Why Won’t My Windshield Wipers Work?

Updated: Oct. 27, 2023

Windshield wipers stopped working? Learn about the four most common wiper problems and how to fix them.

The Most Common Reasons Wipers Quit Working

Windshield wipers that stop working are certainly frustrating, not to mention a safety concern. Knowing the most likely cause of the trouble is the first step toward a fix. With a basic understanding of how your wipers work, you can intelligently diagnose the problem.

Note that we are looking at causes and solutions for electrical wiper failure, when the wiper arms won’t move back and forth across the windshield. If the wipers move but smear the water instead of clearing the windshield, you need to replace the wiper blades.

Blown Fuse

This is the first and simplest thing to check. Ice and snow buildup or some other strain on the wiper blades may have overloaded the fuse and caused it to blow.

Find the fuse box in your vehicle by checking your owner’s manual or using a website like this. Find the fuse diagram for your vehicle, then locate the wiper fuse. Buy a replacement fuse of the correct amperage, then swap out the old one. If your wipers come back to life, a blown fuse was the problem.

  • Cost of parts: About $10 for an assortment of 100 fuses.
  • Cost of professional labor: $20 to $50.

Pulse Board Failure

If changing the fuse doesn’t solve the problem, the pulse board is the next thing to check. It’s an electronic circuit board, usually located in a plastic box under your hood. Do a Google search to find where it is on your vehicle and what it looks like. Buy a replacement board from a local auto parts store or online. Carefully replace the old board with the old one.

  • Cost of pulse board: $25 to $100.
  • Cost of professional labor: $50 to $200.

Control Switch Failure

Sometimes the on-off switch suffers an internal circuit failure. The entire switch is removable and replaceable on most vehicles. Order a replacement online or from your local auto parts store, making sure it’s an exact duplicate of the factory switch. Don’t try to replace the switch with a third-party substitute, because it probably won’t work properly. You want your windshield wipers and washer to work just like new.

  • Cost of switch: $50 to $200.
  • Cost of professional labor: $75 to $300.

Burned-Out Wiper Motor

If none of the three solutions above get your wipers working, there’s a good chance your wiper motor has failed. This can happen after lots of heavy use.

Order a replacement motor for your specific vehicle make and model from an online vehicle parts store. Wiper motors are always located under the hood, but the procedure for removing the bad one and installing the new one varies by vehicle. Check your owner’s manual or watch a YouTube tutorial for specific directions.

  • Cost of motor: $35 to $250.
  • Cost of professional labor: $100 to $300.

Now your windshield wipers should be moving back and forth perfectly.