Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Windshield Wiper Motor

If you can't see the road, it's virtually impossible to safely operate a vehicle. The windshield wipers are specifically engineered to help clear rain, snow, dirt, and other debris from the windshield. Each wiper system is unique for every vehicle, manufactured for maximum efficiency and in many cases to improve the vehicle’s aesthetics. If the wiper blades are the arms and hands of your car's wiper system, the wiper motor would definitely be the heart.

In order to move back and forth across the windshield, the windshield wipers are controlled by the windshield motor. When you activate the windshield switch on your turn signal indicator or other control arm next to your steering wheel, it sends a signal to the motor and operates the wipers at different speeds and duration. When the wiper blades don't move after turning on the switch, it's often caused by a malfunction in the wiper motor.

Although the likelihood of having a problem with your windshield wiper motor is rare, there are a few warning signs that will alert you that the wiper motor is damaged or needs to be replaced.

1. Wiper blades move slower than programmed

Today's modern cars, trucks, and SUVs have programmable wiper blades that can operate at multiple speeds and different delays. If you activate the wiper switch to a fast speed or high setting and the wiper blades move slower than they should, it may be caused by a problem with the wiper motor. Sometimes the mechanical components inside the motor will be clogged with debris, grime, or other particles. If this happens, it can impact the speed of the motor. If you experience this type of problem with your wiper blades, it's a smart idea to contact a local ASE certified mechanic as soon as possible, so they can inspect the wiper motor and other components that may be causing this problem.

2. Wiper blades only have one speed

On the opposite side of the equation, if you activate the wiper switch and try to change speeds or settings, but the wipers move the same all the time, it may also be a problem with the wiper motor. The wiper motor receives a signal from the wiper module, so the issue may be with the module as well. When you notice this symptom, before you decide to replace the wiper motor, make sure you work with a local ASE certified mechanic so they can determine if the problem is with the motor or module. You'll save a lot of money, time, and trouble by contacting the mechanic first.

3. Wiper blades don't move

If you've turned on your wiper switch and the blades don't move at all or you don't hear the motor working, it's very likely that the motor is damaged or that an electrical problem exists. Sometimes it can be caused by a blown fuse that operates the wiper motor. However, a fuse will only burn out if there is an electrical overload of power to that particular circuit. In any case, a more serious problem exists which should inspire you to contact a mechanic to diagnose what is causing the electrical issue and repair it so it does not damage other components on your vehicle.

4. Wiper blades don't park in the correct position

When you turn the wiper blades off, they are supposed to move into a "parked" position. Typically this means the wiper blades will return to the bottom of your windshield and lock into place. This is not always the case, so you should check your owner manual to verify that your car, truck, or SUV has this option. However, if you turn your wiper blades off and the blades stay in the same position on your windshield, blocking your view, this is typically a problem with the motor and often results in needing to replace the windshield washer motor.

The windshield wiper motor is usually not a part that is repaired. Due to the complexity of the device, most windshield wiper motors are replaced by certified ASE mechanics. A new wiper motor can last a very long time, and with routine service, you should never experience a problem with your wiper blades. If you notice any of the above warning signs, contact a local ASE certified mechanic so they can diagnose the precise mechanical fault and repair it as soon as possible.


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