How to Fix Windshield Wipers That Stopped Working for Any Reason

October 19, 2020Fixing Your Car
Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

Certain car parts might let us down when we need them the most, for example, when it is pouring rain, and you’re driving home from work. If you don’t know how to fix windshield wipers that stopped working in that situation, you’re probably going to lose your mind. But there’s no room for panic. We will share everything we know about these small, yet crucial, car components, and most importantly, how to fix them when they fail.

Once you start taking lessons and learning all driving tips for beginners, you’ll quickly realize how complex these machines are, and that learning how to drive them is just the first step. Car maintenance is an ongoing process, and you can expect that there will always be something to fix, whether you bought some of the most expensive cars in the world, or you’re buying a car from a dealer who bought from an auction. These things are made to eventually break once they exceed their life span, so that is something you should expect to happen sooner or later. Just as you should know how to use a tire repair kit or how to change a flat tire, you should know how to fix a windshield wiper.

How Does a Windshield Wiper Work?

Even though we don’t use them daily, windshield wipers are an essential component of every vehicle. Whether it is rain, snow, washer fluid, water, or ice, they are there to keep the window clean and improve road visibility by moving back and forth to sweep the water. Generally speaking, they are designed to sweep 1.5 million times.

To perform this seemingly simple task, this is what each wiper consists of:

  • Metal arm with the rubber blade on the bottom side
  • Electric motor and worm gear reduction are used for power.
  • A linkage that converts the motor power into back-and-forth moves

In most cases, there is low and high speed and intermittent setting during which the wipers have a brief break between each wipe. These are only the basic settings, and newer cars come with more options or a sliding scale that allows you to customize the speed. Usually, with a too slow setting, your visibility will be reduced by too many raindrops, and at high speeds the window gets dry, but the blades tend to squeak. However, a rain-sensing wiper seems to be the answer to many’s prayers when it comes to this segment.

When wipers fail to perform, and they don’t work, the vehicle is considered unsafe. Various car types use different wiping schemes, but they move in the tandem system or in the opposed system in most cases. The vast majority of models use the standard dual wiper system, but you can also find a single-arm system. For example, on some Mercedes cars, they use the so-called mono blade wiper.

Have you ever tried to repair something in your car without the mechanic? Don't worry. This is easy.
In order to maintain your vehicle properly, you have to know its components and how to repair them.

What Can Cause Windshield Wipers to Stop Working? 7 Different Problem Categories and How to Fix Them, No Need to Fuss About the Fuse

Apparently there’s a lot of reasons why your windshield wipers are not working, but luckily, we know a solution for every case. You might not know how to replace U-joints or how to disconnect a car alarm, but there’s enough time to learn. We learn as we drive, and with every situation, you’ll get to know your vehicle a bit better. So, how to fix windshield wipers that won’t move? Don’t let driving anxiety kick in. There’s a solution for everything.

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How Do You Know If Your Windshield Wiper Fuse Is Blown and How to Replace It?

By far, the most common cause of problems is the fuse. In the vast majority of cases, this will be the cause of why your wiper doesn’t move. When the fuse cancels, your wipers won’t move at all once you try to turn them on. So, how to fix a windshield wiper that won’t move?

Luckily, when the fuses burn out, you can easily replace them by yourself because they are inexpensive. If you can’t locate the fuses, you should consult your driver’s manual. Keep in mind that depending on the type of auto, fuses can be located in different areas.

How Do You Reset a Windshield Wiper Motor That Stopped Working?

The wiper motor is another component that can occasionally fail and put you in a not so comfortable situation. Unfortunately, there are not many options for you in that case, because it needs to be replaced. To do that, you have to remove the cowl so you can have full access, and maybe some other components that could be covering it.

How can you tell if your windshield wiper motor is bad? If your wipers are not moving, there’s something going on, so first, you should inspect the fuse. If the fuse is ok, then most likely the motor died. Take a look at this video to see how easily you can remove it and install a new one.

YouTube video

Loose Pivot Nuts and How to Fix Them

Loose pivot nuts can also cause your wipers to struggle with performance and stop wiping properly. Nuts are in charge of connecting the metal arms to the wiper transmission, so when they are not screwed tightly, there will be a noticeable lack of performance. This can happen often, but it does not always occur on both sides at the same time.

So if you notice that only one wiper is struggling or not working, loose nuts might be the cause. Simply tighten it and check the second one to ensure it is also tight. After that, test them to check if you managed to repair it successfully.

