Something as simple as the windshield wiper, that so many of us take for granted throughout most of the year, can become a vital component to our safety when a storm rolls in.
Without windshield wipers we wouldn’t be able to drive when it rained! It’s impossible to see out of the windshield properly when sheets of water are flowing down the windshield.
All the years of taking the windshield wipers for granted then one rainy afternoon:
- The windshield wipers won’t activate when you turn the windshield wiper switch.
- The windshield wipers turn on, but won’t shut off!
- The windshield wipers will only work on one setting (IE: High only, medium only or slow only).
- The windshield wipers only swipe randomly.
- You must work the windshield wiper switch manually to make them swipe.
Any one of those scenario’s is frustrating and dangerous. These are all characteristic of the windshield wiper motor that has gone out. Fortunately the motor is not difficult to replace. It is a time consuming accessing and removing the motor, but easy enough for the backyard mechanic.Windshield Wiper Motors
Below is the windshield wiper motor we are looking for. It’s under the hood and attached to the firewall in front of the driver side. There is an armature that passes through the wall behind the wiper motor that the wiper arms are attached to. To remove this motor the wiper arms need to be removed first.
In order to remove the wiper arms we will have to remove a tab at the base of the armature where it attaches to the cog stud.
Slide a screwdriver in between the tab and the wiper arm and this piece can be popped off. There will be a small washer piece with two holes in it that will drop out as soon as the tab is removed. Have your hand ready to catch it.
Once this tab is removed the windshield wiper arm can be slid off it’s cog stud. I used a large screwdriver and leveraged the arm off the stud with wiggling and leveraging. Set the armature aside where it won’t be stepped on or broken.
Now we are going to need to remove the grill at the bottom of the windshield. There are “wing” inserts at each end of the grill that must be removed first with a Phillips head. Then, there are screws within the grills (3 or 4 screws).
You’re going to need the hood open from now on to get this piece out. Lifting and lowering the hood as needed.
On the underside of the hood, immediately in front of the grill, is a length of rubber. Simply lift and pull and it comes off the lip it’s attached to. Underneath the rubber are another row of 3 or 4 screws to be removed.
The windshield washer fluid hoses are attached to the underside of this grill. Pay attention when lifting it out so you can detach the hose.
Once we have removed the two wing grills, the grill screws, the rubber piece and the screws below it, and detached the wiper fluid hose, we can carefully remove the grill as one unit. Be sure to pull up on the grill so it will clear the armature studs. Set it aside in a safe place.
Inside the grill area you will find the extension from the windshield wiper motor into the grill area as seen below. The nuts just need to be loosened enough to get the ball out. The second one just needs to be able to slide over the ball. Set them down right where they are.
Now we will be under the hood to remove the windshield wiper motor. First, unplug the wire attachment. Lift the locking tab before pulling the plug out.
Remove the three ten millimeter bolts, highlighted in red below, holding the windshield wiper motor to the firewall and remove the motor by shifting it as necessary to allow the activation armature to come through the hole.
And there you have it! You have two choices here to fix the windshield wiper motor. You can open up the rectangle box on the left that contains the control board and purchase a new board to insert (This will save you a few bucks) or you can purchase a whole new unit. Below you can see what you can save by purchasing the pulse board or the whole unit. It is a significant difference!
For myself, when I opened the rectangle box I found that one of the wires had fried. So, I soldered a wire across to bridge the gap. It worked fine for about a year!
The windshield wipers worked great until we used the truck for a moving job. The truck had to climb a long, steep, hill two times a day for three weeks. Over heating was inevitable with the huge load it was hauling. The continual overheating was like placing a soldering iron in the wiper motor everyday. The blades would become so hot that they melted the solder around them.
At this point I had an old truck that I took the motor out of and replaced this motor with it and the wipers have been working fine.
The installation is the same as the removal. Line up the windshield wiper arms as close to the position they were in when you first removed them. There is a notch inside the wiper arm that attaches to the cog to help line up the wiper arms.