy working with electricity :crazy:

Nope. There isn't a fuse for it.... According to the schematic for the washer system, it shares the same fuse as the wipers. Then from the switch to the c101 connector (the large one under the battery tray) then to the pump. It's a red wire at the switch.

woody79 said:
Thanks Kardain!

:offtopic:
Good to see another Sunfire owner. What year and how many miles?

I did not know about the large plug under the battery tray. I will defiantly check that out.

97 se. Mileage.... Unknown. Had 175k before I swapped the cluster out to digital gauges and since then, had to warranty out the speedo twice. I'd say 225k ish now.
 

woody79

Original poster
Member
Dec 3, 2011
351
kardain said:
Nope. There isn't a fuse for it.... According to the schematic for the washer system, it shares the same fuse as the wipers. Then from the switch to the c101 connector (the large one under the battery tray) then to the pump. It's a red wire at the switch.

Any idea where I can find a copy of buy the schematics for the washer system?

kardain said:
97 se. Mileage.... Unknown. Had 175k before I swapped the cluster out to digital gauges and since then, had to warranty out the speedo twice. I'd say 225k ish now.

That's some serious miles :thumbsup: We have had almost no major issues with the car apart from the usually wear and tear items.

I did have to replace the transmission cooler lines recently as they had corroded and had been leaking a lot of fluid. When I drained the old fluid not much came out :lipsrsealed: Must have been leaking for a while and I didn't notice. I think the transmission is on its way out because of this (making some strange sounds).
 

kardain

Member
Dec 16, 2011
557
woody79 said:
That's some serious miles :thumbsup: We have had almost no major issues with the car apart from the usually wear and tear items.

Two engines (i4 -> v6), 8 clutches, and 5 transmissions later, lol.... Trans 6 is not going to be easy to put in... 6 speed manual from a g6. Need something a bit stronger than the stock isuzu crap (second gear keeps grenading) and bring the gearing down some.

The washer circuit... There isn't much to it. From the wiper fuse to the switch, the top cover of the steering column just pops out if you want to check between the fuse and washer switch. From the switch out the firewall via the large body to engine harness above the transmission, then to the washer pump via the c101... One of the easiest circuits in the car. I'll post it shortly... Have to find a tiff viewer that works with Chrome first.

Replacement pumps are like $30 if it comes down to it.
 

woody79

Original poster
Member
Dec 3, 2011
351
Not much of an update as I really didn't get to test the voltage on the plug to the pump this past weekend.

kardain said:
Also check for corrosion on the large plug under the battery tray.... That is a slightly common cause of washer pump failure.

I did pull the battery out and try to remove the battery plate. It seems as if the plate is not removable :frown:. I can feel the large plug you mention. I even tried removing the drivers tire and trim in the wheel well to get a better look at the battery plate. During this process I found this .... :lipsrsealed:

Looks like I'll be replacing the drivers outter tie rod end soon also.
View attachment 19729

View attachment 19730


Passenger side doesn't look as bad. These are original to the car mind you (19x,xxx miles).
View attachment 19731


the roadie said:
You can always practice with the meter on a AA battery, or the vehicle's battery terminals first to get used to what you're looking at. Also never use the meter's resistance or continuity range on a circuit with power on it. It could blow up the meter. The resistance function (the meter should have come with a manual) is only for checking things like switches or fuses out while they're removed from the vehicle. Practice using the resistance (Ohms) function on a fuse.

I did practice using the multimeter and I've got to say its am awesome tool to have!
 

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turblown

Member
Jun 19, 2022
1
Phoenix, AZ
I realize this thread is over 10 years old, but I have recently come across the same issue on my 1999 Pontiac Sunfire.

Did the original poster's issue ever get resolved?

I have unplugged the washer pump and checked for voltage at the connector while a helper operates the switch and my multimeter reads zero volts. I also ran 12volts to the washer pump using some jumper wires and verified it works when properly powered. The wipers work fine and the wiper/washer switch appears to function properly. I will use the info in this thread to see if I can track down a wiring issue. Thanks!
 

flyboy2610

Member
Aug 24, 2021
467
Lincoln, Ne.
Can you unplug the switch? Check for continuity with the switch unplugged and activated. If no continuity, the switch is bad.
 
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