Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Windshield Wiper Switch
Common signs include windshield wipers not turning on or off, not changing speed or settings, and the turn signals not working.
One of the most important safety devices on any car, truck, or SUV is a properly functioning windshield wiper system. Having quick and easy access to a clean windshield is imperative, especially during rain or snow storms when visibility is difficult. There are several components that comprise the windshield wiper system, but they are all activated with a simple flip of a windshield wiper switch.
Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the windshield wiper switch will be located on either the turn signal indicator or a separate indicator level that is near your steering wheel. On the switch will be several options for the wiper speed, duration, and a switch for applying windshield washer fluid onto your windshield to help remove dirt, debris, bugs and other "stuff" so you have clear visibility. Most switches are very durable, however, from time to time, they can wear out through constant use or due to electrical gremlins.
When a windshield wiper switch begins to fail, there are often a few warnings signs that will alert you that a potential problem exists. If you recognize any of the symptoms listed below, make sure to contact a local mechanic as soon as possible, so they may inspect the problem, correctly diagnose what's damaged, and replace the right parts.
1. Windshield wipers won't turn on or off
When you turn the windshield wiper switch on, the wipers are supposed to move from drivers left to right in a curved pattern. However, sometimes you'll flip the switch and nothing happens. This can be caused by a malfunctioning switch, a bad wiper module, broken wiper motor, stripped wiper motor linkage, or damaged wiper arm. Because there are multiple components that might be causing this problem, it's a great idea to contact a mechanic that has experience working on windshield wipers that can arrive to your home or office to properly diagnose the precise issue and fix it for you.
2. Windshield wipers do not change speed or settings
As indicated above, one of the options of the windshield wiper switch is a setting for faster wipers or to set them to come on at a determined interval. The interval setting is commonly used during light rain showers or sprinkles and in some cases during dust storms. However, if you select a unique setting on the wiper switch and the wiper blades do not follow your input, this might indicate a problem with the wiper switch.
However, as indicated before, it might also be caused by a malfunctioning module, motor or linkage, so it's best to contact a professional mechanic to inspect the switch to verify that is what needs to be replaced.
3. Turn signals not working
On most cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the United States, the windshield washer switch is on the turn signal indicator. This set-up helps drivers stay safer while driving as there are fewer manual controls to operate while driving the vehicle. Since both turn signals and wiper blades operate through the same device, it is possible that issues with the turn signal will also impact the wiper blade switch. Most of the time if the switch is broken the adjoining system will also show signs or failure. If you notice that your turn signals do not activate when you turn them on, it's highly likely that your windshield wipers will also be inactive.
This could be caused by a fuse that has burnt out, or another electrical failure. However, having operational turn signals and wiper blades is required by all US States.
Issues with the windshield wiper switch are incredibly rare. Most of the time, damage done to this device is either caused by a vehicle accident or trauma to the switch due to human error. If you notice any of these warning signs, make sure you contact a local ASE certified mechanic as soon as possible. Properly functioning windshield wiper blades is not a luxury like air conditioning or the stereo. It's vital to your safety and that of all motorists and pedestrians that travel the roads.
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Wipers should be checked and cleaned every time you stop to fill your tank up. Since wiper blades are subject to all sorts of dirt and debris, you should clean the blades regularly (https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/top-5-ways-to-make-your-car-wipers-last-longer) when cleaning your windshield to protect...
Hello there, thank you for asking about your 1994 Suzuki Samurai. If these accessories share a common ground, some corrosion may be connecting circuits that should not touch. You will want to hire the services of a technician experienced in...
Hello, thank you for writing in. The vehicle may be having issues with the wiper motors, or the switch. There will need to be some electrical testing done on the vehicle to properly determine which component is responsible for the...
Square body wiper systems SUCK! Can it be fixed?
first I did a quick autozone search for 19787 k20 wiper...
Notes: Conventional design
Fits driver side or passenger side. 16" wiper blade
my truck has been in my possession since 1988 and I have done so many body swaps, front clips, etc.. I have no clue what I have.. BUT..
my wiper has always sucked. Sucked when I had my 78 cab.. sucked when I had my 8something cab and still suck with my current 82 c10 cab...
what is really interesting is reading all 4 pages and seeing pics.. like the one back a page. The motor shows a connector up top, down low and bottom. Then yous guys are talking about park ground, high low ground etc...
I put a 1991 fullsize Jimmy column in my truck (when I took the hydro clutch stuff as well) and now I have high beams and wipers on column. In addition to high/low on column. I have always had high/low and squirters when you pushed that old slide switch in...
Now I think about it.. I think have delay wipers and am going to have to check tonight.
(re-editing.. no I believe the wipers on column gave me "Mist" not delay..)
I do know that if my windshield is DRY, the wipers barely and I mean barely move.... if they are wet.. they kinda go so I agree with everyone that it would be nice to have them like todays trucks.
I will go and grease up my knobbs..errrr. I mean pivot points, etc.. as well... hah..
I just got my truck adjusted by a guy that came over last night and she is running great. next is fix my steering wandering issue (I know what it is as I need a new gearbox)... then this summer I want to get my wipers going better as I too have mud issues...
here is my wiper motor and I only have 2 plugs..
large pic ==> http://www.supermotors.net/registry/media/219646_1
I couldn't see well due to the mud I was roosting 20ft in the air.. LOL... man was it pouring mud...
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Monticello, KY
Windshield Wiper problems
Hey guys, its been a while but I finally have time to cruise the forums again.
I have been having a issue with my wipers. BTW I have read most all of the forums about wiper problems, without much luck fixing mine. So any help you can give would be appreciated.
