Troubleshooting Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

Windshield Wiper Motor problems

  • Windsheild Wiper Motor Problems
  • Symptoms of Wiper Motor Failure
  • Diagnosis of Wiper Motor Problems
  • Troubleshooting
  • FAQs

A windshield wiper motor is an electric component that powers the wiper blades across a windshield. It is crucial for a vehicle’s safety system as it ensures clear visibility during adverse weather conditions. However, like any mechanical part, windshield wiper motor can experience problems over time and significantly compromise safety. 

Let’s find out the common windshield wiper motor problems, their diagnosis and potential fixes.

Common Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

There are several reasons for a malfunctioning windshield wiper motor, here’s a breakdown of the most frequent problems:

Electrical Faults

Electrical faults are among the most common windshield wiper motor problems. These faults can manifest in various forms:

Broken Wires

Wires connecting the motor to the vehicle’s electrical system may get damaged due to wear and tear or exposure to the environment.

Loose Connections

Loose or corroded electrical connections can disrupt the flow of power to the motor, resulting in erratic wiper movement or complete failure to operate.

Failing components are a common cause of windshield wiper motor problems
Loose or worn components of a windshield wiper motor can impair its optimal performance

Blown Fuses

A blown fuse in the car’s fuse box can cut off the power supply to the wiper motor, rendering it inoperable. It often occurs due to overheating or a short circuit.

Faulty Relays

Relays are electrical switches that control the flow of electricity to the motor. A malfunctioning car relay can prevent the motor from receiving the necessary power to operate.

Malfunctioning Wiper Switch

The wiper switch is located on the vehicle’s dashboard or steering column. It may malfunction and prevent the driver from activating the wipers. It can be due to internal electrical issues or physical damage to the switch mechanism.

Clogging

Dirt, debris and grime can accumulate within the motor assembly or wiper linkage over time, leading to clogging and obstruction of moving parts. This can impair the smooth operation of the wipers and strain the motor, causing it to operate inefficiently or fail altogether. 

However, regular car maintenance including the wiper system maintenance can help prevent clogging and prolong the motor’s lifespan.

Maintenance of windshield wiper system
Regular cleaning of the windshield wiper blades can help prevent clogging issues

Wearing of Internal Components 

The internal components of a windshield wiper motor are subjected to constant movement and friction during operation, causing them to wear down over time. Common parts of the windshield wiper motor that may experience wear include:

Gears

Plastic gears inside the motor can wear down or become stripped, leading to noisy and inefficient wiper movement.

Bushings

Bushings provide support and reduce friction between moving parts. They can wear out, causing increased noise and vibration during operation.

Bearings

Bearings that facilitate smooth rotation of the motor’s shaft may degrade over time, resulting in increased friction and reduced motor performance. Nonetheless, regular lubrication and inspection of these components can help mitigate wear and extend the motor’s lifespan.

Breakage

In addition to wear, certain components of the car windshield wiper motor assembly, such as plastic gears, arms or linkages, are susceptible to breakage. This can occur due to excessive force, impact or prolonged exposure to harsh environmental conditions. In addition, a broken component can disrupt the motor’s function and may require replacement to restore proper wiper operation.

Symptoms of a Failing Wiper Motor

Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for a malfunctioning windshield wiper motor:

Slow Wiper Movement

If your wipers move sluggishly, even at high speeds, it could indicate a worn-out motor. Over time, the motor’s brushes and internal components wear down, reducing their efficiency.

Inconsistent Wiper Operation

One of the windshield wiper motor symptoms include erratic wiper movement. This can signify a faulty motor connection or internal electrical issues. As a result, the wipers can start and stop moving unexpectedly or move at varying speeds.

Wiper blades may not function correctly due to a faulty windshield wiper motor
Impaired wiper function is one of the common symptoms of a faulty windshield wiper motor

Unusual Wiper Noise

A noisy wiper motor, producing grinding, squeaking or clicking sounds, suggests underlying issues with the motor’s bearings, gears or electrical connections.

Wiper Blades Don’t Park Properly

Windshield wipers may not return to their resting position owing to a malfunctioning motor. A worn-out park switch mechanism within the motor can be the culprit behind this sign.

