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Summary
  • The wiper motor powers and controls your windshield wipers. It receives a signal from the windshield switch and adjusts the speed of your windshield wipers accordingly. A failing motor is one of the possible causes of windshield wiper malfunctions.
  • Five common problems of a bad windshield wiper motor are: slow wipers, wipers that won’t park correctly, wipers that stop in the middle of working, wipers not working at all, and humming noises.
  • You can diagnose a faulty windshield wiper motor by checking the wiper motor fuse, inspecting the wiper motor linkage, and testing the wiper motor circuit. Purchasing a new windshield wiper part motor can cost anywhere between $20 and $390 on CarParts.com.

Your windshield wipers sweep water, snow, dirt, and other road debris off your windshield, making them essential components for road safety. But just like other parts of your vehicle, they may malfunction over time. One of the many reasons why your windshield wipers could fail is a bad wiper motor.

Bad Wiper Motor Symptoms

The wiper motor powers and controls your windshield wipers. Every time you turn on the windshield switch, it sends a signal is sent to the motor, which operates the wipers at different speeds depending on the setting. If the motor fails, your wipers may not move when you activate them.

Here are other windshield wiper motor problems to watch out for:

driving during difficult weather conditions with wipers working
If your wipers move slowly after you’ve selected a high-speed setting, the wiper motor might be starting to fail. 

Wipers Move Slower Than Usual

Most modern vehicles let you choose between different wiper speeds to suit your needs. You may choose the lowest speed setting if you’re driving through a drizzle or the highest configuration if you’re dealing with heavy rain. However, if your wipers move slowly after you’ve selected a high-speed setting, the wiper motor might be starting to fail or there may be a switch or relay problem. Remember: don’t jump to conclusions until the necessary troubleshooting is done.

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Wipers Won’t Park Correctly

Your wipers should return to their “parked” position when you turn off your wipers. They usually return to the bottom of your windshield, where they’re locked in place until you turn them on again. If the wipers simply stop moving the moment you turn off the switch instead of parking, there may be an electrical circuit issue or a park switch issue in the motor.

, 5 Common Windshield Wiper Motor Problems

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: On some vehicles, the wipers may suddenly begin to park in an upright position (happens often on Crown Victorias), which indicates an issue with the internal wiper motor park switches and calls for replacing the wiper motor assembly.

Wipers Sometimes Stop While They’re Working

Your windshield wipers are programmed to clean your windshield repetitively until you turn them off. If you notice your wipers are jamming or stopping during the process, you may be dealing with windshield wiper electrical problems. In some cases, a faulty relay, wiring, or wiper motor may be causing this issue.

Wipers Stop Working Completely

One obvious symptom that something is wrong with your wipers is if they stop working. Again, other issues that can cause this to happen. A busted motor is only one of the possible culprits, so it’s best to take your vehicle to a repair shop for proper diagnosis.

Humming Noises 

You may have a busted motor if you hear humming noises on top of the symptoms mentioned above. The strange sound is usually a sign that your wiper motor is getting adequate power from your vehicle, but that it’s suffering from internal problems.

What Causes Windshield Wipers to Not Work?

A bad wiper motor is one of the possible causes of a wiper malfunction. Once you turn on your wipers, the motor directs the wiper linkage and arms to move back and forth, making your wiper blades move across your windshield. Some factors can disrupt this process. For instance, too much ice or snow on your windshield may cause your wipers to get jammed and cause circuit overloading.

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Your wipers may also malfunction if components like the control switch, wiper control unit, wiring, or linkage blades fail. To avoid unnecessary motor replacement, we highly recommend taking your vehicle to an auto repair shop once you start to notice bad windshield wiper motor symptoms.

Diagnosing a Faulty Windshield Wiper Motor

If you’re an experienced DIYer and you’d like to diagnose the problem on your own, here’s a short guide you can follow:

Check the Wiper Motor Fuse

Consult your specific manual for the exact location of the fuse. If the fuse is blown, replace it right away. If the fuse blows again after some time, there’s a high possibility your wiper motor or linkage has a problem.

Inspect the Wiper Motor Linkage

Remove the cowl to get a clear view of your wiper motor and linkage. Look for any sign of electrical connection and linkage problems. You can do the repairs as necessary or leave the task to a professional.

Test the Wiper Motor Circuit

Test your wiper motor circuit using a digital multimeter (DMM). You can check this windshield wiper motor troubleshooting guide for detailed instructions. If your circuit turns out fine, then you’re most likely dealing with a faulty motor.

ford wiper motor schematic
Older wiper systems were wired like this Ford schematic shows, although some GM wiper systems provided a ground feed through the switch rather than power as shown here. The point of this schematic is that there is a lot more to the wiper system than just the motor with its arms and rubber blades. Notice that there is a hot in run wire that is connected to the wiper motor feeding a contact strip within the motor so that when you turn the wipers off, they’ll sweep back to park position automatically. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
schematic of a modern wiper system
This schematic describes a later model wiper system that uses a set of relays switched by a multipurpose module rather than the stand alone module shown in the earlier schematic. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Replacing a Busted Wiper Motor

Replacing a wiper motor is fairly easy, especially if you’re an experienced automotive DIYer. The tools you’ll need for this process may vary depending on your vehicle. But in most cases, you’ll need basic hand tools like a large screwdriver, pocket screwdriver, ratchet, and torque wrench.

If you’re determined to replace your wiper motor yourself, check out this wiper motor replacement guide. Consulting repair manuals and subscribing to an online repair database may also be helpful.

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windshield wiper motor isolated
An aftermarket windshield wiper motor replacement can cost anywhere between $50 and $250.

Driving with faulty wipers during a bright sunny day may not do you any harm, but the same cannot be said when you’re traveling in extreme weather conditions. Not being able to see clearly through your windshield increases the risk of road accidents. Replace your faulty wiper motor right away, so you can continue enjoying smooth and hassle-free drives.

Get a Replacement Windshield Wiper Motor From Your Home

If the windshield wiper motor develops an issue, driving in the rain or snowy weather becomes difficult and unsafe. It’s best to replace the faulty part before returning to the road, especially if you live in a state prone to sudden spells of bad weather. Luckily, ordering a replacement wiper motor at CarParts.com is so easy that you can do it from home.

Your mobile phone is all you need to get a new windshield wiper motor at CarParts.com. Visit our website and enter your vehicle’s details –year, make, model, and engine– in the integrated selector. Once you’ve found a part that fits your car or truck, ordering it only takes several clicks. We operate distribution centers in strategic locations across the U.S., and the one nearest you will process your order and ship the part to ensure you receive your new wiper motor shortly. You know you’re getting a wiper motor you can depend on because we exclusively source our products from trusted brands to guarantee their quality.

Enjoy easy and secure online shopping for windshield wiper motors here at CarParts.com. Shop for our products today and choose a wiper motor that fits your vehicle!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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