Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Windshield wipers not working

Windshield wipers not working — Common causes

If you encounter a Windshield wipers not working situation, always start your diagnosis with the simple things. For example. If it’s winter, perhaps your wipers are frozen to the windshield. Try lifting the wiper blade off the windshield. Then try turning on the wipers. If that works, you’ve found the problem. If there’s no wiper motor noise when turning on the wipers, start by checking for an electrical issue.

However, if you turn on the wipers and can hear the motor running but the wipers don’t move or move only partially, skip to the bottom of this post.

Locate the windshield wiper fuse

The wiper fuse is usually located in the fuse box inside the passenger cabin. However, it is sometimes located in the underhood fuse box. Refer to your owner’s manual for the exact location. Or, look here to see if I’ve posted a list of fuse locations for your vehicle.

Visually inspect the windshield wiper fuse

Perform a visual examination of the fuse. fuse. A blown fuse will have a missing or melted portion of the fuse element (see image below).

windshield wiper fuse

Test fuses with a multimeter

If you don’t know which fuse powers your windshield wipers and you have access to a multimeter, test the fuses using this method. Se the meter on DC volts. Connect the black test lead to a good ground. With the key in the run position, touch the red lead to both sides of each fuse. If the fuse is good, you’ll see battery voltage on both sides of the fuse. A bad or blown fuse will only show voltage on one side of the fuse.

test windshield wiper fuse with multimeter

Check the wiper motor connection

Remove the electrical connector from the wiper motor and check for corrosion. Clean any corrosion and try again. If the wipers still don’t work, check for battery voltage and good ground right at the connection using a multimeter. You may need a wiring diagram to determine which wires supply power and ground.

If you detect power and ground at the wiper motor connector but the wiper motor shows no signs of life when switched on, chances are the motor has burned out and must be replaced.

What causes a wiper motor to fail?

Wiper blades are frozen to the windshield or hitting an obstruction

When the wipers stall due to freezing or hitting an obstruction (like a bicycle on your bicycle rack), the motor windings overheat and break.

Binding wiper linkage

There are multiple pivot points in wiper linkage. As those pivot points wear out, they can create binding that increases stress on the motor, causing it to overheat and fail.

Windshield wipers not working but can hear motor

A windshield wiper motor connects to wiper linkage and that linkage moves the wiper arms. The linkage pivot points can become worn or lose or can break. In addition, the wiper arm can sometimes become loose from the tapered/splined spindle. If only one wiper arm skips, chances are the retaining bolt has loosened and the arm is slipping on the tapered spindle. Try tightening the retaining bolt. However, if this condition has gone on for a while, chances are the spines are stripped off the wiper arm connection. Since the wiper arm connection is made with a softer metal than the wiper spindle, it usually strips first. To fix this condition, simply purchase a new wiper arm and install it on the existing spindle.

wiper linkage

If the skipping affects both wiper arms, chances are the linkage is worn. In some cases you can buy replacement pivot points (try dorman.com), but often it’s best to replace the entire linkage assembly.

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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