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How Much Does a Windshield Wiper Motor Cost? Warning Signs & Reasons

close up hands holding windshield wiper

Windshield wipers have a simple and fairly basic function, they keep your windshields clean of debris and precipitation. Complete visibility is needed whether you’re driving in an urban area or on a rural highway and things such as dead bugs, falling leaves, and heavy rain can be hazardous while you’re on the road.

Windshield wipers run on a powered motor and if you have an older vehicle, you may find yourself having to replace this motor at some point during your vehicle’s ownership. But how much does a windshield wiper motor cost? Most motors cost anywhere from $35-$50. We’ll answer more questions as well as cover some common faulty motor and windshield wiper symptoms to look out for.

car and road divider

What’s the Price of Replacing a Windshield Wiper Motor?

You can expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $300 for a windshield wiper motor replacement (most of this cost is labor-related). To access the motor, the wiper blades, cowl panel, and other nearby parts must be removed. This disassembly process may be a bit too complicated and laborious for your average DIYer, thus the pricey replacement cost.

However, before you set out to replace the wiper motor, be sure that this is the issue with the wipers, as other problems can be preventing them from functioning normally. For example, a blown fuse can cause the wipers to suddenly stop working. You can replace this yourself within a matter of minutes, and it’ll only cost a fraction of the price to do so.

Flat Blade Windshield Wipers
Image Credit: New-Africa, shutterstock

Signs of a Faulty Windshield Wiper Bad Motor

If your vehicle is 10 years old or older, you may experience issues with the windshield wiper motor. Here are the most common symptoms you’ll experience when the motor starts to go out.

The Wiper Simply Doesn’t Move

If you’ve turned on your windshield wipers and they suddenly don’t move and you don’t hear any noise coming from the motor, chances are that the motor is malfunctioning. It may be hard to hear the motor during times of heavy precipitation or if you have a loud vehicle.

If possible, try to pull over to a safe location where you can try to listen closely to see if the motor initiates when you turn the wipers on. Also, if the weather conditions are bad, such as with freezing ice, be sure that the wipers aren’t simply stuck to the windshield, which can also occur in freezing temperatures.

Sometimes the wiper issue may be due to a blown fuse and not the motor itself. If you’re able to, consider stopping by your local auto shop to purchase a new fuse and try to replace it on your own. If not, you can go to a mechanic and have them diagnose the issue and either replace the motor or the fuse for you.

close up windshield wipers
Image Credit: Dibjo, Pixabay

The Wiper Blades Are Starting to Move Slower Than the Setting

Windshield wipers operate on an adjustable relay system that allows you to alter their speed according to your driving conditions. This means that you can set different delivery times and multiple speeds with a quick flip of a switch. However, if you notice that the blades are not operating as fast as they should when you increase the speed, it could be a problem with your motor.

Sometimes, the components inside the motor can become clogged with dirt, debris, and other particles that are pulled in from the road. If it happens it can cause the motor to malfunction, affecting the speed, and the ability of the wipers to respond to the relay settings.

Taking your car to a licensed mechanic who can diagnose this issue is the best way to determine if the motor is the cause. If so, that mechanic can clean around it or replace it as needed.

The Wiper Blades Stop In The Wrong Position

Another common symptom of malfunctioning wiper motors is when the wiper blades fail to stop in the “parked” position on the windshield. This means that when you turn the windshield wipers off, they stop at the top or middle of the windshield, instead of at the bottom where they are out of view.

In some cases, you may need to turn them on and off a few times just to get them out of view–something that can be very annoying. Chances are, there are issues with the motor, and in many cases, this will happen when the motor is on its last leg.

car and road divider

Other Common Reasons Windshield Wipers May Malfunction

In addition to a malfunctioning motor, there can also be issues with other components related to the windshield wipers. Here are the most common reasons why your windshield wipers may malfunction and the steps to take when they do.

man cleaning windshield wiper with microfiber cloth
Image Credit: admin_design, Shutterstock

The Rubber Is Torn

Unfortunately, all windshield wiper blades are not created equal. Some blades cost more than others, and they’ll typically last longer than other brands. If you notice flaps of rubber coming off of the blades or they simply aren’t moving smoothly across the windshield or don’t remove any debris/dirt, chances are that they just need to be replaced.

Be sure to do this as soon as possible as it will impair your visibility, which makes for hazardous driving conditions. You can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $40 for a good quality set of windshield wipers.

Severe Weather or Conditions

It’s easy to underestimate the capability of windshield wipers, especially when you’re trucking through periods of heavy snow. But it’s important to know that windshield wiper blades aren’t designed to remove huge chunks of frozen ice from the windshield.

So be sure to use a shovel to get rid of as much ice as possible and that the windshields have the ability to move freely before turning them on. Failure to do so can cause your windshield wipers to become damaged and the rubber blades or arms may break.

You can also purchase sturdier windshield wipers, which’ll be helpful if you live in an area prone to heavy snow in the winter. And don’t forget that you can always turn on the defrost or pour warm water over the bottom of the windshield to remove ice if the blades are stuck in place.

Conventional windshield wiper_CharlesLoyer_Unsplash
Image Credit: Charles Loyer, Unsplash

The Windshield Wiper Pivot Nuts Need Tightening

The windshield wiper blades are attached to the wiper transmission by way of a pivot nut. When the nut becomes loose, the motor will still continue to turn the pivot, but the wiper blade will stay still. And in some cases, you may notice that only one blade will operate.

In either case, expect the pivot nuts to see if they are completely tightened. If not, use a wrench to give them a turn or two. Keep in mind that if you have an older vehicle or one that has blades that haven’t been replaced in a while, the pivot nut may be a bit rusty and difficult to tighten. If it is, consider applying a bit of WD-40 before attempting to tighten or remove it.

The Wipers Aren’t Attached Properly

Sometimes the issue is simply a matter of the wipers not being installed properly. This is common with DIY installers and luckily is relatively easy to fix. If the wipers aren’t installed securely, they can become loose, resulting in immobility and the inability to clean the windshield thoroughly.

The most obvious sign of this issue is when the wiper arms float freely around the windshield and wobble during operation. If the wiper is still viable, you can simply remove it and reinstall it correctly or have a mechanic do this for you. If not, and it’s damaged, it’s best to have it replaced by a professional mechanic. AutoZone associates will even perform the service free of charge for you.

car and road divider Wrapping Things Up

To sum things up, replacing your windshield wiper motor isn’t the most expensive fix, but it’s expensive enough to have the issue properly diagnosed before assuming that it needs to be replaced. Sometimes the issue can be with the wipers themselves or with the motor fuse, which is relatively inexpensive to replace. If you have a newer vehicle, however, you’re unlikely to run into this issue. But if you do, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $300 to have it repaired.

Featured Image Credit: Dmitriy Os Ivanov, Shutterstock


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