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Here's What You Can Do When the Windshield Wipers are Not Working

Windshield Wipers Not Working
Are your car windshield wipers not working? The reason for its stalled oscillatory symphony might be more than one. Here's a simple guide on troubleshooting the problem effectively.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2018
Wiper Working in a Nutshell

The wiper's oscillatory motion is orchestrated by a worm gear mechanism (powered by an electric motor) that drives a spinning circular ring gear, which in turn, drives a bellcrank mechanism. The oscillatory motion is made possible by an electrical switching mechanism operated via metal arms resting on a copper contact ring.

The importance of car windshield wipers is not lost on anybody who's driven a car on the heels of a storm. Not fixing the wiper assembly risks compromising windshield visibility, when it's absolutely vital. Unless you would like to experience the thrill of wiping the screen with your bare hand, while handling the steering wheel with the other, it would be wise to master the basics of wiper troubleshooting.

Wipers Not Working - Things to Check
The reasons for dysfunctional wipers can be classified into two categories: mechanical or electrical. One needs to check for both cases. Here are troubleshooting tips in the order of likelihood.

Blown Out Car Fuse

A blown up car fuse could be the culprit that has stopped the wipers in their tracks. Check the fuse assembly under the dashboard or the engine compartment. You car manual will provide you with the exact location and number of the fuse. The cause might be messed up wiring or a shorted motor armature. So it would be helpful to check the wiring, along with the motor, before you replace the fuse or else history will repeat itself. Make sure to fit a fuse with the precise ampere rating, recommended for your car.

Shorting or Break in Connecting Wires

Firstly, check all the motor wires for continuity using a digital multimeter. If the measured resistance is infinite, you have a broken wire for sure. The connecting wires of the motor sometimes go loose or short accidentally, bringing things to a standstill. Connecting the loose wires properly or fixing/replacing them may solve the problem. When making these connections, refer wiper assembly circuit diagram, provided in the car manual.

Wiper Motor

Motor is the driving force of the wiper. Listen for a humming sound from the motor. If there is no humming and body's cold, the motor might be a problem. Using a multimeter, check the voltage at the motor's power terminals. If the voltage at those points is less than 12V, we have a power connectivity problem, which can be solved by replacing the connecting wires or checking for fuse connection. Again, having a circuit diagram of the motor in front of you, would be helpful.

If the detected voltage at terminals is 12 V and the motor doesn't hum to life, a replacement is surely on the cards. Unless you are an old pro at electronics, it's not recommended that you fix the motor on your own. Hand it over to a repair center for fixing or simply get the motor replaced.

Wiper Switch

Another wiper assembly part that can malfunction is the switch. If there's smoke from the steering column, this is most likely the case. To check the switch wiring assembly, you will have to remove the steering column cover and locate the wires leading to the switch, using the car manual. The smoke might be a result of burned insulation, due to shorting. If the problem is restricted to wiring, replacing it should do the trick. Otherwise, you might need a switch replacement.

Friction Issues

Due to corrosion, swelling and wearing out, some of the mechanical parts may cause friction. This includes the wiper shaft jamming, crumbling bushing and mounting blocks that have begun disintegrating. While the shaft needs to be dissembled, cleaned, brushed and lubricated (preferably with silicone grease), the bushing, as well as mounting blocks will need a replacement. Bent wiper arms can hamper overall operations. If they are bent beyond repair, get them replaced immediately.

Sprayers Not Working - Things to Check
Sometimes the wiper's sprayer stops working which can be very annoying. It is a self-cleaning mechanism for the windshield. Here are some of the things that you need to check in case it's not working.

Clogged Washer Nozzle

The first thing to check is the washer nozzle for clogging. An obstruction in it, might be the reason for sprayers not working. Using a pin, clean the clogged nozzle. This might restore the sprayer to the normal working condition.

Washer Motor

The windshield washer mechanism might have been impaired due to the malfunctioning of the washer motor. Using a multimeter, test if power's reaching its terminals. Look for loose connections and if the motor is not functioning despite normal power supply, get it replaced. Sometimes the washer doesn't work because water is not filled to requisite levels. Filling in fluid might restore normal functioning.

Broken Washer Hose

The washer hose that connects the reservoir to the nozzle, might be broken or worn out, stalling the overall operation in the process. Check the hose for leaks and get it replaced.

These were some solutions to possible problems that you might be confronting. All it takes is a bit of mechanical and electrical investigative work to figure out the problem source. Fix whatever is possible and let a service center take over, in case the job is beyond your level of expertise.
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