Windshield Wiper Problems: 5 Common Issues & Fixes

A clean and unobstructed view of the road is imperative for safe driving, and your windscreen wipers play an important part in maintaining that vision during bad weather. 

Windscreen wipers, like any mechanical component of a car, can suffer from frequent problems that limit their efficacy.

So come along with us as we investigate the most common wiper problems and how to solve them.

1. Wiper Motor Malfunctioning

When your wiper blades display strange behavior, such as delayed movement, sporadic changes, or are completely motionless it indicates that the wiper motor is malfunctioning.

The wiper motor is the beating heart of your vehicle’s wiper system. It is in charge of controlling the movement of the wiper arms and blades over the windscreen. 

When you turn on your wipers using the control stalk or switching inside your car, an electrical signal is transmitted to the wiper motor, causing it to begin moving the wipers. 

The wiper motor converts this electrical input into mechanical movement, which is then sent to the wiper arms and, eventually, the blades.

Windshield wipers from inside car

Here are a handful of indicators that your wiper motor isn’t working properly:

  • Inactivity: If you switch the wipers on and there is no reaction, it is a strong indication that the wiper motor has failed.
  • Slow or uneven wiper blade movement: If your wiper blades move slowly or unevenly across the windscreen, the wiper motor may be unable to provide the energy needed for smooth functioning. 
  • Erratic movement: You might find that the wipers move erratically, going back and forth suddenly or becoming stuck in one position in certain circumstances. 

Addressing wiper motor problems is critical for maintaining good sight when driving in inclement weather. 

To assist you, I have put together some steps for diagnosing and repairing a faulty wiper motor:

Solutions Description
Check for Obstructions Inspect the wiper assembly for blockages or debris that may hinder wiper blade movement.

Remove any obstructions to ensure smooth wiper operation.

Listen for Motor Activity Activate the wipers and listen for humming or buzzing sounds from the wiper motor.

The absence of these sounds indicates potential motor issues.

Seek Professional Assistance Consult a mechanic or auto repair shop for diagnosis and repairs if you’re uncertain.
DIY Replacement 
  • Disconnect the vehicle’s battery for safety.
  • Locate and replace the wiper motor, ensuring compatibility with your vehicle.
  • Reattach electrical connections and test wipers for proper functioning.
  • Refer to your vehicle’s service manual for detailed instructions.

2. Lack of Wiper Fluid

Windscreen washer fluid is essential for maintaining a clear view by removing dirt, grime, bug splatters, and other pollutants from the windscreen. 

However, if you notice that your washer fluid reservoir is low when you try to use it, you have to investigate the problem immediately in order to restore its function. 

The issue is usually caused by one of two factors:

  • Empty Reservoir: The fluid level in the reservoir steadily falls as you use your windscreen washer system while washing your windscreen. 
  • Clogged Washer Nozzles: Clogged washer nozzles are a little more complicated. These nozzles are intended to spray the windscreen washer fluid in a regulated manner, however, they can get blocked with dirt, dust, or silt over time.

It is critical to address an empty washer fluid reservoir or blocked washer nozzles in order to preserve clear sight and safe driving. 

Here’s how to deal with each one:

Solutions Description
Examine for Leaks
  1. Check the washer fluid reservoir for cracks, leaks, or damage.
  2. Repair or replace the reservoir if any issues are found.
  3. Ensure proper sealing to prevent fluid leakage.
Refill the Reservoir
  1. If the reservoir is empty, refill it with suitable washer fluid.
  2. Choose a fluid compatible with prevailing weather conditions.
  3. Top up the fluid level regularly to maintain a sufficient supply.
Clear Clogged Washer Nozzles
  1. Locate and identify the washer nozzles on the vehicle.
  2. Use a pin or needle to gently clear any obstructions inside the nozzles.
  3. Avoid damaging internal hoses or losing the pin inside.
  4. Confirm proper fluid spraying onto the windshield after cleaning.
Preventative Measures Exercise caution when closing vehicle doors to prevent damage to the washer fluid reservoir.

Park the vehicle in a sheltered area to reduce exposure to environmental factors like moisture and corrosion.

Read Also: What Fluids Do Electric Cars Have? (Explained)

3. Wiper Blades Not Functioning How They Should

As we understand by now, wiper blades are critical components of your vehicle’s safety system, cleaning rain, snow, dirt, and other debris from your windscreen. 

When these blades are working properly, they give a clean and unobstructed view, which improves your capacity to drive safely, particularly during bad weather.

