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Why Are My Windshield Wipers Not Working? 5 Possible Reasons

man holding windshield wipers

Windshield wipers are important for safety, and it can be scary when they don’t turn on when you need them, especially if you are on the highway. You also need workable windshield wipers to pass your vehicle inspection. If you have noticed that your windshield wipers aren’t working and would like to find out the cause, keep reading as we list several factors that could be behind it.

car and road divider

Things You Should Know About Windshield Wipers

How Do They Work?

Your windshield wipers use a small electric motor, not that much different from the one in a standard house fan to control the wipers. The motor pulls levers that work with a pulley to pull the wipers across your window and then change direction repeatedly to keep your windows clear of water and snow.

What Are the Different Types of Windshield Wipers?

red car with a windshield wiper
Image By: max tokarev, Unsplash

There are many different types of windshield wipers, and you will need to look up your vehicle’s model number to find the right ones. Many vehicles also have a wiper on the rear window, which may require replacing from time to time.

Where Are They Used?

Windshield wipers are on all road-worthy vehicles, and the law states that they must operate correctly at the time of the vehicle’s inspection. It’s also common to find wipers on other types of vehicles, like construction vehicles and airplanes.

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The 5 Reasons Why Your Windshield Wipers Aren’t Working?

1. Blades Are Worn

Standard Blade Windshield Wipers
Image Credit: charles-loyer, Unsplash

If the wipers are operating as they should but are not removing the water or snow on either side of your windshield, you likely have worn blades. The wiper blades are primarily rubber or another flexible material, and high temperatures, UV rays, constant friction, and ice can wear them down quickly and make them less effective. How fast your blades wear will depend on your environment and how often you drive, but most will last 2 or 3 years before you need to replace them.

2. The Wipers Are Frozen

If the weather is cold, your windshield wipers can freeze to the window, which will prevent them from moving and may trick you into believing that they are broken. If you notice that they are not working when you switch them on, shut them off immediately, and check the area of your windshield where they are at rest. If you notice any ice, carefully remove it to free up the blades. Try not to use too much force, as it could tear the rubber blade, making them less effective. After the blades are free from the ice, try them again to see if they are working correctly.

3. Blades Are Not Installed Properly

Beam Blade Windshield wiper
Image Credit: noPPonPat, Shutterstock

If you change the blades but don’t install them correctly, they may not keep your window clean, and they may also fall off the car while you are driving, causing a dangerous situation. If you change the blades, read the instructions carefully so there aren’t any problems, or let a qualified mechanic replace them.

4. The Motor Stopped Working

One common reason windshield wipers stop working is that the motor that powers them has worn out. While many electric motors can last many years without a problem, they sometimes fail. If you turn on your wipers and the blades remain still and you hear no sound, there is a good chance that the motor is the problem, and you will need to replace it. While some people might be able to repair it themselves after finding the parts, it’s usually easier to have it serviced by a qualified technician.

5.    Fasteners Came Loose

The windshield wiper mechanism is a fairly complex system of bars connected with fasteners. These fasteners can work loose after many years of operation and cause the wipers to stop operating correctly. Fortunately, a qualified technician can add new fasteners quickly and inexpensively to have your car working like new. You will usually know that it’s the fasteners when the wipers aren’t moving correctly, but you still hear sounds while you have them on.

car and road divider

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Do I Need to Replace My Windshield Wipers?

Hybrid Blade Windshield Wipers
Image Credit: Stason4ik, Shutterstock

You will need to replace the wiper blades when you notice that they are not as effective as they were when new. You will usually notice streaks on the windshield or areas that don’t get clean, signifying where the blade is worn.

How Do I Know What Kind of Windshield Wipers I Need?

The best way to find out what type of windshield wipers you need is to look in your owner’s manual, which should have it listed. If you don’t have your owner’s manual, you can ask your mechanic or visit a local auto parts store, where they can look it up on a computer for you.

How Can I Help My Wipers Last Longer?

close up windshield wipers
Image Credit: Dibjo, Pixabay

One good tip for helping your wipers last longer is to stand them up when you are expecting a storm and not driving. You can usually lift the wipers out of the well, which will prevent the blades from freezing to the window when the storm comes. Even if the wipers operate when you turn them on, small pieces of rubber might get torn off, making the blades less effective.

A Quick Reference Guide

Possible Problem How to Fix
Worn blades Replace with new blades
Incorrectly installed blades Reinstall blades
Frozen blades Carefully break away the ice
Broken motor Replace component
Broken fasteners Replace fasteners

car and road divider Conclusion

The most common problem people have with windshield wipers is that the blades wear out and stop removing the water and snow from the windshield like they should, making it difficult to see where you are going. Another common problem is that the wipers can freeze in the well, especially if you stop driving mid-storm, which can stop them from working or damage them, making them less effective. In some cases, the fasteners holding the wiping system can come loose or the motor can stop working completely, requiring help from a technician.

Featured Image Credit: admin_design, Shutterstock


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