Windshield wipers love to fail during the worst of times, such as when you’re 20 minutes late for work and it’s raining heavily. So, what causes windshield wipers to stop working all of a sudden?
Windshield wipers can stop working after snow if a fuse is blown, the wiper arms or assembly is loose, or the wiper motor or pulse board stops working. You can identify and fix the issue by checking your fuses, making sure all nuts are tight, and that nothing is broken in the assembly.
The rest of this article will go over the most common reasons windshield wipers stop working after snow and how to fix them.
There are several common reasons that cause windshield wipers to stop working, such as:
Like any other electrical component in your vehicle, a blown fuse is often behind the issue. A fuse is designed to blow when there is an electrical overload on the circuit. In simpler terms, the fuse blew because the wiper motor was overloaded to protect it from permanent damage.
And the motor was overloaded because snow is very heavy and difficult for the motor to move.
One of the more common reasons wipers stop working after snow is loose wiper arms.
If your wipers had to work hard to remove snow from your windshield, this could’ve caused the nuts that hold the wiper arms together to loosen up. You can tell this has happened if you hear the motor rotating, but the wipers won’t budge or move very little. It’s also possible that something is wrong with the linkage assembly.
If the motor link arm is loose, you might hear a crunching noise coming from under the hood.
If you weren’t as lucky and your fuse didn’t blow, then it’s possible that your whole wiper motor is blown or broken. The cogwheels inside the wiper motor are relatively thin and delicate.
If there was heavy snow the last time you used the wipers, the motor might have worn down completely.
If you hear the wiper motor starting up and an ominous screeching noise, but the wipers aren’t working, then it’s likely a blown motor.
The pulse board is just as likely to stop working for the abovementioned reasons. All it takes for a pulse board to fail is for a solder joint to loosen or for water to enter the assembly and short-circuit the board. You can tell that your pulse board is at fault if the motor works in short bursts.
How to Fix Your Windshield Wipers After Snow
Thankfully, the solution is often something that you can do yourself quite easily. Here are a few solutions that will get your wipers wiping again.
Let’s start with the cheapest and easiest solution. If you don’t know where your fuse box is, it’s usually under your or the passenger’s dashboard or under the hood. Less often, it’s under the backseats or in the trunk.
If you can find a schematic of your car’s fuse box, then identifying the wiper’s fuses will be pretty easy. Otherwise, you can use a test light as shown in this video:
If you don’t have a test light either, simply take out the fuses one by one and inspect them using your phone’s flashlight. If the wire inside is broken, then that fuse is blown and needs to be replaced. While you’re at it, you might as well inspect all of your car’s fuses and replace the blown ones.
As a side note, the colors usually indicate the ampere rating, and there are different sizes, so make sure to get the same type.
The wiper and link arms can be found underneath the wipers. You’ll have to pop your hood open for this. First, make sure the pivot nut that holds the wipers is tight. This is easily accessible on most cars. It’s the large nut that connects the arms to the wiper transmission. If tightening the nut doesn’t work, you’ll have to open up the whole wiper assembly.
Depending on your car, this can be very difficult to access and can involve a whole lot of disassembly.
Once you get to the wiper transmission, make sure that all nuts that hold the transmission together are tight.
At this stage, you can also turn the wipers on to see if the motor is working. If the wiper link rod is detached from the motor, try to reattach it. There’s a good chance that the balljoint is broken, though, which means that you’ll either have to replace the balljoint or the whole assembly.
Some cars use plastic inserts between the spindle and arm. If you can find those replacement parts, then you’re in luck. Unfortunately, more often than not, you’ll have to replace the whole wiper assembly to get it working again.
If the whole wiper transmission assembly looks good and nothing is broken or stripped, then it’s probably the wiper motor. If it had to work under a lot of strain from the heavy snow the day before, your best bet is to replace the whole motor. You could try to disassemble it and only replace the broken parts.
Common points of failure are the connecting rod, spindle, and gears. If the gears are made of plastic, they have likely worn down from all the strain from moving snow. You can check out this video to see how you can fix the gear yourself:
Alternatively, replace the entire wiper motor. Just make sure to get a model that fits your car.
If the motor still isn’t working, or if it’s working incorrectly, then something is wrong with the pulse board. The pulse board controls how long and fast the wipers move. The best solution is to replace the whole pulse board.
Again, make sure you get the model that fits your car. Simply disconnect the old one, plug in the new module, and you’re good to go.
Hopefully, your windshield wipers are happily cleaning snow away from your windshield now. If you can’t identify what the issue is even after disassembling everything, contact your local car mechanic. Thankfully, this is usually a cheap fix.
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