It is the season for windshield wiper problems. Overall the system was designed to be extremely reliable. With that said it is not invincible. Common driver complaints can include poor wiping where the windshield is not swept completely clean as the wipers pass up and back.
Another big complaint would be extremely noisy wiper operation (addressed below). Other complaints related to the wiper linkage or arms may include situations where they are out of adjustment and could be slapping the windshield moldings.
I have seen situations were the blades are touching each other as they sweep back and forth. Although not as common would be other complaints such as intermittent operation and slower than normal sweeping action. We will discuss all of these windshield wiper problems below. I have made available some of the parts that are often required to solve these issues including new wiper blades.
Common windshield wiper problems
The driver complaint about the wipers not clearing the windshield properly is often due to problems with the wiper blade itself. Nicks in the rubber and bent brackets that hold the wiper blade insert are some of the most common problems associated with the windshield wiper that does not clear properly. In many cases replacing the windshield wiper blades will correct both of these conditions.
Also keep in mind that the rubber on the wiper blades themselves will harden over time which will reduce the efficiency of the blades and can cause extremely irritating noise. As a general rule of thumb I replace my own wiper blades about once a year whether they need it or not.
When the wiper blades become out of time or do not park low enough or hit a windshield molding this can be a sign of bent parts. Often this can be traced back to the wiper transmission linkage or the arms themselves. The most common cause of bent windshield wiper parts is a driver that does not clear the windshield of built up snow and just turns the wipers on.
Windshield wiper systems were not designed to move heavy loads. Also in some cases the wiper blades can become frozen to the windshield. When you turn the wipers on the force of the motor breaks the blades loose but at the same time can damage the wiper transmission linkage and other parts that are connected to it.
Windshield wiper motor problems
If the wipers are working slower then would be considered normal one of the quickest ways to figure out if it is a motor problem or a binding linkage problem would be to disconnect the wiper linkage at the motor. Then turn on the wiper system and if the motor runs properly without laboring the problem is most likely not with the motor but with the wiper transmission or linkage.
If you are not sure on what the condition of the motor is, you can always take your automotive meter and measure the resistance and compare it to the specification in your service manual. You can confirm a binding wiper transmission or linkage by operating the wipers by hand. Not only should they be easy to move but they should be consistently smooth with no harder to move areas or binding taking place.
If the wiper motor does not run in a particular speed or not at all, an electrical problem should be considered. Checking the wiper fuse is a good place to start if the wipers are not working. On most vehicles a separate wiper fuse is supplied. If you suspect you have an electrical problem I recommend following the diagnostic tree chart in your car service manual for wiper problems. These systems are fairly straightforward and have not gone through too many changes over the years. Therefore the diagnostic charts are some of the easier ones to follow.
If you are interested in learning more about automotive electronics I have a repair module dedicated to not only some basic information but also theory and operation. You can read through this section from this next link that will take you to the automotive electrical problems area. For more of the latest posts on this auto repair information blog this next link will take to the home page from this page about windshield wiper problems.