How To Fix A Windshield Wiper: Complete Guide

According to the American Optometric Association, 90% of all driving decisions are based on visual information. This implies that a clean windshield is critical for secure driving. If your windshield wipers aren’t working correctly, it might be difficult to see the road ahead clearly, putting you at risk of an accident.

Don’t be concerned if your windshield wipers aren’t performing properly; you’re not the only one. Wipers are one of the most frequently malfunctioning automobile components, and they’re not uncommon issues. We’ll go through the 5 most prevalent windshield wiper issues and how to fix them.

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5 Most Windshield Wiper Issues and How To Fix Them

1.     Your Wiper Blades Smear Water

Is there a watery film on your windscreen when you turn on your wipers? Your blades might be blunt or dirty. Water smearing can reduce your visibility and put you at risk of a collision.

Smearing in Both Directions

Worn wiper blades are one of the most common reasons for your wiper blades smearing water in both directions. Wiper blades are made of flexible rubber and wear down with time, necessitating replacement. In fact, many vehicle manufacturers advocate replacing wiper blades every six months to a year, especially if they’re scraped or damaged in any way.

Cleaning windshield wiper blade with a wet towel.

Try This First

  • To begin, clean your windscreen thoroughly to see whether this streaking and fading is caused by dirt or smear.
  • Wipe your wiper blades down with warm soapy water to remove dirt and debris, then use rubbing alcohol to clean the blade’s edge.
  • If smearing water is still an issue, it’s time to replace the rubber.

Water Smearing in Only One Direction

In cold weather, water smearing typically occurs in only one direction. This is caused by an accumulation of ice on the wiper blade.

Do this instead

  • If your windshield wipers smear water in only one direction, it’s likely that the blade has become frozen to the window. To fix this, try using a de­icer or even pouring warm water over the blade to loosen it up.

2.     Wiper Arms are Juddering/Chattering

Another typical issue that may prevent you from driving in the rain is a wiper arm that judders or chitters. It’s not just aggravating, but you’ll almost certainly get smears and streaks if you try to use your wipers while they’re chattering loudly. This happens for a variety of reasons, including:

Windshield wiper on while driving in the rain.

The Arm Is Loose

One reason the arms might be juddering is if they are loose and not connected properly to the blade. If this is the case, tighten the nut on the arm using a wrench.

Wiper Blade Not Connected Correctly

Another possibility is that the blade itself may not be attached correctly to the arm. In this instance, reattach it following your car’s specific instructions.

Arm Rubbing Against Windshield

If there is noise when you turn on your wipers and it sounds like the blades are hitting something, it could mean that your windshield’s arm is defective.

The Blade

It could have an issue with the wiper blade itself, or your windshield or wiper blades may not be clean.

Expert Tip: Check to see whether the arm is parallel with the windscreen by bringing it near your vehicle. If it isn’t, straighten out the arm or seek assistance from a professional! If everything is clean and your wiper arm appears normal, it’s time to change your old wiper blades.

The Wiper Arms Are Bent

If your windshield wipers aren’t working or are leaving streaks on the glass, it might be because the arms are bent. When they are at the correct angle, windshield wiper blades must be at a specific level. If they’re not, your wipers will miss spots on the glass or move erratically.

To fix this problem, you’ll need to remove the wiper arms and straighten them out. This is usually a relatively easy task that anyone can do.

3.     Water Beads That Won’t Wipe Away

Because pollutants can adhere to your windscreen, this occurs. The droplets are stuck to the layer of filth and grime on your window rather than escaping as they should. Water beads will not wipe or run off your windscreen in some situations, remaining firmly glued to the glass as they block your vision.

The simplest solution is to have your windshield cleaned properly and then coated with a water-repellent sealant.

Man cleaning the windshield with a squeegee.

Haze Across the Windshield

What causes your windshield wiper blades to create a hazy film on your windshield? It appears that the main culprit is errant windshield wax. Alternatively, it might be because the initial application was not done properly.

Before applying a substance that repels water, clean your windshield thoroughly to remove any residue. If a strong glass cleaner isn’t enough, you might try using a wax remover on your windscreen. This too will take time and elbow grease, but you will be able to see how the condition is after that.

4.     Wiper Arms Malfunctioning

There may be a variety of reasons why your windshield wiper blades aren’t working, but fortunately, they’re all relatively easy to repair. You may not understand how to replace U-joints or remove a vehicle alarm, but there’s plenty of time to learn. So, what are the most prevalent issues that cause window wipers to stop functioning?

The Fuse is Blown

The most common reason for difficulties is a blown fuse. This will be the cause of your wiper not working in the vast majority of situations. When the fuse switches off, your wipers won’t move even if you try to turn them on.

Fortunately, they are inexpensive and easy to replace, as the fuses burn out, and you may easily perform this task yourself.

Bad Wiper Motor

Another reason your windshield wipers may have stopped working is a faulty wiper motor. How can you tell if your windshield wiper motor is broken? If your wiper blades aren’t moving, there’s something wrong.

