How to Fix a Frozen Windshield Wiper

by Abaigeal Quinn

Windshield wipers can become frozen by snow or icy temperatures and can bind the wipers to the windshield. Turning on your wiper system to clear ice and snow can burn out or overheat your wiper motor, strip the wiper arms, or permanently damage the wiper assembly transmission. It can also result in a bent linkage or bent arms and blades. Prepare for harsh winter conditions by filling your windshield wiper reservoir with a de-icing solution and using a de-icer spray solution for external applications. But you'll need to unfreeze your frozen blades outside the car BEFORE you turn on your wipers.

Check to make sure your windshield wipers are in the "Off" position. Start your engine and turn the defrost setting on your heater to high to heat the windshield. Ensure the defrost vents are clear, and put down your car visors to help redirect air back to the windshield.

Move to the outside of the vehicle. Remove any excess snow or ice from your windshield and surrounding areas with a snow brush, an ice scraper or a squeegee. Get off as much of the residual frost as you can, being careful not to work roughly and gouge the blades. Clear the windshield wiper washer reservoir holes on the hood of your car of any snow or ice.

Gently lift on the wiper arm to see if it will remove itself from the windshield. If you feel any resistance, stop. You can tear the rubber wiper blades by forcing them off the windshield.

Spray chemical de-icer directly onto the blades and windshield. Do not turn on the wipers yet. Finish clearing snow or ice off any other areas of the car.

Gently scrape around the wipers once the solution has had a chance to pool around the blades for 1 to 2 minutes. Try lifting to see if they will separate from the car. If they are still stuck, wait for the defrost heater in the car to further heat the windshield. Wait two minutes, and spray more de-icer onto the windshield and blades.

Lift the blades as soon as they will easily come off the windshield. Tap off any residual ice chunks gently with the scraper.

Wipe the blades with a dry cloth to remove any remaining frost, making sure to get the tops and underside of the unit. Wipe the windshield and gently place the blades back on top of it.

Get back into the car and turn on your wipers while spraying the de-icer solution from the car reservoir over the windshield. Fully clear the windshield before proceeding to drive.

Warnings

  • close Many cars cannot apply the windshield spray without engaging the wipers. Never attempt to use the car reservoir spray when the wipers are still frozen on the windshield.
  • close Plain water or regular windshield washer solution can freeze onto the windshield when applied over frozen wiper blades.

Items you will need

About the Author

Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera man working on car image by palms from Fotolia.com