Keeping your windshield clear is paramount to a safe driving experience. If you don’t have a clear view of the road ahead of you, it's more difficult to avoid an accident, an object on the road, or a defect in the road surface such as a pothole.

In order to keep your windshield clear, your windshield wipers need to operate properly. At times it may seem like your windshield wipers aren’t working as they should, or they may stop working altogether. There are several reasons why your windshield wipers aren’t working.

Here are the top 5 reasons your wipers aren’t working:

  1. Your wiper blades are torn. The condition of your wiper blades is directly related to how well your windshield wipers work. If the rubber edges on your wiper blades are torn, the wiper will not make proper contact with the windshield to clear moisture or debris away. The small gap left by the missing rubber can actually trap additional dirt that may scratch or gouge your windshield glass. Replace torn wiper blades immediately so your visibility isn't compromised.

  2. The windshield wipers have ice or snow on them. Windshield wipers are able to remove small amounts of snow from your windshield, but heavy, wet snow needs to be cleared by a snow brush before operating your wipers. Wet snow can be so heavy on your wipers that your blades can get bent, the wiper arms can skip or strip at the pivots, and the wiper motor or transmission can get damaged. Remove heavy snow from your windshield before using your wiper blades. If you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, like Spokane, Washington, or Salt Lake City, Utah, you may want to invest in winter wiper blades.

  3. The wiper motor has failed. The windshield wiper motor is an electrical motor. As an electrical component, it can short out or quit unexpectedly and require replacement. If that happens, your windshield wipers will not work at all and you won’t be able to clear any water, dirt, or snow that ends up on your windshield. Replace the windshield wiper motor right away.

  4. The windshield wiper fuse is burnt out. When the windshield wiper motor is overloaded, the associated fuse burns out. The fuse is designed to be a weak spot in the windshield wiper circuit. That way, if the motor is overloaded for any reason, the fuse will burn out first, instead of the more expensive wiper motor. If the wiper motor fuse burns out, check for any obstructions that may cause the motor to be overloaded. Heavy snow on the wiper blades or a wiper blade or arm caught on something or snagged together can cause the fuse to blow. Clear the obstruction and replace the fuse. If it still doesn’t work, have it looked at by a professional from YourMechanic.

  5. Wiper pivot nuts are loose. The wiper arms are connected to the wiper transmission by a nut on a pivot. The pivots are usually splined with a stud protruding. The wiper arms are splined as well and have a hole through the base. A nut tightens onto the pivot stud to hold the wiper arm tightly to the pivot. If the nut is a little loose - which is common - the wiper motor will turn the pivot but the wiper arm will not move. You may see it slightly move when the wiper direction changes, but it does not wipe the windshield. You may notice only one wiper working while the other stays at the bottom. If you have this issue, make sure the wiper pivot nuts are tight. Otherwise, have a professional mechanic from YourMechanic check your wipers and repair them.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Top 5 Reasons Your Windshield Wipers Aren't Working and was authored by Jason Unrau.


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