Windshield wipers are crucial parts of your vehicle, keeping you safe during inclement weather. If you’re having issues with your wipers, fix them quickly or risk becoming a danger to yourself and others on the road.
How Windshield Wipers Work
Windshield wipers have a squeegee that swipes across the windshield when you turn them on. The squeegee may be rubber or plastic, having a small metal blade attached to one end.
A wiper blade consists of three main parts:
- The squeegee wipes water off the glass;
- The backplate holds the blade together and attaches to the wiper arm; and
- The wiper arm attaches to the vehicle and moves up and down when needed.
It also has a washer pump which provides pressure to spray water onto your windshield whenever you activate your washer fluid nozzle.
Are My Wipers Functioning Properly?
A quick test to see if your windshield wipers are working is to turn on the ignition and switch them on at high speed.
If the blades move smoothly and evenly across the glass, they’re probably in good shape. However, if there’s any skipping or stuttering in the movement, then it’s time for a change.
You can also check whether the arms move freely by opening and closing them manually with no blade attached. If there’s any binding or resistance, this could indicate a problem with either the arm or linkage.
Wiper fluid is the liquid that lubricates your windshield wipers. Low fluid levels mean more friction which may cause streaking or smear on your window.
Remove the cap from under your hood and check how much fluid there is inside (usually marked with an arrow).
Now that you have learned how to inspect your wipers let’s go through some common wiper problems and how to fix them.
7 Common Windshield Wiper Problems & Their Causes
Windshield wipers can break down for many reasons: Some common ones include wear, tear, corrosion, and even improper installation.
Below is a more in-depth dive into these problems:
1. Worn-out wipers
Worn-out windshield wipers are a common problem with wipers. They can be due to:
- old age
- poor maintenance
If your wipers are leaving streaks or skipping across the glass, replace or fix them ASAP.
2. Damaged wiper motor
The wiper motor may be damaged if you have hit something with your vehicle, causing the rotor to bend or break.
3. Windshield wipers don’t move
If your windshield wipers don’t move when turned on, it could be that they aren’t getting power: A faulty relay or fuse can cause such problems.
You should check for power issues before assuming your motor is faulty.
If one of the two items isn’t functioning well, it could prevent the motor from turning on.
4. Clogged wiper fluid reservoir
Another common problem with wipers is a clogged wiper fluid reservoir. Too much dirt can block up the tube leading from the reservoir to your windshield wipers.
In addition, the fluid clogs with dust and other debris over time.
This clogging reduces the pressure in your system, slowing down the blades as they move across.
5. Broken switch
If the switch that operates your wipers breaks, the wipers may not operate when you turn them on.
6. Corroded wiper arms
Another common problem with windshield wipers is rusty wiper arms, and this happens when water enters the arm causing rust over time.
Rust damages the arm, making it ineffective at wiping away rain from your windshield.
If you notice streaks on your glass when driving, it might be due to corroded arms.
7. Broken wiper arm
A common problem with windshield wipers is a broken wiper arm. Wrong twisting of wiper arms, hitting something like a branch or another vehicle cause this breaking.
How to Fix Windshield Wipers
Wipers are a great feature on your car, but they can be a pain when not working correctly.
The good news is that most problems with wipers are simple to fix. Here are some ways to fix windshield wipers:
1. Check the wiper fluid level.
Check the wiper fluid level if you have difficulty seeing through your windshield due to faulty wipers. Low fluid levels in the reservoir can cause intermittent or complete wiper failure.
Check your owner’s manual for instructions on adding fluid to your vehicle. If necessary, add fluid until it reaches the whole line on the reservoir tank. Then try using your wipers again and see if they work better than before.
2. Check the arm and linkage for damage or wear.
Look for any breaks in or cracks on the rubber components that move with your wipers. Replace the worn-out parts or if damaged beyond repair.
Make sure the screws and bolts are secure and tight. Remember, moving vehicle parts may catch loose parts and damage other systems– as well as wiper operation
3. Check the fuse box.
If your wiper blades aren’t working at all, check the fuse box under the hood of your car. Make sure it hasn’t blown out and has power going through it.
If there is power going through the fuse but still no action on wipers, replace the fuse instead. That way, you might save some money if something else goes wrong down the road.
4. Check the wiper blades for any cracks, bends, or other damage.
Inspect the wipers for cracks and bends. If you find any, replace them.
You can get new blades at your local auto parts store. Make sure to buy a blade that matches the size of your windshield when shopping for new blades.
You can also replace them yourself if you feel comfortable doing so.
5. Clean off all dirt and debris that may have stuck to the wipers themselves.
Too much dirt on the wiper blades can cause streaking and poor visibility while in motion.
To clean off your windshield wipers, use soap and water on a rag to wipe down each blade. After that, you can put them back into place on your car’s windshield frame.
6. Clean debris from under the hood
The blades on your wipers must move freely across your windshield without any obstacle. So, if there is dirt or other debris under your hood, clean it off first before considering other fixes.
7. Clean the clogged fluid reservoir
A clogged fluid reservoir can cause windshield problems.
To fix this problem:
- Remove the cap from the wiper fluid reservoir
- Clean out any debris inside with a paper towel or rag dipped in water.
- Rinse thoroughly until all traces of dirt are gone.
Next, try your wipers to see if it’s working better than before.
How to Replace Windshield Wipers
Replacing your windshield wipers is a quick and easy job. You’ll need to remove the old wiper blades, clean off the windshield, and install the new ones.
1. Remove old wiper blades
Before replacing your windshield wipers, you need to remove the old ones.
If your car has a single wiper arm and blade assembly, lift on the wiper arm, then pull it straight out of the holder.
If your car has two arms, pull out one at a time by lifting it as you pull it straight out of its holder.
2. Clean off the roof area
Before removing new windshield wipers from their packaging, clean off any debris stuck on top or in between them. You don’t want this gunk stuck under your new wipers when you put them on!
3. Install new wipers
After removing the old wipers from their mounts, take the new ones and slide them onto the mounts until they lock into place again.
Make sure it clicks into place, so you know it’s secure!
Your windshield wipers are the eye cleaners of your car: They help you see clearly and stay safe on the road. If they aren’t working correctly, it can be hard to see where you’re going, and you might get involved in an accident.