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Why Your Windshield Wipers Aren’t Working

windshield wipers not workingWith the dry climate here in Arizona, you probably don’t think much about your windshield wipers, unless of course, you need to use them. The fact is, windshield wipers are critical to your safety on the road. Driving without functional windshield wipers during a rainstorm could be similar to driving with your eyes closed. Very dangerous and definitely not recommended. Now is a great time of year to test your windshield wipers to ensure they are working properly before the winter weather comes in. 

If your windshield wipers don’t work, there may be a few things that need to be checked. Some minor repairs or adjustments you may be able to do yourself, while others you may want to leave to the pros. 

Reasons Windshield Wipers Won’t Work:

  1. Icy conditions. You’re not likely to have heavy, wet heaps of snow on your windshield, but if you’re visiting where this kind of weather is prevalent, or there’s a frosty morning where ice has formed on your windshield, be sure to clear your windshield of any debris before using your wipers. Cold weather can have an effect on wipers that may cause bent blades, skipping wiper arms, or damaged wiper motor. If you plan on spending a prolonged amount of time in snowy climates, consider investing in winter wiper blades.
  2. Worn or torn wiper blades. The rubber area on your windshield wipers known as the wiper blades, greatly affects how your wipers operate. Torn rubber on the blades are unable to make sufficient contact with the windshield, preventing your wipers from clearing away any moisture or debris. In fact, damaged wiper blades can even leave tiny scratches or grooves in the glass.
  3. Bad fuse. Any time an electrical component in your vehicle is overloaded, the fuse used to operate the device can burn out. Likewise, when the windshield wiper motor is strained, the fuse will burn out. While inconvenient, it’s actually a good thing. The fuse is designed to be a weaker part of the circuit to prevent burning out the wiper motor, a more costly repair. If your fuse has burned out, search for any obstructions that may be responsible for overloading the circuit and clear them out of the way before replacing.
  4. Pivot nuts. Wiper arms are attached to the wiper transmission with a nut on a pivot. At times the nuts become loose and must be tightened down. You may notice that the wiper motor turns the pivot, but the arm fails to move or moves only slightly but does not clear the windshield or only one wiper will work, while the other is motionless. A technician will be able to replace the pivot nut to restore function once again.
  5. Failed wiper motor. As with any electrical component on a vehicle, they are susceptible to shorting out or failure requiring replacement. If this occurs, you’ll need to replace the motor and soon. Your windshield wipers cannot function without the motor, meaning you won’t have a way to clear your windshield should you get caught in a storm. Since this is a repair related to electrical functions, it’s best left for the professionals to repair.

Take Care of Your Windshield Wipers

Even if used seldomly, windshield wipers should be replaced every six months. The hot, dry weather takes a toll on unused windshield wipers just as regular use would in the rain. In Arizona, consider replacing them in the fall and spring to prepare for the harsher, upcoming seasons of winter and summer. While not all windshield wiper failures are preventable, there are some things you can do to maintain your wipers so that you’ll be ready for the next sudden downpour. 

  1. Defrost windshield before using wipers. As tempting as it may be to wipe that ice right off the windshield on those very cold mornings, it’s best to run the defroster and once the ice melts and begins to puddle, clear away with the wipers.
  2. Watch for wear. Wiper blades are designed to only last for a short period of time. If you identify signs of early wear such as skipping, squeaking or smudges on the glass when in use, replace them right away. 
  3. Clean your windshield. Wipers that have to wipe dirt and other bits of debris along with moisture are going to wear much quicker. To prolong their life, clean your windshield often. 
  4. Do not use wipers on a dry windshield. Windshield wipers are designed to clear moisture. Operating them on dry glass can cause them to wear out faster than with normal use. To clear a dirty windshield, use the washer button to wipe away any filth. 

Ensure your wiper fluid reservoir is full. When checking other fluid levels, don’t forget to check the wiper fluid and top it off as needed.