Windshield Wipers Not Working: Possible Causes and Solutions

Windshield wipers not working is a problem reported by many car owners. The problem is more common in areas with prolonged rainfall or snowfall because the wiper drive motor exhausts after continuously working.

Windshield Wipers Not Working

However, damaged rubber blades or pulse boards can also cause wiper failure. This blog post talks about these and other reasons behind the wiper problem and recommends methods to fix them.

Why Are the Windshield Wipers Not Working in the Car?

The windshield wipers are not working in the car because the wiper blades or arms are inoperative. A blown fuse or faulty wiper switch can also cause a non-functioning wiper. Moreover, a malfunctioning windshield wiper motor or pulse board can cause erratic functions of wipers.

  • Damaged Wiper Arms or Blades

Damaged wiper arms or blades are the most common reasons for wiper failure. These problems can put you in situations where the front wipers not working but back one is, or one windshield wiper not working on passenger side.

Sometimes one of these problems can cause the other. For example, a defect in the wiper arms, like reduced tension, can gradually damage the blades. Other reasons for worn blades are:

  • Hot temperatures damage the rubber blades. The blades are exposed to sunlight and heat almost every day. Since they are made of rubber, they crack and split over time because they are brittle when exposed to sunlight.
  • Cold weather conditions lead to the hardening of rubber. As a result, the blades lose flexibility and display poor performance. They skip or streak on the car’s windshield.
  • Snow can accumulate on the wiper arms or windshield and put a lot of stress on the blades. When the wiper tries to remove the hard ice, it gets damaged.
  • Rubber blades get damaged when they come in contact with chemicals. You might be using corrosive chemicals to clean the car, for example, aggressive solvents or oil-based cleaners. These chemicals and road salt damage the blades.
  • A contaminated windshield has particles that can cut the blade due to friction. In this case, the blades wear unevenly and cause streaking.

Although the blades seem fragile, these reasons can cause premature failure of the wipers. You can avoid this by removing debris or grime from the windshield with the help of a cloth. Moreover, you should always buy a cleaner that is compatible with the wipers.

A problem with the wiper arms also explains why one windshield wiper stopped working on your car. These arms can wear over time because of continuous exposure to hot or cold environments. However, some factors can wear them out before natural aging.

Causes of Faulty Windshield Wipers

If you have recently experienced a car accident, the impact can put pressure on the wipers and deform them. They can also freeze and stick to the windshield in cold weather. If you try to release them by applying force, you may end up bending the arms.

You can also damage the arms during the replacement of blades. If your wipers aren’t working and you have recently replaced the blades, you should analyze the installation method.

Lastly, like all metallic car parts, the wiper arms and wiper pivot nuts are prone to corrosion. It is more common in humid areas, but road salt can also corrode the metal over time. Thus, you should regularly inspect the arms to detect corrosion or misalignment.

  • Fused Out Windscreen Wiper

Most car parts have an electrical connection and a circuit. The wipers on your car are also connected to a circuit with a fust for the sake of protection. The fuse protects the crucial components from damage due to electric fluctuations by blowing up.


Thus, a fused-out windscreen wiper would break the circuit and disconnect the wiper from the electric source. You can detect a problem with the fuse by identifying the location of the fuse box in your car. After opening the box, look for a fuse labeled “Windshield” or “Wiper.” In most cases, physical inspection is enough to detect a blown fuse, but you can also use a multimeter if you own one.

Usually, replacing the problematic fuse with a new one with the same rating solves the problem. However, if it blows again right after you replace it or if it blows a few days after every replacement, you need to detect the underlying cause.

The repetitive fuse failure points toward an electrical problem. For instance, it can happen due to damaged wiring, a short circuit, or an overloaded motor. The fuse will break again and again until you fix the actual cause.

In this case, you should inspect the wiring before replacing the fuse. If it seems intact, check the motor. Make sure no particles are obstructing the motor; otherwise, the new fuse will also blow.

  • Malfunctioning Car Wiper Motor

The wiper works with the help of a motor that converts the electrical current to rotational energy that moves the wiper arms. However, certain habits or defects in the electrical system can result in a malfunctioning car wiper drive motor. If you have been driving in the rain for a long time, the excessive use of wipers may stress out the motor. After a certain period, the motor fails to endure the stress or strain and fails. Driving in snowfall can have similar effects on the motor.

You can detect a fault by observing the seals around the motor. Cracked seals or improper installation of mounts or motor parts may allow water to seep. The moisture corrodes the motor’s components and prevents the wipers from working. If there is no leakage, you can check the electrical connections around the motor. A defect in the electrical system, such as a short circuit or broken connectors, can cut off the power supply to the motor.

