Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Windshield Wiper Module

Most of us associate mechanical units like the windshield wiper blades, arm, and motor as being the most important elements for keeping the windshield clean. However, a tiny device known as the windshield wiper module is the real hero that really allows all of these individual components to work effectively. Just like any other mechanical component, it is susceptible to wear and tear and can break from time to time.

When you activate your windshield wipers, electricity is sent to the wiper motor, which in turn activates the linkage, and then operates the wiper arm to move the wiper blades across the windshield. The entire system is controlled by a windshield wiper module. Some mechanics refer to the wiper module as the wiper governor module. It is located underneath the dashboard, above the brake and accelerator pedal, and is responsible for the complete operation of the windshield wiper system. This device controls intermittent wiper operation, high/low speed wiping, and obviously turns the wipers on or off.

The windshield wiper module is pretty well protected from the outside elements; however, it is an electronic component and is subject to failure over time. If you suspect that there’s something wrong with your wipers, having your windshield wiper module inspected by a mechanic is a great starting point.

There are a few warning signs that will signal that you may have a bad or failing wiper module. Listed below are some of the symptoms that you should consider.

1. Wiper blades won't turn on or off

The wiper module's primary job is to send a signal to the wiper motor which powers the wiper blades. Before it can control the speed or duration of the wiper blades, it must first tell the motor to turn them on or signal them to shut off. There are several specific problems that might cause the wiper blades to not activate, including the switch itself, the motor, the linkage, or the wiper arms. If you notice that your wiper blades don't work after you've turned on the switch or activated them, or if they won't stop moving across your windshield, it’s a good idea to contact a local ASE certified mechanic as soon as possible to properly diagnose the exact cause and repair the issue.

2. Wiper blades operate erratically

The wiper module also sends a signal from the switch on your signal arm or steering wheel to the motor to move the blades. There are several settings on the switch ranging from speed to interval time. If you choose a setting on the wiper switch but that setting is not activated or displayed on the wiper blades themselves, this might indicate that the module is experiencing trouble relaying the message to the wiper motor. If you notice that your blades are moving faster or slower than they should, it could also indicate a problem with the module exists. In either case, a professional mechanic will be needed to correctly diagnose and replace the wiper module is needed.

3. Windshield wiper motor doesn't move but you hear it working

The most common sign that a problem exists with the wiper module is when you activate the switch but don't see the wiper blades moving. You'll be able to hear an electric signal coming from under your dashboard which is the wiper motor, but the wiper blades are not moving as they are directed. This is typically caused by an internal circuit inside the wiper module that sends a power signal to the wiper motor, but not a duration indicator. In this situation, you'll have to contact a local ASE certified mechanic to replace the module as this issue can't be repaired.

The windshield wipers are a not a convenience; they are needed for safe operation of any vehicle. If you notice any of the above warning signs or symptoms of a bad or failing windshield wiper module, contact a local mechanic that can visit you at home or your office and properly inspect your vehicle.

As we indicated above, many of these warning signs may be caused by mechanical components other than the module, so make sure an expert helps you determine exactly what is wrong before buying any parts or making any repairs.


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