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Windshield Wipers and Washers, Page 2 of 3

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Windshield wiper maintenance

Figure 4  Windshield wiper and washer maintenance intervals.
Click on picture to enlarge view

Changing wiper blades

First, don't forget that many cars have rear wipers as well as front wipers.

Normally, the wiper blade rubber refills should be changed at least once a year, depending upon the type of weather and the amount of use. If the wipers receive greater than average use or if the car is left outdoors much of the time, both the blades and the refills should be replaced more often.

The blade base should be inspected for kinks along the frame, bent or broken lever or yoke jaws and broken or rusted blade saddles at each refill replacement.

Always replace refills or blades in pairs. If one side has worn out, the other side is likely to follow suit in the near future.

Chattering is the noise and the jerking motion resulting from the wiper blade rubber getting hard and not gliding smoothly over the windshield.

Make sure the wiper blade and rubber is properly installed and in good condition. If the rubber is soft and pliable, chattering should not occur.

Worn linkage and connections can also cause chattering of the wiper blades.

See Figure 5: Common problems with wiper refills

Wiper motor and linkage lubrication

The wiper motor, regardless of the type used, does not require regular maintenance. It is sometimes located in an inaccessible position and can only be exposed by removal of cover panels or other parts when replacement is necessary. If the linkage pivot arms or pivot shafts are exposed, apply a silicone spray lubricant to them at least twice a year.

Cleaning the windshield

The windshield should be kept clean to avoid grinding the dirt into the wiper blades and scratching the glass.

Keep waxes and solvents from the windshield. Waxes leave an invisible film that can create a serious hazard when rain or road grime becomes mixed in the wax coating. The wiper blades cannot cut through this coating during their cleaning action. Clean the waxes from the windshield surface as soon as possible, using commercial cleaners designed for this purpose.

Keep solvents from the windshield to avoid damage to the wiper blade rubber and to the sealing rubber of the windshield. Certain solvents can destroy the rubber by swelling or disintegration. Use only solutions that have been designed for use on the windshield surface.

Winter wiper maintenance
See Figure 6

If you live in the Snow Belt or your area is subjected to freezing rains, remove any packed snow or ice from the windshield before starting and stopping the wiper motor.

If the blades are frozen to the glass or snow is packed over them, starting the wiper motor can result in bent linkage, bent arms, blades, and possible internal motor damage.

Clean the park position area of packed snow and ice, remembering that the arms and blades will stop at a lower position than the lowest point of the normal wiper blade sweep. This can cause the wiper motor to continue to run which can result in blown fuses or circuit breakers, or internal damage to the wiper motor.

As the wiper blades free themselves from the glass, lift them carefully to prevent the rubber from cracking or tearing. Clean the snow and ice from the rubber before using them.

Similarly, with the washer system, make sure the nozzles are always free of snow and ice. Be sure a non-freezing solution (available as pre-mix or concentrate) is added to the washer fluid. Follow the instructions on the solution container when mixing.

Figure 6 Winter wipers are rubber-covered to prevent freeze-up in ice and snow conditions.
Winter wipers are rubber covered to prevent freeze-up in ice and snow conditions.

Washer nozzle adjustment

Centered single post-fixed position nozzles

This type of nozzle is usually located on the rear center of the hood panel, directly in front of the windshield. It is mounted in a fixed position and can only be adjusted by loosening the whole nozzle body retainer, which is located under the hood. By loosening the body-retaining nut from under the hood, the nozzle body can be turned to provide the best spray discharge to cover the majority of the windshield area. Tighten the retaining nut while holding the nozzle body in the proper position.

Centered single post-adjustable nozzles 
See Figure 7

This type of nozzle, which is similar to the fixed position nozzle, can ordinarily be found in front of the windshield on the rear center of the hood panel. However, on this type you can move the nozzle in the body to adjust the direction of the washer spray. The nozzle is adjusted with a wrench, screwdriver or pliers. If the nozzle has no gripping area, the adjustment is done by inserting a stiff wire into the nozzle aperture and moving the nozzle in the direction desired. When using the wire as an adjuster tool, do not force the nozzles; the wire could be broken within the nozzle aperture.

Figure 7 Some jets can be adjusted with a piece of fine wire.
Some jets can be adjusted with a piece of fine wire.

Individual nozzles
See Figure 8

A tab is normally fastened to the nozzle stem to assist in the aiming of the nozzle. If a tab is not present, use a pair of pliers and gently move the nozzle in the proper direction.

Figure 8 This type of jet is adjusted with pliers or by hand.
This type of jet is adjusted with pliers or by hand.

Wiper arm nozzles

No adjustment is necessary on this type nozzle as the aperture is centered on the wiper arm and moves with the arm action.

Windshield washer maintenance
See Figures 9 through 11

If the bottom of the washer fluid reservoir has accumulations of dirt, remove it from the car, clean the inside thoroughly, and reinstall, connecting all hoses and wires.

Examine the plastic or rubber hoses for cracks or breaks, and replace them as needed.

By following the mixing instructions on the solution container, fill the reservoir to the specified height with the proper mixture.

Using a long pin or a piece of fine wire, loosen any dirt deposited in the nozzles, hoses or screens. Rinse the exposed areas with clear water.

Operate the pump or motor and flush the washer system out with the new solution until all traces of deposits are gone.

Observe the washer nozzle aim and if necessary, correct it, remembering that the washer nozzles are provided in different forms and have different methods of adjustment.

Figure 9 Check the solution level in the washer reservoir. Also, check the screen in the bottom of the pick-up tube for clogging.
Check the solution level in the washer reservoir. Also, check the screen in the bottom of the pick-up tube for clogging.

Figure 10 Clean the nozzles with a piece of wire.
Clean the nozzles with a piece of wire.

Figure 11 Washer nozzles should be adjusted to hit the windshield above center.
Washer nozzles should be adjusted to hit the windshield above center.

Continue to Part 3 of Windshield Wipers and Washers

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1998 W. G. Nichols - Chilton's Easy Car Care