If you’re a DIY car owner, knowing how to fix windshield wiper motor problems should be a skill that you are eager to learn. It offers you the chance to do what you love while also taking care of your car and avoiding mechanic costs. This section details the wiper motor repair as a step by step process. For those who choose professional service, we included information about the wiper motor repair cost so you can budget appropriately.
Deciding between repair and replacement requires you to know the fixable wiper motor problems, so we will start with that. Some faults, such as excessive wear or burnt out motor, cannot be repaired, for example. Below are symptoms of a bad windshield wiper motor that indicate repairable faults.
- Worn wiper motor parts such as brushes causing the motor to fail
- Dirt causing slow windshield wipers
- Worn or clogged wiper park switch causing the windshield wipers to park in the wrong position
- Faulty wiper motor module causing the wiper system, including the motor assembly, to malfunction
- Broken or worn wiper motor gear affecting the smooth working of the wipers
- A blown fuse or wiper relay problems causing the wipers or motor to stop working
- Faulty wires or connectors cutting off power and causing the motor to run slower or not to operate at all
After confirming a fixable problem, you can now decide to remove the wiper motor for repair. In the previous section, we saw how to diagnose windshield wiper motor faults, from observing symptoms to testing individual parts. With that information, we assume that you have already isolated wiper motor assembly as the cause of wiper failure. If that’s the case, let’s go straight to the repair steps.
How to fix Windshield Wiper Motor Problems
- Wrench and socket set
- Screwdrivers (large and small)
- Penetrating fluid if there are stuck or rusted bolts
- Windshield wiper removal tool (optional)
- Multipurpose Cleaner
- High heat grease
- wiper motor repair kit (contains the replaceable wiper motor parts)
With everything sourced, you can now start the repair process. Here is how to fix windshield wiper motor parts on most cars. Note that the procedure applies to the front motor. For rear wiper motor repair, the method to remove it will be different.
Step 1 Disconnect the Battery
Disconnect and secure the battery. You will be working on electrical components such as wires and you do not want them carrying current.
Step 2 Remove the Wiper Arms
Use a screwdriver to pick the cap that covers the wiper arm nut. With the bolt exposed, use a ratchet and socket to remove it. You may have to spray penetrating fluid to free the bolt. A wiper arm removal tool makes taking out the wiper arm easy (see video). Repeat the process on the other arm.
Step 3 Remove the Wiper Cowl
Remove the fasteners that secure the wiper cowl and take it out. Do so gently to avoid breakage. Removing the cowl will help you to access the wiper linkages for easier removal of the wiper motor assembly.
Step 4 Locate and Remove the Wiper Motor
Find the wiper motor location and detach the electrical connector before unbolting and removing it.
In older cars, the motor is usually in the engine bay. In most need cars, the motor is located close to the wiper cowl and mounted to the firewall. Consult your car’s manual if you have trouble locating it.
In some cars, the motor is only accessible by removing a cover first. In others, it’s mounted in the open. Some wiper motors, especially the pushrod types, can be removed together with the wiper linkages. Others require you to detach the linkage first and remove the motor separately.
Use the appropriate method to remove your wiper motor, either by removing the linkage bolts or by disconnecting the motor from the linkage and unbolting it.
Step 5 Fix the Wiper Motor
Place the wiper motor on a flat surface. If you had removed it alongside the wiper linkages, disconnect it first. Use these steps to repair different wiper motor parts.
- Remove the long bolts that hold the housing to the end plate or gearbox assembly. This will detach the housing. Using a piece of cloth and cleaner, remove dirt from the housing internal surfaces
- Inspect the commutator and clean it. Clean the armature, too. Check the brushes for wear. They will most likely be worn. Replace them
- Next, open the wiper motor gearbox by removing the screws that secure the plastic cover. This will expose the park limit switch and the gear mechanism. These are usually greased. Use your cleaner to remove dirt so you can inspect the parts.
- Check the gears and replace those that are worn or broken
- Check the wiper park switch for wear and dirt too and clean it replace it
- Inspect the electrical connectors and cables for breakage, fraying, and dirt or corrosion. Clean or replace the damaged ones
Step 6 Assemble the Wiper Motor Assembly
After you are done fixing the repairable parts, it’s now time put the wiper motor back together. Grease the moving parts to replace the dried up lubricant. Use the reverse of the disassembly process to assemble the wiper motor.
Step 7 Re-install Wiper Motor
Reconnect the motor to the wiper linkage if it came out with the linkage. If not, mount it and re-attach the wiper parts using the reverse of the method that you used to disconnect it. Replace the electrical connectors and the battery cable.
Step 8 Test the wiper Motor Operation
Start the wipers and confirm that the motor is working. If the wiper will not work but the motor works, the problem is in the linkages. They are either clogged with dirt, broken, or too worn. You need to repair them.
How to Repair Wiper Linkage
Wiper linkage repair involves cleaning parts that have accumulated dirt or debris, tightening loose components, or replacing broken and worn parts. The linkage parts are sold individually or as a kit. Here is how fix windshield wiper linkage problems.
Start by inspecting the linkage for dirt buildup or loose parts. These will either need tightening or cleaning. If there are broken components, the only option is to change them. Ensure also, that the wiper arms and blades are in good condition by inspecting to dirt or debris and breakage.
The problem can also be further than at the wiper motor assembly or linkage. It could be a bad fuse, faulty control module, or damaged relay. The wiper switch might also be the problem. You may want to check it for corrosion and broken parts or have a professional inspect and fix it.
Wiper Motor Repair Cost
Despite knowing how to fix windshield wiper motor, you may still want the car repaired at a professional repair facility. How much should you expect to pay for service? The windshield wiper motor repair cost will largely depend on the nature and extent of damage. Other factors that come into play include your type of car, type of motor and the specific repair shop.
On average, the cost of wiper motor repair ranges from $75 to $200. The charges include the cost of labor as well as parts. Going the DIY reduces the wiper motor repair cost to less than $50, which is the price for replaceable components such as gears and connectors.
If you opt for a complete wiper motor rebuilt you will have more parts to change, and the cost will be higher. It’s recommended, therefore, to consider the price of new motor assembly before going the rebuild way.
When your wipers fail, the culprit is often the wiper motor. Knowing how to fix windshield wiper problems, therefore, is a skill that you will find useful, especially if a DIY enthusiast. The repair steps described here will help you repair your car wipers. But there are times when you cannot restore the wipers by fixing the motor. For replacement steps, read the next part of the guide.