text.skipToContent text.skipToNavigation


Windshield wipers are often taken for granted, but in truth they are a crucial a part of your automobile’s safe operation.



What Are Windshield Wipers?

Windshield wipers rely on an electric motor and gearbox to provide power to a pair of blades that move back and forth very quickly across the surface of the windshield. The driver can control the operation of the wipers and their speed, to take into account a wide variety of different weather conditions. Typically, five or six different speeds are preprogrammed into the computer and can be selected as the rate of precipitation rises or falls.



How Do Windshield Wipers Work?

For a windshield wiper system to work properly, the power created by the motor must be regulated before it can be transmitted to an attachment mechanism. A worm gear is used to multiply the force (or torque) generated by the motor significantly, while reducing the rotational speed of the motor. Without the worm gear, an insufficient amount of power would be generated to actually move the mechanism, or the speed of its operation would be impossible to control.

Electronic sensors help to provide power intermittently when the wiper blades arrive at the top and bottom of their cycle, and these sensors are also responsible for bringing the wipers to a stop.

The blades attached to the control arms are made up of narrow rubber strips, which clear away water and accumulation on the windshield.

How Are Windshield Wipers Made?

Several different components come together to make the system function. At the core is a windshield wiper motor which consists of a permanent magnet, wound copper wire, and a worm gear in order to regulate power and speed. The gear is, in turn, linked to connecting arms and pivots made from galvanized steel, whose primary job is to support the aluminum frame for each blade. Soft rubber composite blades are attached to the wiping edge of each arm.

Why Do Windshield Wipers Fail?

  • The wiper motor can short out.
  • The motor’s fuse can burn out.
  • The pivot nodes can work loose.
  • The blades can wear out.

What Are the Symptoms of Failure?

  • The motor will work (audibly) but the blades will not move.
  • Nothing happens when the switch is activated.

What Are the Implications of a Failure?

  • The system will fail to clear water from the windshield, meaning that the car is inoperable during precipitation.

As part of a larger system, the window motor provides the energy required to open and close the windows of a vehicle.

If you have questions or concerns about windshield wipers or any of your vehicle’s components, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.