Sometimes the motor stops working after a car accident because of physical damage. Detecting motor failure due to impact is straightforward because you only have to visually inspect it. Anything that looks misaligned can stop the motor from working. Although possible, the motor should not wear out frequently. You can expand its life with regular lubrication of the motor and maintenance of wiper blades. Avoiding prolonged wiper use can also enhance the motor’s lifespan.

  • Malfunctioning Wiper Control Switch

If you’re wondering, “Why won’t my windshield wipers turn off?” you might have a malfunctioning wiper controlling switch. The switch can get damaged for many reasons, such as exposure to moisture or electrical faults. If you are unable to turn off the wiper, the switch might be stuck. It happens due to contamination, internal damage, or moisture.

Sometimes toggling the switch solves the problem, and the wiper starts working; otherwise, have the car inspected by a professional. A malfunctioning switch can also keep the wiper off. You will have to observe the electrical connections and physical condition of the switch. Aggressive use or extreme temperatures can also affect the durability of the wiper switch.

  • Damaged Pulse Board or Other Electrical Failures

If you fail to diagnose the above-mentioned problems, you should look for electrical failures or pulse board damage. Since motors overheat during operation, the wires around them can get damaged or burnt, preventing electric flow. Windshield wipers not working after windshield replacement is also common. It happens because the wiper arm wires may get damaged or displaced during the replacement process.

Most modern cars have a pulse board that controls the wiper operations. The board works like a module that provides different speed ranges. It receives signals from the control options you select or the rain sensor and sends signals to the motor. In this way, the windshield wipers work according to the switch settings or the rain intensity.

You can detect a faulty pulse board if you notice the following:

  • The wiper is stuck in one position
  • Intermittent functioning of the wiper
  • The wiper fails to work at specific speeds

For confirmation, you should take the car to an auto repair shop for inspection and diagnosis.

How To Fix the Car Windshield Wipers That Do Not Work?

You can fix the car windshield wipers that do not work by buying new wiper blades and replacing the old ones. If the wipers do not work because of a burnt fuse, you can replace the fuse and fix the underlying electrical problems. Additionally, substituting the wiper motor may help.

  • Replace the Torn Wiper Blades on Your Car

If you notice uneven wear on the blades, you should start by replacing them. These blades are available at stores and cost around $10 to $40, depending on the quality. Make sure you buy the correct size. You can look for the required size in your car’s manual because the length varies from car to car. Also, the length of the rear and front wipers may vary, so you should buy them accordingly.

You can follow the steps to replace the blades without professional help:

  • Lift the arm away from the windshield and ensure it stays stable and upright. A loose wiper arm can fall on the windshield and leave a crack.
  • Find the release lever and slide it to release the old blade. In some cars, it is a tab that has to be pushed to remove the blade.
  • Properly align the new blade with the wiper arm and press or slide the blade into the arm until you hear a clicking lock sound.
  • Repeat all steps for the other wiper arm and test the wipers.

Some people ask what to do if your windshield wipers stop working in the rain. So, you cannot do much while driving in the rain, but you can slow down and increase the braking distance from the vehicles ahead of you in the meantime. If you can’t see anything, you should pull over and wait for the rain to end, and then proceed with the fixing methods.

  • Replace the Wiper Circuit Fuse or Mend Electric Connections

Replacing a blown wiper circuit fuse is easy and usually fixes the problem. You can get a fuse for as low as $1, but the windshield wiper fuse cost depends on many factors. For example, you should consider the car model, the quality or type of fuse, or the brand. Replacing the fuse is easy, so you will not have to hire a professional. You just have to locate the fuse box and place the new fuse in place of the blown one.

Fix the Car Windshield Wipers

However, if the new fuse blows again, you might have another problem. For detecting the underlying cause, you should understand how a fuse works. It can burn because of a damaged motor, frayed wires, short circuit, power surge, circuit overload, or a defective electrical part.

Ignoring these electric problems and replacing the fuse will only fix the wipers temporarily. You can detect these issues yourself or hire a professional to help you diagnose the root cause.

  • Replace Your Car’s Wiper Motor

The wiper drive motor replacement costs around $150 to $350. The actual cost depends on the labor cost, the motor quality, the brand, and other factors.

Wiper Motor of a Car


Having non-functional wipers is a common problem, but now that you have read this post, you can fix them without spending hundreds of dollars.

The key takeaways are as follows:

  • The wiper rubber blades or arms can get damaged because of debris or ice on the windshield and prevent the wipers from moving.
  • If the wiper works intermittently, there might be defects in the motor or the pulse board.
  • You can fix the wipers by replacing the blades, fuse, or damaged wires around the motor.

Since the repair is easy and inexpensive, you don’t have to ignore the stuck wiper anymore.

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