Easy Ways to Diagnose a Faulty Windshield Wiper System

Easy Ways to Diagnose a Faulty Windshield Wiper System

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The wiper system is very important during inclement weather because it is used to clear the windshield and increase visibility to allow the driver to have a good view of the road and motorists ahead. If your windshield wipers are not working, it may be because of a number of reasons.
 
The most common causes of wipers not working are a blown-out fuse, pulse board failure, a burned-out wiper motor or a control switch failure.

 

 

My Windshield Wipers Stopped Working

My windshield wipers stopped working
 
When your windshield wipers stop working, especially while driving, it can be a very frustrating scenario and also a major safety concern. If you can troubleshoot the issue, you may be on your way faster than you think, because it is not a complicated system.
 
Knowing how the wipers work can help you diagnose the problem.
 
Most likely it is an electrical problem that is causing the wipers to fail. If the wipers are not cleaning the windshield properly, it could mean you have to replace the wiper blade or adjust the arm pivot of the wiper arm.
 

Fuse That is Blown Out

If there is any obstruction to the wiper motor, like dirt, grime, snow or ice, it may overload the circuit electrically and cause the fuse to blow. A blown fuse will save the motor from getting damaged and is the first component to look for when wiper blades stop working.
 
Find the correct fuse in the fuse box and replace it. The wiper blades should start working now, and a blown fuse was your problem.
 
Fuses are relatively inexpensive and are easy to replace.
 

Pulse Board Failure

Pulse board failure
 
Check the pulse board. It is the electrical circuit board that has all the connections from your electrical system to the wiper motor and relay switches. The board is inexpensive to replace and if you are not confident of handling this job by yourself, get a trained mechanic to carry out the replacement.
 
It is a quick job and won’t take up too much time.
 

Control Switch Failure

Control switch failure
 
The switch that you use to turn the wiper system on or off sometimes can go wrong. There is internal circuitry within the switch that can suffer a failure.
 
Again, the whole switch can be replaced and they are easily available at any car spare parts store. Replacing the switch with a third-party component may be cheaper, but it may not work for long.
 
To make sure that the wiper system works like new, use an OEM part for hassle free use and operation.
 

Burned-out Wiper Motor

If all three of the above troubleshooting methods don’t fix the wiper system, then it is the wiper motor to blame. The wiper motor usually fails after heavy use and is easy to replace.
 
The wiper motor is located under the hood and is held in place with a plastic housing and a few screws. Removing a faulty wiper motor and replacing it with a new one is a fairly straight forward job.
 
A replacement motor is easily available at a car parts store. With the new motor in place, your wipers should be working perfectly now.
 

Conclusion

Wipers for the windshield do not get a lot of attention unless the weather gets bad and visibility goes down while driving. However, when the weather gets bad, and you start using your wipers, you won’t think twice about what to do if they suddenly stopped working.
 
If you notice that your wiper system is not working adequately, not cleaning away rain, snow or ice, then this guide to getting your wipers working again should help you diagnose the problem and have it fixed quite easily.
 
You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a thunderstorm when your wipers stop working. Lucky for us, windshield wipers are not that complicated and finding the root cause of the problem is not an issue. Sometimes, when the problem involves the motor or an electrical system, you may need a trained mechanic to solve the problem, but this little guide should send you on the right path to finding the problem and fixing it.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What to do when windshield wipers stop working?

Ans. If your windshield wipers stop working during heavy rainfall it could be because of a broken or worn-out wiper linkage, grounding or relay problem, or perhaps a blown fuse.
 
Stop driving as soon as visibility goes down. At the same time do not slam on the brakes or suddenly swerve the steering wheel. If there is still some visibility, drive at a slow pace until you reach the nearest petrol station or rest area. Basically, just pull over to a safe place.
 
Keep distance from traffic in front because they may throw up much and dirt onto your windshield leading to zero visibility.
 
Find a place to pull over away from traffic and wait for the rain to stop. If you have access to spare parts, try to diagnose the problem or if you have a mechanic with you, then you can fix the problem right away.
 

Q2. What do I do if my windshield wipers are not stopping correctly?

Ans. Windshield wipers that do not stop at the right place can be annoying, and even dangerous. Some of the cause for this could be that the rubber on the windshield wiper has dried out or corroded from the heat of the sun causing it to stop incorrectly.
 
The blades could also be bent in a way that is causing it to work incorrectly. Perhaps the windshield itself is dirty with a sticky film of tree sap or acidity.
 
First, clean your windshield to enable a smooth surface for the windshield wipers to move on. Next check the angle of your wiper. If the angle is incorrect, you may have to replace the blade.
 
If the rubber on the blade is slightly worn out, you can add a lubricant to the rubber if it is too dry. This may help the blades to move on the windshield. If the windshield has some imperfections on its surface, a clay bar can be used to remove the pebbly texture the same way it is used on paint.
 
If the problem still persists, replace the wiper blades.
 

Q3. My windshield wipers are not moving but I hear a clicking sound?

Ans. If upon switching on the wiper, you hear a clicking sound but the wiper blades don’t move then it is likely you have a mechanical problem with the wipers. There are two moving parts in the wiper, that is the wiper motor and the wiper transmission.
 
