How to Reset the Windshield Wipers

by Ryan BauerUpdated August 14, 2023
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Your windshield wipers are an integral part of your car's wiper system. It’s critical to ensure they function properly to maintain good visibility while driving in adverse weather conditions. Windshield wipers may need resetting, adjusting, or retiming due to regular use, exposure to the elements, or excessive stress such as shedding large chunks of ice. Misaligned wipers can lead to poor visibility or even damage your windscreen. In the USA, as across the globe, it's essential to know how to reposition, adjust, and retime your wipers for your safety and that of other road users.

Before beginning, check your vehicle's owner's manual for any specific instructions regarding the windshield wiper motor and blades. Always remember to exercise caution when performing any DIY tasks on your vehicle. The tools you'll need for this procedure are:

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Pliers (optional)

Different types of wipers

Knowing the different types of wipers will help you choose the right wiper for your vehicle.

  • Standard Wipers‌: These are common on most vehicles and are known for their simple design and performance.
  • Beam Blades‌: These wipers have a sleek design and apply even pressure to the windshield for better performance.
  • Hybrid Wiper‌: Combining the properties of standard blades and cores, hybrid wipers offer optimal performance and durability.
  • Winter Wiper Blades‌: Specially designed for icy and snowy conditions, the winter wiper blades have a protective cover to prevent ice build-up.

Begin by opening the car's hood and locating the wiper transmission, which is typically covered by a plastic cover or cowl. Remove the plastic cover that protects the windshield wiper motor and wiper arms. To do this, use your screwdriver to carefully unscrew it.

Resetting the Windshield Wipers

1. Uncover the Plastic Cover to see the wiper arms

Remove the plastic cover that hides the motors and wiper arms. To do this, insert a screwdriver under the cover and carefully unscrew it.

2. Dismantle the Central Nut

Use a socket wrench to remove the nut in the center of the wiper motor. Turn the wipers on and then off again to allow the motor to complete a full cycle and return to the correct position.

3. Reposition the Wiper Blades to Res Position

Position the wiper blades in the correct rest position, horizontal and parallel to the windshield. Reattach the wiper mechanism to the motor and replace the nut. Tighten securely with a socket wrench.

4. Check the Windscreen Wipers

Check the function of the windscreen wipers. You should sweep across the windshield as normal, then return to the parked position at the bottom of the windshield. Replace the plastic cover and press down until the latches click into place.

Refer to the steps above for resetting the windshield wipers, ensuring they return to the correct rest position at the bottom of the windshield. While resetting, it's recommended to check the level of your windshield washer fluid. If it's low, refill it as necessary.

Adjusting the Windshield Wipers

1. Set Ignition to Accessory Mode and Remove the Keys

Switch the ignition to accessory mode, make sure the wiper switch is off, then remove the keys.

2. Locate the Locknut

Access the base of the wiper arms and locate the locknut on the underside of the wiper arm. Use a ratchet and socket wrench to remove the nut.

3. Reposition the Wiper Arm into Parking

Place the wiper arm in the correct parking position on the wiper arm shaft. Press your arm against the pen. If there is a wiper arm bracket, make sure the wiper arm rests on it.

4. Replace and Fasten the Lock Nut

Replace and tighten the lock nut. If necessary, repeat the process for the other wiper arm.

5. Switch to Accessory Position

Insert the ignition key, turn to the accessory position and operate the windscreen wipers. Leave them running before turning them off. Check that the knives are in the correct parking position. Disable the contact.

6. Bend the Wiper Arm If Needed (optional)

If the wiper arm is bent, use a pair of pliers to bend it back so that the wiper arm is perpendicular to the windshield. If the wiper blades are not making contact with the windshield, adjust the arm closer or replace the entire wiper blade.Check the wiper rubber for wear and replace if necessary.

This process often involves moving the windshield wiper arm to the correct upright position. Ensure you adjust the driver side wiper too as it is critical for the driver's visibility. After adjustment, make sure that the wipers work at both low and high speeds.

Re-Timing the Windshield Wipers

1. Raise Wiper Arms to Upright Position

Raise the wiper arms.

2. Remove the Nuts

Unscrew and remove the nuts on the lower ends of the wiper arms. This separates the wiper arms from the wiper motor.

