Common Winter Time Windshield Wiper Issues

A harsh winter can bring windshield wiper issues to the forefront of common problems that motorist will experience. Many drivers don’t realize that wipers were not designed to remove heavy snow loads or hardened ice from the windshield. When asked to perform tasks they weren’t designed to accomplish, damage to the linkage, transmission, motor, pivots and blades are all possible outcomes. See how the average wiper system operates. Learn how to detect problems and avoid them in the future.

Wiper Operation

Although windshield wiper systems have become quite complicated with features such as rain sensors and multispeed delay functions, the basics remain largely unchanged in the last several decades. Even the most modern systems still have a control motor that connects to a transmission assembly that converts the spinning motion of the motor to the swiping action of the wiper arms. As the wiper motor runs the linkage pushes and pulls the pivots moving the arms from left to right.

The point at which the wipers stop and change direction is designed into the length and configuration of the linkage. Wiper blades that run off of the glass surface and onto the windshield moldings have experienced some kind of bending or damage to these various pieces of linkage. The timing of the wipers, so they don’t smack into each other is also a design of the transmission linkage. If they do touch each other during operation these components will need inspection.

Wiper Blades Frozen to Windshield

The windshield wipers are designed as a light duty accessory to perform the specific operation of clearing liquid from the front windscreen. Unfortunately during the winter months, drivers can often lose sight of the capabilities of the system. It wasn’t designed to remove large amounts of snow and ice. When asked to perform these tasks parts can bend, break or be permanently damaged.

Often it’s the lack of time or the fact that we have places to go that force us to turn on the wipers when they are obviously either frozen to the glass or covered by large amounts of snow. The number one way to combat this scenario is to think ahead and allow extra time for the vehicle to do its job before slapping the gear shifter in drive.

The ideal situation is to allow the windshield defrosters and rear glass defogger to work on melting the ice and snow for at least fifteen minutes before removing it with a scraper or broom. You also want to make sure the blades are not frozen in the park position. A gentle impact with the side of the hand or firm wiggle can often break them loose. After all of these steps are completed, then it’s time to turn the switch on and proceed to your destination.

Wiper Transmission Problems

Although some vehicles will have separate wiper motors for the driver and passenger side, the large majority of cars on the road today will have one motor operating both wiper arms. This not only allows the manufacturers to save money on parts for each car built, it allows them to design the timing and the surface area covered with each swipe into the linkage of the transmission.

On a typical wiper transmission there will be three connection points. These include where the motor attaches to the main drive of the transmission and where the left and right arm attaches to the wiper pivots. These connections are often constructed of a nylon snap lock that can break loose if the wipers become frozen. These connections can prevent catastrophic damage to the motor and transmission. When a driver can hear the motor run yet the wipers don’t move these connections will need to be examined for integrity.

Damaged Worn out Wiper blades

Motorists often wonder how often they should replace wiper blades. Generally speaking most drivers will not need to replace blades more than once a year if they take care of them. When asked to do things they weren’t designed to do such as clearing bird droppings, removing hardened ice or clearing heavy snow loads they won’t last as long as they could.

The contacting tip of the blade is made of soft rubber yet can be compared to the edge of a knife. When the rubber is damaged from being dragged across foreign material, little nicks and scratches can develop in the edge of the blade. This can reduce the overall efficiency or its ability to clear the windshield. When damaged in this manner they often leave an annoying spot on the windshield that remains unclear and hard to see through.

In conclusion, some of the takeaways from this article are that a wiper blade was designed to squeegee liquid. It was meant to contact a smooth and clean glass surface with no foreign debris. The better you treat them the longer they’ll last. Since most will have to be replaced on a yearly basis, people should learn how to replace their own blades. On modern automobiles this is an easy DIY maintenance task that your mechanic can walk you through the first time.

In order to prevent catastrophic damage to the linkage, wiper transmission and motor It’s best to get an early start on that cold winter morning so the vehicle has a fair amount of time to melt accumulated ice and snow. When linkage parts become bent some of the common symptoms would be wipers that run off of the glass surface, Park to high or contact each other during normal operation.