Here is the deal...
I have a 1987 chevy C-20 crew cab truck that I have been working on for about three years. I have started driving it lately. It is a blast. However, I have been experiencing problems with my wipers.
The wiring harness for my truck is out of a 1990 chevy suburban. The suburban was loaded up at the factory. PW, PDL, Tilt, Cruise, etc....
I used the wiring harness, PW, PDL, steering column, fuse block, wiper motor and cruise control components from the suburban on my 87 truck body. So far everything works great except the cruise and wipers. I will get to the cruise later.
The wipers will only work when the switch is turn to "HIGH" the fastest setting. They will not work on "LOW" or delay. Also, the wipers stop where they are when I turn the switch to off.
As I read in other posts on this site, I tried changing the motor. Didn't work.
I tested my current motor start from the battery, it has high and low speed.
I have a couple of motors here that look just like the original, I tried them too.
I changed the intermittent control module under the steering column (Looks like a small stereo amp) Didn't work.
I also removed the int. control module and plug the harness' straight, still didn't fix the problem.
I tried using a different steering column from another old truck I have, it is also a tilt column, with delay wipers. Still no luck. However I just laid the other steering column in the floor and hooked directly to the existing wiring harness. I didn't "Ground" the new column.
Please help. I don't want to throw a pile of money at this problem, if there may be a simple or inexpensive fix for it.
A 1985 Chevy K30’s Wiper Motor Fail and the Creative Fix During Ultimate Adventure
Stephen Watson’s story about MacGyver-ing the windshield wipers of his 4x4 during Ultimate Adventure.
In a recent Firing Order column, Four Wheeler magazine editor Ken Brubaker asked, "Have you ever had a minor off-road problem that escalated?" Well, we've received some interesting responses to that question, including this one from Stephen Watson, owner of Offroad Design.
Stephen tells a story about when a good windshield wiper motor went bad, and it happened to his 1985 Chevy K30 during the 2015 Ultimate Adventure. Anyone who has ever had a windshield wiper system failure knows that the seemingly insignificant system performs a significant job. (We've actually had to leave a 4x4 on the side of the highway overnight during a massive rainstorm, not because of a transfer case, driveshaft, or other driveline problem, but because the wiper motor failed and we couldn't see the road.) For Stephen, quick thinking and ingenuity on a rainy day solved the problem, and you can read all about it in Stephen's own words, below. And check out the video he submitted showing the fix in action!
When Good Wiper Motors Go Bad
Stephen says, "Here's a bad-to-worse to kind-of-fixed and acceptance of our lot in life kind of story for you. Our build of our convertible 1985 Chevy K30 was supposed to be ready for Ultimate Adventure (UA) 2014, and after some setbacks it didn't make that trip, and in fact barely made the 2015 trip, which makes me wonder what we were thinking when we thought it would be ready in 2014. But anyway, the trip was to start on the Ohio-West Virginia state line, and we ended up running a total of about a day late. Check-in day was Saturday, and late that afternoon (and still many hours from check-in) we parked our tow rig at the Hi Lift plant in Indiana and started the trek in the trail rig across the rest of Indiana and all of Ohio to get to the start of UA. After it gets dark on us in eastern Ohio, we start getting some sprinkles of rain, so I reach over and turn on the windshield wipers. They go back and forth about two times and hang up mid stroke. The wiper motor was brand new; it had literally been bolted in a few days before we left on the trip, and here it is already messing up. We cycled the switch a couple times and still get no action. We don't want to stop for anything at this point since we're already late, short on sleep, and haven't checked in for the event and we know we have to be up early to get ready for the first trail day but it starts actually raining. We push on, hoping the rain would bead up and we'd be able see enough to stay on the highway, but no dice. Visibility got so bad, we had no choice but to pull over and deal with it. At this point I'm not sure what we're going to do, but I'm pretty sure it's going to involve a lot of time and maybe missing the first trail day altogether."
Creative Paracord Solution
"This is why we have good partners/co-drivers on the trip. My dad must have had his plan hatched before we even pulled over. First step, he grabbed the wiper arms and gave them a good rip side to side a few times to strip the gears in the motor out completely. That seemed to serve two purposes: violent emotional release against the stupid cause of our problem and letting the wipers move freely. Second step, he whips out some trusty paracord and runs it through the upper rollcage gusset/handle on the driver-side A-pillar of the rollcage, around the windshield A-pillar, and knots one end to the driver-side wiper arm. The other end of the cord goes across the interior and out the passenger window to be tied to the passenger-side wiper arm. Pull the cord loop one way, and the wiper arms go up, pull the other way, and the wiper arms go down, and in the process we have a clear windshield. And the co-driver has something to do with his spare time. We were rolling down the highway in less than five minutes."
Manual Wipers for the Win
"In the end we made it to the hotel with a few hours to sleep, wheeled the next day with no issues, and bought a new wiper motor the next evening. We decided to sleep that night rather than spend the time to replace the motor, and in true UA fashion, we didn't have a chance to work on the motor for another couple days so we dealt with the daily rainstorms (one bad enough to have a tornado warning along with it) using our manual wipers. We typically trade off driving duties so one guy can rest from driving. For that few days, we traded off so one guy could rest from running the darn windshield wipers!"
Calm Thinking Is Key
"I really try to emphasize spending just a little bit of time doing some calm thinking when stuff starts going sideways to stop that momentum. 'Let's make some good decisions so this doesn't get any worse. '"
Have you ever had a minor off-road (or on-road) problem that escalated, where you had to call on your creativity to solve the problem? Email [email protected] and tell Ken about it!
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