How to Adjust Windshield Wipers

by Jody L. Campbell

Your windshield wipers take a beating -- baking in the hot sun, freezing to a cold windshield, operating dutifully in all kinds of inclement weather -- so you can see the road as you drive. Rough handling when you hurry to wash the windshield before leaving the gas station or the strain needed to wrench the blade from a frozen windshield can knock the arms out of whack leaving you with misaligned, chattering blades the next time you press them into service. Be kind to your windshield wipers. You don't realize how important they are until they don't work right.

Adjust the Park Position

Step 1

Turn the ignition to accessory mode and make sure the wiper switch is off. Turn the ignition switch off and remove the keys. The wiper motor is now in its parked position, even though the wiper arms may not be properly aligned.

Step 2

Access the base of the wiper arms. You may have to open the hood or remove the plastic cowling in front of the windshield to get to the base of the arms.

Step 3

Locate the retaining nut at the bottom of the wiper arm. Some models will have a protective plastic cap covering the nut. Other vehicles may have a hinged cover that is part of the wiper arm itself. Pry the cap off with a screwdriver or unsnap the hinged cover by prying it up from the bottom of the wiper arm with the screwdriver to reveal the retaining nut.

Step 4

Remove the nut, using a ratchet and socket . Rock the wiper arm with firm but gentle force while prying the base of the arm off of the splined wiper-arm stud. The wiper arm may be corroded in place and tough to remove, but the combination of firm rocking and prying with the screwdriver will work to remove the arm. Take care not to damage the splines.

Step 5

Align the wiper arm back onto the splined wiper-arm stud in the proper park position and then press the arm onto the stud. Some vehicles may have a wiper arm stop that the arm rests against in the off position. If so, make sure the wiper arm is resting against the wiper arm stop when aligning it on the stud.

Step 6

Replace the retaining nut and tighten it. Repeat this procedure for the other wiper arm if needed.

Step 7

Insert the ignition key and turn it to the accessory position. Turn on the windshield wipers and allow them to cycle, then turn the wipers off and let the wiper motor return to the park position. Verify that the blades rest in the proper park position. Turn the ignition switch off.

Adjust Blade Alignment

Step 1

Use two sets of pliers to bend the wiper arm back into position if the wiper arm has been twisted and the blades are not perpendicular to the windshield. Hold the wiper arm with one set of pliers to anchor it and use the other set to twist it so the wiper is perpendicular to the windshield.

Step 2

Use the pliers to bend the end of the wiper arm a bit more toward the windshield if the wiper blades don't maintain contact with the windshield over the entire sweep.

Step 3

If the blades are too far out of whack, inspect the articulated fingers on the blade. If the fingers don't hold the rubber against the windshield as the blade sweeps across the curve of the windshield, replace the whole blade. Check the rubber for tears, dry cracking or stiffness. The rubber should be supple. Replace the wiper blades, if necessary.

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