If you hear a clicking sound it could mean that the motor is trying to move a locked transmission or jammed motor gear. The gear could have been stripped off its teeth and is causing a clicking sound while rotating. The wiper transmission's job is to turn the circular motion of the wiper motor to the side-to-side motion of the wiper blade.
 
You can reach the wiper motor and the wiper transmission by removing the wiper arms and getting underneath the wiper cowl by unscrewing the plastic housing. Once you have got to the internals, check if the motor is functioning or if the wiper transmission is the culprit. Replace the parts that are not working and your wiper blades should start to work properly. 
 

Q4. Why has one of my windshield wipers stopped working?

Ans. It can be quite a hassle when only one of your windshield wipers works and you are stuck in the middle of a thunderstorm. Some of the reasons why only one of the windshield wipers stops working could be that it has a faulty motor. The wiper blade won’t work if the electrical motor has burnt out or the internal electricals have malfunctioned.
 
It could also be a burnt-out fuse for one of the wiper blades, which will automatically get overloaded and blow out if something is blocking the motor or it gets overloaded.
 
Perhaps it is the wiper blade pivot that is loose, because if the pivot nut is too loose, the wiper blade will not move even if the motor is working fine.
 

Q5. My rain sensing wipers are not working after windshield replacement?

Ans. Rain sensing wipers can automatically detect rain, snow or ice on the windshield and can adjust the speed of the wiper blades based on how heavy the rain or snow is. The biggest advantage is that the driver does not need to operate the wiper control when it starts to rain.
 
A sensor is placed on the front windshield behind the rear-view mirror and shoots a beam of infra-red light at an angle of 45 degrees. Anything that interrupts this beam of light, like moisture or snow will activate the wipers to start working.
 
In order to make sure that the automatic rain sensing wipers work, you have to make sure the replaced windshield is absolutely clean and free from stains, moisture and handprints. Make sure the new windshield is completely clean, remove all insect stains, bird droppings, tree sap, oil or mud especially around the area of the rain sensor near the rear-view mirror.
 
Make sure any disconnected wires from the rain sensor have been replaced after fixing the new windshield on the car. This should solve the problem.
 

Q6. My windshield wipers are not turning off?

Ans. If your windshield wipers are still working even after you switch them off it is probably because of a faulty relay, a faulty switch or a faulty park switch. You can figure out where the problem is with a trial-and-error method.
 
The windshield wiper system has an internal electrical relay switch. If the relay switch fails, it would mean that the windshield wipers won’t work at all, or that they won’t stop moving even if you switch them off.
 
The windshield wiper switch is used to turn the wipers on and off and it contains some complicated circuitry. If the electrical circuitry fails, then the wipers may remain on even when the switch is turned off. To change the switch, you will have to dismantle the steering column, so it is more challenging than changing a relay switch.
 
The park switch tells the motor to stop at the bottom of the windshield, because you may switch off the wiper system when it is at the top or middle of the windshield, and it has to complete one cycle before coming to rest. A faulty park switch may not stop the wiper blade at all. If the park switch is at fault, then you most probably have to replace the motor.
 

Q7. My windshield wiper washers are not spraying?

Ans. Windshield washers do not fail easily, but if they do it is usually a clogged nozzle or a faulty water pump. If the windshield fluid is not spraying, then its time to check it out.
 
If there is no buzzing sound when the windshield washer is activated, then it is usually a fuse that is blown. If the fuse has blown out, then it indicates that there is a problem with the pump which is inexpensive to replace. Replacing the fuse alone may cause the pump to fail again so this is not recommended.
 
If the pump seems to be working, but there is no water spraying out of the nozzle, then it is usually a clogged nozzle.
 
To clear a clogged nozzle, use a pin to clear the pathway and then use compressed air to clean off any debris that may be blocking the nozzle.
 

Q8. My windshield wipers are not lying flat?

Ans. If the windshield wipers are not lying flat against the windshield it is because the wiper arm is bent or the blades need replacing.
 
First clean the windshield and wiper blades with warm water and soap. If the wiper arm is bent, it may not make contact with the windshield and will not lay flat against it, therefore it may not clean the windshield effectively.
 
Check if the blade is parallel to the windshield. If not, then use a pair of pliers to gently bend the wiper blade so that it lays flat against the windshield.
 

Q9. My windshield wipers are not working smoothly?

Ans. If the water droplets do not get wiped away by the wiper blades easily, visibility through the windshield will start to go down drastically. Most likely, the droplets are sticking to the windshield because of a layer of dirt or grime on the glass surface.
 
If the wiper is not cleaning properly, the best way to solve this is to give the windshield a once over with soap and warm water. You can even use a glass cleaner to remove the layer of dirt.
 
Next, add a water repelling agent so that the surface remains free from any sticky dirt, grime or tree sap. The wiper blades should start cleaning the windshield properly now.
 

Q10. What do I do if my windshield wipers stopped working, then started again?

Ans. If your windshield wipers stopped working while driving during inclement weather, something like moisture, snow or ice is blocking the wipers from moving. Before you install a new set of wiper blades, make sure to inspect the motor and see if anything is blocking it.
 
You can try replacing the fuse of the wiper system and check to see if the wiper starts working. Even a faulty relay could cause the wiper motor to not get enough power from the electrical system. Replacing the relay should do the trick.
 
 
Colin Dias

Colin Dias

Automotive enthusiast. Heavy Metal fan. Classic car aficionado.

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