Troubleshooting Windshield Wiper Problems

by Robert Russell

Windshield wipers require routine maintenance and cleaning to keep them in good condition. Neglecting your wipers can lead to serious consequences because they are essential for driving safely in harsh weather conditions. Windshield wipers are simple mechanisms and in the majority of cases, a windshield wiper problem can be easily diagnosed and repaired. Many times they simply need a good cleaning or a little tightening with a wrench. A more serious problem is a faulty windshield wiper motor. But this is still a relatively inexpensive repair.

Gently pull the windshield wiper arm to the upright position until you feel it lock into place. Inspect the nut and bolt. A loose or broken bolt prevents the wiper arm from moving. Tighten the bolt and nut with an adjustable wrench or locking pliers, if loose. Replace if broken.

Clean the return spring, hinge pin and joint mechanism on the wiper arm with an all purpose cleaner. Spray the wiper arm and scrub the parts with a small brush or cloth. Dirt and debris interferes with the wiper arm and prevents it from moving properly.

Inspect the return spring, hinge pin and joint mechanism for signs of rust. Apply Naval Jelly to rusted areas. Allow the Jelly to penetrate the rust for five minutes. Scrub the rusted area with a wire brush or steel wool. Rinse off the Naval Jelly and rust residue with clean water.

Clean or replace the wiper blades. If the wiper arms move but the windshields leave streaks on the windshield or fail to clean the windshield properly, then the wiper blades are the problem. Clean the wiper blades with a glass cleaner and a soft cloth if they are in good condition. Replace wiper blades that are old and worn.

Replace the fuse if the windshield wipers don't move at all. Read the owner's manual to locate the fuse box and the fuse responsible for the wipers.

Make an appointment with an auto mechanic. If none of the above steps work, then you probably have a problem with the wiper motor or the switch that turns the wipers on and controls speed. Either the motor needs replacing or the wires may have become loose or corroded.

Items you will need

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera the future is here image by John Fatuzzo from Fotolia.com