Windshield wipers are not a luxury; they are a safety feature, and when they start to streak and cause diminished visibility, you need to replace them. Additionally, at the first sign of them not working, you need to replace or repair them.
Here are some things that you can check when your windshield wipers are not operating. It is either going to be something electrical or something mechanical.
Fuse – Since the wipers run on electricity, they need a fuse, and fuses can blow. You need to check the fuses under the dash or in the engine compartment to ensure that the fuse to the wipers has not blown. You will find the fuse box location in your owner’s manual, and the fuse box has a diagram on it that tells you which fuse belongs to the wipers. Look for a burned or discolored fuse. When you check the fuses, check the wiring to make sure that everything is connected as it should be and not worn or damaged. Be sure to use the proper fuse.
Wiring – There may be a short or a break in the wiring to the wipers. Check the motor wire with a digital multimeter for continuity. If you see an infinite resistance measure, then you have a break in the wiring. Occasionally a wire will get loose or short out, so check all the wiring for problems. Fix them or replace them. Use the circuit diagram in the owner’s manual for the wiper to trace the wires.
Motor – The wipers are driven by a motor. Locate it and listen for a hum coming from it. If you do not hear a hum and it is cold to the touch, then it is not working. Use a multimeter at the power terminals on the motor to check for voltage. The voltage should be over 12V. If it is less than that, there is a connectivity issue. Change the connecting wires and make sure the fuse is connected. Use the circuit diagram for guidance. If you do have 12V at the terminals and the motor still does not start, then you will probably need to replace the motor.
Wiper Switch – If you see smoke rising from the steering column, you probably have a bad wiper switch. In order to check this switch, you need to remove the column and find the wires that go to the switch. There may be burned insulation due to a short. If the problem is in the wires, you may be able to change out the wires and not need a replacement switch.
Friction – Mechanical parts wear against each other, and sometimes that can be caused by corrosion, wear or swelling. The shaft can be jammed, the bushings can be crumbling or the mounting blocks may have disintegrated. A jammed shaft can be dissembled, brushed, cleaned and lubricated with a silicone grease to get it unjammed. You will need to replace the blocks or the bushing. Make sure your wiper arms are not bent, and replace them if they are beyond help.
Check Your Sprayers - Sprayers give you a quick way to clean off a dirty windshield while driving, and this can be a safety issue if you are in a rainstorm. If the sprayers are not working, there are a few things that you can check in order to determine the problem.
Clogged Washer Nozzle - Look at the end of the sprayer to see if the nozzle is clogged. Use a small pin or pointed object to clean out any clog.
Washer Motor - A washer motor may not be working. Use your mulitmeter to test the power at the terminals. Check for any loose connections. If the motor is not working, but the power supply is normal and the wires are good, you may need to replace it. Check the fluid level to make sure that you have not fallen below a level that is needed for the motor to operate.
Washer Hose – There is a hose that connects the nozzle to the fluid reservoir. Check it for breaks, holes or wear. Replace any leaking or broken hose.
These suggestions should help you with getting the wipers working on your Mazda once more. If you need additional assistance, you may need to consult your local dealership.