Don’t Use Torn or Broken Wiper Blades, Learn How to Remove Them

If used frequently, those rubber edges might start to deteriorate and tear, which leads to a lack of performance. Torn rubber doesn’t make proper contact with the glass window, meaning that they are not so useful. Over time they’ll deteriorate more and more without being able to wipe the dirt or rain, which can be unsafe. Poor visibility is a common cause of accidents, so you shouldn’t put yourself and other passengers at risk.

Another thing is that metal and plastic parts will start scratching the glass once the rubber begins falling apart. However, this can be solved easily, because all you need is a new pair of wiper blades, and you can change them within two minutes. They are inexpensive, and it is recommended to change them once every six months, whether you’re driving in Los Angeles or in rainy Portland. Also, if you’re buying a used car or looking at some of the best import cars, this is something you should inspect and change on time.

Problems With the Relay

Another reason why your wiper blade might not be wiping properly or at all could be the relay. Sometimes the relay gets stuck, or it just stops working, so you have to examine what’s going on to detect the problem and solve it. Also, if your wipers are moving in high and low speed, but not in the intermittent mode, or any combinations where one mode is working, and the other is not – that’s a signal of a faulty relay.

You need to locate your relay, and again, it could be located in a few different places, depending on your car model. You should be able to easily remove it and insert a new one. It is an inexpensive component. But first, you should ask a friend to help you examine if the relay really is the cause, by turning on the control button.

Control Switch Is Not Working

The control switch is a sensitive component that could fail for several reasons, meaning that your wipers won’t be getting a signal to turn on and start wiping. This usually happens due to some bad contacts inside of it. When you turn the switch on, you should hear a click. If you don’t hear it, it is either the switch or the relay that stopped working.

A spare control switch is not expensive, but in order to replace it, you’ll have to remove the trims around the steering wheel to have full access. If you’ve never done this, it could be wiser to let your mechanic do the repairs without risking to do any additional damage.

Ice and Snow on the Blades

This is a common problem in areas where there’s a lot of snowfall, so if you’re transporting your car to Alaska, for example, prepare for many issues due to snow. Snow and ice are heavy, so cleaning them with the wipers could easily bend, break, or slowly but surely deteriorate your car parts.

You should manually clean the ice and snow from the blades, and don’t wait for it to build up. Ice scraper should be the tool you’ll use to clean the glass from ice and snow. However, there are some special winter wiper blades made especially for extreme conditions. They are more durable and can cope better with the snow. All in all, inspect wipers regularly if you’re living in a snowy area.

Do you think you're ready now to repair it by yourself?
There are many reasons why these components might fail to perform, but it is up to you to get to know them.

What to Do If Your Windshield Wipers Stop Working in the Rain?

This sounds like a short horror story that would give driving stress even to the calmest drivers because it can be dangerous if it is very heavy rainfall, and the visibility is low. Whether you’re driving home from work or you’re driving to another state, this could be a very unpleasant situation. This is also one of the reasons why people ship cars with car shipping companies, so they don’t get in situations like that.

You might have heard about these rare situations in some of the best TV shows about cars, but you don’t know how it really is until it happens to you. So, what to do then? The truth is, there’s not much you can do if you’re driving on the open road on some of the most famous routes in the United States unless to park aside and wait for that heavy rainfall to stop.

This is one of those worst-case scenarios when there's not much you can do.
If they let you down when you need them the most, there's not much you can do.

What Could Cause My Windshield Wipers to Not Turn Off?

On the other hand, there is a situation when they just won’t stop wiping. The majority of people worry about what to do when they are not working. But do you wonder how to make them stop when they just keep moving? When the blades don’t respond to the commands, you either have a problem with the switch, relay, or a faulty park switch. The only way to solve this is to determine what’s the cause and replace that component. If you can’t figure it out by yourself, you can always pay a visit to your mechanic.

It could happen that once the rain stops, your wipers are still moving, that's another signal that something is wrong.
The rain stopped, but they didn't? What now?

Now You Know How to Fix Windshield Wipers That Stopped Working Before Car Shipping

If you’re looking to prepare your car for shipping, either on an enclosed trailer or an open trailer, this is something you shouldn’t skip testing and fixing if necessary. Your vehicle won’t be considered inoperable, but it is better to check everything on time and get spare parts from your trustworthy dealer or mechanic.

If you are packing a car for moving and looking to drive for hours to your future home, you should know your vehicle very well, including how to change a tail light, start a car with jumper cables, or adjust a parking brake. If you’re not so familiar with your vehicle, driving it might not be the cheapest way to transport your car to another state. Choose a reputable car shipping company and get familiar with all the pros and cons of open and enclosed auto transport, which one is safer, cost-effective, faster, and so on.

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