Complete Wiper Failure

In the worst-case scenario, the motor might completely cease to function, rendering the wipers inoperable. This could be due to a burnt-out motor, a broken connection or a seized internal component.

Diagnosing Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

Diagnosing the exact cause of a car wiper motor not working properly can sometimes require professional assistance. However, there are some initial checks you can perform:

Visually Inspect the Wiper Blades

Worn-out or damaged car windshield wiper blades can cause drag and put additional strain on the motor. To eliminate this cause, try to replace worn blades with new ones as soon as the issue is detected.

Check the Wiper Linkages

Ensure the wiper linkages are free of rust, debris or damage that could hinder their movement. Make sure to lubricate any linkages, if necessary.

Checking wiper linkages is one of the methods of diagnosing windshield wiper motor issues
Make sure that the wiper linkages are clean and correctly aligned to avoid hindrances in performance

Test the Wiper Fuse

A blown fuse can prevent power from reaching the motor. In case you detect a blown fuse, it is best to consult your car’s manual to locate the wiper fuse and check its condition. On the other hand, you may replace the fuse to prevent wiper motor failure.

Troubleshooting Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

Once the potential cause of the windshield wiper motor problem has been identified, try to  attempt some basic troubleshooting steps:

Clean the Wiper Motor

Dirt and grime buildup around the motor can cause malfunctioning issues. To avoid this, gently clean the motor housing with a damp cloth and remove any debris.

Tighten Loose Connections

Over time, electrical connections can become loose. Check the wiring harness connected to the motor and ensure all connections are secure.

Auto expert routinely checking the car wiper blades
Auto mechanic checking the wiper blades as part of regular inspection

Replace the Wiper Blades

As mentioned earlier, worn-out wiper blades can strain the motor. It is better to replace the car wiper blades with new ones, designed for your specific model.

If the troubleshooting steps don’t resolve the issue, it is advisable to seek professional help from auto experts. They can diagnose the problem more thoroughly and recommend appropriate repairs or replacements.

FAQs

How can I tell if my windshield wiper motor is bad?

Several signs can indicate a failing wiper motor. These include slow wiper movement even at high speeds, inconsistent wiper operation, wipers not parking in their actual position or unusual grinding noise during wiper operation.

How can I test my windshield wiper motor?

Testing a wiper motor requires using a multimeter to measure voltage. This process can be complex, so it’s recommended to consult a qualified mechanic for an accurate diagnosis. 

What are the steps to test a windshield wiper motor?

The general steps to test a windshield wiper motor are as follows: 

  • Locating the wiper motor (refer to your car manual if needed).
  • Disconnecting the wiper motor connector.
  • Identifying the positive and negative pins on the connector.
  • Setting the multimeter to measure voltage.
  • Connecting the multimeter probes to the respective pins on the connector.
  • Checking the voltage reading. Around 12 volts suggests a burnt-out motor, while no voltage reading indicates an upstream issue like a blown fuse.

How can I maintain my windshield wiper motor?

Here are some tips to extend the life of your wiper motor:

  • Always allow the wipers to return to their home position before turning off the engine.
  • Avoid using high speeds on a dry windshield or with debris present. It is also one of the tips to avoid windshield wiper streaks from staining the windshield. 
  • Regularly remove debris from the windshield before using the wipers as part of car windshield maintenance.
  • If your car sits unused for long periods, ensure the wipers can move freely before operating them.
  • Lubricate the wiper linkage periodically (consult your car manual for recommended grease).
  • Address worn or broken wiper motor parts promptly to prevent further damage.

That is all about the windshield wiper motor problems, their symptoms, diagnosis and troubleshooting steps. Recognising the symptoms of a failing motor and seeking professional assistance can help prevent potential accidents in adverse weather. Moreover, make sure to add maintenance of the windshield wiper components as part of the monthly car maintenance checklist. 

Besides, you can also check for a new pair of windshield wipers from this listing for car parts and accessories for sale in the UAE.

For more on car parts and repair, stay tuned to the dubizzle auto blog. 

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