So, first, look for a blown fuse. If the fuse is in good working order, the most common cause of the motor failure is that it has died. You can try this by turning on your wipers and listening for any unusual noises coming from the motor. If you don’t detect anything or if the noise is unusually loud, it’s time to replace the motor.

U-Joint Needs Replacement

The U-joint connects the wiper arm to the blade and can become worn over time. If you’re experiencing squeaking noises when your wipers are turned on, it might be indicative of a bad U-joint. To fix this issue, simply replace the joint with a new one.

Loose Pivots Nuts

Loose pivot nuts can also cause your wipers to have trouble functioning and stopping properly. The metal arms are connected to the wiper transmission by nuts, so if they aren’t tightly fastened, there will be a significant reduction in performance. This might happen frequently on one side but not always on both sides at the same time.

If you find that only one of the wiper’s nuts is loose, it’s possible that they’re the source of the problem. Simply tighten them and check the second one to make sure it’s as secure. Then test them to see if you were able to repair them correctly.

5.     Windshield Wiper Fluid Not Working

If your windshield wipers are working but the fluid isn’t, it’s likely that you have a leak in the system. You can troubleshoot this by checking the hoses and lines for cracks, leaks, or blockages. If everything looks good, reattach the reservoir and check the level of fluid; if it’s low, add more. Be sure to use only windshield washer fluid!

Close-up photo of windshield wiper fluid container.

How Do I Replace My Windshield Wipers?

Now that you know how to identify and fix some of the most common problems with windshield wipers, what if you need to replace the blades entirely? It’s not as difficult as it might seem.

In most cases, all you have to do is remove the cowl (the cover over your engine), find the wiper arms, release them from the blade and remove the old one. Then attach the new blade, reattach the cowl and test them out. If they’re still not working right, go back through this guide to troubleshoot further.

Replacing your windshield wipers doesn’t have to be a daunting task; by following these simple instructions, you can get them fixed in no time!

What to Do If Your Windshield Wipers Stop Working in the Rain?

If your windshield wiper isn’t working and it’s raining, the best thing to do is pull over in a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights while you wait for the rain to stop before attempting to repair the problem. If you can’t resolve the problem yourself, get help from a tow truck or a local mechanic if you can.

Why Wiper Blades Won’t Turn On/Off

If your wipers continue to function after you’ve switched them off, there are three likely causes. Because the only way to determine where the problem originates is by trial and error replacement of components, you might as well start with the most basic one:

1.     Wiper Relay

A windshield wiper system’s internal electric switch mechanism is known as a relay. Automotive relays are tiny plastic boxes that fit into specific sockets in a covered panel beneath the bonnet near several other relays. A failed relay might cause the wipers to stop working entirely or operate while turned off. It’s usually simple to diagnose and fix a failed relay.

2.     Faulty Switch

This is the switch that switches the wipers on and off, and it has a lot of intricate inner workings. The wipers may become stuck on occasionally or in low or intermittent mode owing to one or more of these circuits failing.

Changing the switch will be more difficult than replacing the relay since you’ll need to remove part of the steering column. For your make, model, and year of vehicle, look for online instructions regarding this procedure.

3.     Faulty Park Switch

The system no longer instructs the wipers to cease at the bottom of the windshield when the park switch fails. When a lot of systems have built-in park switches, as is the case with wiper motors, it’s usually necessary to replace the whole motor.

Almost always, repairing wiper problems that won’t turn off necessitates the replacement of the faulty component. Fortunately, identifying replacement parts online is quite easy. So, once you’ve figured out why your windshield wipers aren’t shutting off, you’ll know what to buy. If you’re not comfortable working on your car or if you don’t know what the problem is, take it to a mechanic.

How Do I Reset My Windshield Wipers?

If your windshield wipers are still not working correctly after trying all of the above solutions, you may need to reset them. This usually involves disconnecting the battery and touching the positive and negative terminals together with a wrench for 30 seconds. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to reset your particular model of car or see below.

Mechanic fixing the battery with wrench tool.

Step 1

Remove the windshield wiper motor and arms cover that protects the wiper motors and arms. The cover is held in place with clips. To pop it out of position, gently twist a pry tool, such as a regular screwdriver, behind the cover. Set the cover aside for now.

Step 2

Remove the wiper motor’s center nut with a socket wrench. This nut connects the arm movements to the engine. Wipers should be switched on and off one at a time so that the motor may complete a full cycle before returning to its proper park position. Because the connection has been loosened, the blades will not spin.

Step 3

Remove the wiper stalk and set the wiper blades into their upright position. They should be horizontal and parallel to the windscreen. Attach the wiper linkage to the motor once again and use a socket wrench to tighten it securely. Make sure it’s tightly secured with a socket wrench.

To examine them, turn on the wiper blades. At the bottom of the windscreen, they should sweep the windshield cleanly and then return to a park position. By pushing the clear plastic wiper cover in until it clicks into place, replace it.


We’ve looked at five common windshield wiper issues and how to fix them. If you experience any of these problems, be sure to try the suggested solutions before taking your car in for repair.

Have you had to deal with a broken windshield wiper? What was your solution? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!

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