However, if you observe your wiper blades smearing or trembling as they move across the windscreen, this might mean that they are:

  • Torn: Tears or breaks in the rubber or synthetic material of the wiper blade can generate uneven contact with the windscreen surface, leading to streaks and smears.
  • Cracked: Exposure to the environment, UV radiation, and temperature variations can cause wiper blades to become brittle and break over time. These fissures might reduce the blades’ flexibility and efficacy.

Wiper blades, like any rubber material, deteriorate over time due to wear and tear. The degradation can cause a loss of blade contour, limiting the capacity of the blade to retain good contact with the windscreen.

It is critical for safe driving to address smearing or shuttering wiper blades. The following table summarises the proposed solutions:

Solutions Description
Replace Wiper Blades Identify your vehicle’s wiper blade type (traditional frame-style, beam-style, hybrid).

Purchase a new set of wiper blades or compatible blade refills based on your vehicle’s specifications.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or your vehicle’s owner’s manual to remove and install the new blades. Ensure they are correctly aligned and secure.

Regular Maintenance Perform routine cleaning of your windshield and wiper blades to remove dirt, grime, and residue buildup.

Periodically inspect the wiper blades for wear, tear, or damage. Address any issues promptly by replacing the blades.

4. Water Beading on the Windshield

It’s a strange sight to see water beading on your windscreen. Instead of running down the glass as it ought to, the water condenses into microscopic beads that oppose the normal functioning of your windscreen wipers. 

This problem is often caused by an accumulation of oil and grime on the windscreen surface, which wipers have no way to effectively clean.

The following conditions contribute to the development of water beads:

  • Residue Buildup: Your windscreen can acquire a thin coating of residue over time, which can contain oils, contaminants, and other impurities. This residue interferes with the even dispersion of water, resulting in beading.
  • Wiper Blade Condition: When wiper blades are worn or broken, they may not make appropriate contact with the windscreen, leaving droplets of water that form beads behind.
  • Environmental Factors: Excessive humidity or chemical exposure can aggravate residue development and lead to water beading.

Handling water beading on your windscreen is critical for preserving a good view when driving, especially in wet circumstances. 

Here are the suggested solutions to this problem:

Solutions Description
Regular Cleaning Clean your windshield regularly to remove dirt, grime, and residue buildup.

Use a windshield cleaner designed to break down oils and contaminants effectively.

Gently scrub the windshield with a microfiber cloth or soft sponge, avoiding abrasive materials.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining cleaner residue.

Check Wiper Blades Inspect wiper blades for wear, tears, or damage that may hinder proper contact with the windshield.

Replace damaged or deteriorated wiper blades with high-quality replacements compatible with your vehicle.

Use Rain-Repellent Products Consider applying a rain-repellent product specifically designed for windshields.

These products create a hydrophobic surface that encourages water to bead up and roll off the glass.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a clean and dry windshield beforehand.

Regular Maintenance Establish a routine for windshield cleaning and wiper blade inspection to prevent residue buildup.

Read Also: 9 Cars Without Rear Wipers (With Pictures)

5. Loose Wiper Arms

Wiper arms are key parts of your vehicle’s wiper system. 

They are in charge of securing the wiper blades and maintaining adequate contact with the windscreen to properly clean away water, snow, and debris. 

Yet, wiper arms can become loose for a variety of causes, including:

  • Normal Wear and Tear: The continual movement of the wiper arms causes the pivot nuts to progressively loosen over time. This is a frequent occurrence due to normal wear and tear.
  • Force or Impact: Strong impacts, such as hitting a frozen windscreen or an obstruction, can rattle the wiper arms and lead them to become loose.
  • Vibration: Driving vibrations, particularly on bumpy or uneven roads, can lead to the loosening of wiper arms.

Loose pivot nuts are usually the cause of your wiper arms being loose and not making strong contact with the windscreen. 

These nuts hold the wiper arms to the wiper motor and the functioning mechanism in place. During severe weather, a loose wiper arm can result in poor wiper movement and limited visibility.

Here are several solutions to examine to remedy this issue:

Solutions Description
Tighten Pivot Nuts: Locate the pivot nuts at the base of the loose wiper arms.

Use an appropriately sized socket wrench to tighten the pivot nuts.

Avoid overtightening, which can damage the wiper arms or motor. Ensure firm contact with the windshield.

Preventative Maintenance Regularly check the tightness of pivot nuts on wiper arms, especially after significant impacts or when looseness is noticed.

Consider using a thread-locking adhesive during reinstallation to prevent future loosening.

Professional Assistance If unsure or lacking tools, consult a professional mechanic or auto repair shop to inspect and tighten wiper arms.


5 Common Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

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