3. Turn on the Vehicle

Insert the key in the ignition switch and start the vehicle. Turn on the wiper motor, let it run for one cycle, and then turn it off again.

4. Readjust the Wiper Arms

Adjust the wiper arms towards the passenger. Reattach them using the socket wrench and nuts removed earlier.

5. Change Windshield Wipers Back to Original Position

Lower the windshield wipers back to their normal down position against the lower edge of the windshield.

The process of retiming the wipers involves detaching and reattaching the wiper arms to the wiper linkage to ensure they sweep across the windshield correctly. After this process, your wipers should return to the off position on the bottom of the windshield as normal.

Replacing the Windshield Wiper Motor

If your wipers are still not functioning correctly after these adjustments, you may need a new motor. Consult your owner's manual for instructions on replacing the windshield wiper motor or consider taking your car to a professional.

Fixing Misaligned Windshield Wipers

Misaligned windshield wipers, or incorrectly positioned windshield wipers, can reduce visibility, scratch the windshield or operate inefficiently.

  1. Misalignment Detection: Activate the wipers and observe where they are misaligned. It can be a rest position or a wide position.
  2. Follow the adjustment steps: Refer to the wiper adjustment section of this guide to correct the adjustment.
  3. Check Alignment: Reactivate the wipers to ensure they move correctly on the windshield and rest on the underside of the windshield in the off position.

Understand Wiper Positions and Choose the Right Wiper Blades for Your Ford

Proper wiper adjustment is a critical aspect of windshield maintenance to ensure good visibility and protect the windshield from potential damage. When dealing with a leading automotive brand like Ford, understanding how wiper blades are selected and positioned is crucial. Here's a step-by-step guide to help Ford owners.

How to Determine the Correct Position of the Wiper

Rest Position:‌ When the windscreen wipers are not in use, they should rest on the lower part of the windscreen, parallel to the edge. This is the default stop position for most vehicles including Ford models.

Swiping position:‌ When driving, the wipers must cover the entire windshield without crossing it. If the wipers touch the edges of the windshield, adjust the wiper position accordingly.

Upright Position:‌ It may be necessary to move the wipers to an upright position in order to clean or replace the wiper blades. Consult the Ford owner's manual for instructions on how to safely adjust the wipers for these tasks.

Choose the Right Wiper Blades for Your Ford.

When choosing the right windshield wiper blades for your Ford, consider the following:

Blade Size:‌ Consult your owner's manual or the official Ford website to find the correct blade size for your specific model.

Blade Style:‌ Choose from standard, blade, hybrid or winter wipers depending on your climate and driving conditions.

Blade Quality:‌ Investing in quality wiper blades ensures durability, efficiency and improved performance.

Compatibility:‌ Please ensure the wiper blades you select are compatible with your specific Ford model.

Visit a Ford dealer for helpIf you are having problems with wiper alignment, blade selection or installation, a visit to a Ford Dealership may be the perfect solution.

Stopping Windshield Wipers from Running When It's Not Raining

If the wipers continue to work when it is not raining, do the following:

Check the wiper switch: Make sure the wiper switch is off. Sometimes moisture or a bad connection can cause the wipers to malfunction.

Wiper Relay Control: A faulty relay can cause the wipers to run constantly.

Consult your owner's manual to locate the relay and consider replacing if necessary. Check the wiper motor: If the above solutions do not work, the cause could be the wiper motor.


This article is a guide to help you maintain your windshield wipers. However, always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines in your owner's manual for specific instructions related to your vehicle. If you're not comfortable performing these tasks, please consult a professional mechanic. Make sure to check your vehicle’s warranty, as some repairs might void it.

Final Thoughts

By following these steps, you'll ensure your windshield wipers are well-positioned, providing optimal visibility for safe driving in any weather. Remember, while sitting behind the steering wheel, your safety is paramount, and a well-functioning wiper system is an essential component of that safety. Performing these simple DIY tasks not only keeps your wipers in top shape but can also save you a trip to the mechanic.

Video: Wiper / Motor Realignment: HOW TO ESCAPE

Helpful comments on this video:

  • Great video, thank you! Clear, concise, easy to follow, and worked exactly as I needed.
  • This video saved me unnecessary spending. Thanks a lot. I did my 2016 Fusion SE just as you said and it worked. Clearly explained.

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