Changing the wiper motor: how it works!


The wiper motor is necessary so that you can switch on your windscreen wipers for a better view in the rain or snow. If this shows a defect, it is important to change the wiper motor. Why? We’ll tell you in this post! You will also find out which symptoms indicate a defective wiper motor and how you can change it yourself. Are you ready? Then let’s get started right away!

Replacing the wiper motor in the event of a defect – symptoms

The windshield wipers are very important to give you a perfect view in all weather conditions. So if you can no longer get your windscreen free of raindrops or snow because your windscreen wipers are no longer moving – you should act quickly. Of course, there can be a wide variety of causes behind this – one of them can be a defective wiper motor. You can now find out from us how you can tell that it really is the wiper motor and that there is no other cause:

By the way: Are your windshield wipers not working? There does not necessarily have to be a defect in the wiper motor – you can find out which other causes can be responsible for this by just clicking on the previous link!
  • The first sign, of course, is that the windshield wipers have stopped.
    • However, if you turn on these no noise from the wiper motor you can hear, it is probably defective.
Good to know: If your windshield wipers are still wiping but leaving streaks, you can easily fix the problem. You can find tips and tricks if the wipers smear in another blog post!

To be on the safe side before removing the wiper motor, you should rule out the other causes. You have done that so far and you are 100% sure that the wiper motor is defective? Then it is now time to change the wiper motor. Luckily for you, we have instructions on how to do this! Ready? Then let’s continue!

Read our wiper motor replacement guide to know what to expect!

Changing the wiper motor: Here’s how

As we have already mentioned, changing the wiper motor involves a lot of work. With a little manual skill you can do it yourself in your own workshop – but you should have enough time for that. Why? Well, because you have to remove some other parts to get to the wiper motor at all.

Important: Changing the wiper motor works a little differently on every vehicle – the motor can always be found near the wipers, but there are different numbers of parts that need to be removed. However, the change itself is always relatively similar.

But now we really come to the instructions! Ready? Let’s go!

Replacing the wiper motor – Step 1: Expose the motor

In order to be able to change your defective windshield wiper motor, you first have to remove the old one – and to do this you also need access to it. Depending on the vehicle and model, you have to remove more or less other parts for this. For most cars, you do the following:

  • Remove the rubber seal and the cover over the water box.
    • Watch out for lines and hoses – you should also carefully loosen these.
  • On some vehicles, you may also need to remove part of the bulkhead between the engine compartment and the windshield.

You should now be able to see the wiper motor. Before we get to the removal of the old wiper motor, however, the wiper arms have to be out of the way – you have to remove them for this. We’ll tell you how in Step 2!

To change the wiper motor, you have to remove the wiper arms.

Replacing the wiper motor – Step 2: Remove the wiper arms

This time we won’t beat around the bush and will tell you straight away how to remove the wiper arms:

  • First you should mark their starting point.
    • This is easy to do with a little masking tape on which you mark the position.
    • Alternatively, you can also mark them on the windshield with a washable pen.
  • Then you take off the cover caps on the joints of the wiper arms.
  • Then unscrew the nut underneath.
  • Now all you have to do is pull the wiper arms off the mount using a windscreen wiper puller.
Pro tip: Theoretically, you could also pull them off with your bare hands, but we advise you to use a puller. Otherwise the wiper arms can break off completely and then you would also need new wiper arms.

So now you’ve almost reached the wiper motor, but one thing is still in the way: the wiper linkage – that’s where the motor is attached. You can find out how to proceed immediately in step 3!

Good to know: If the windscreen wipers don’t work because they are broken themselves, we also have instructions on how to change the windscreen wipers! You can get there with just one click!

Replacing the wiper motor – Step 3: Remove the wiper linkage

Since the wiper motor is usually attached directly to the wiper linkage, you must also remove this for the planned change. This is how you do it:

  • First, unplug the wiper motor connector to get the linkage out as well.
  • The wiper linkage is usually attached with 2 screws on the left and right – you loosen them completely.
  • You should now be able to move and remove the wiper linkage.
    • You may have to tilt and twist the linkage a bit to get it out.
    • Be careful not to damage anything!

If you have now removed the wiper linkage from the engine compartment, you can also detach the wiper motor from it. We’ll tell you how next!

wiper motor_broken
This is what it looks like when the wiper motor is broken.

Replacing the wiper motor – Step 4: Disconnect the motor from the linkage

Most commonly, the wiper motor is attached to the wiper linkage with 4 bolts or nuts: 3 retaining bolts and one to connect the motor to the drive arm.

Important information in advance: You should definitely remember the position of the wiper motor. The new wiper motor must be reinstalled in exactly the same position. Otherwise, malfunctions and even damage may occur!

Are you now ready to replace the wiper motor? Then loosen all the screws that connect it to the wiper linkage – you should then be able to easily loosen it.

Pro tip from Master Brian: A wiper motor defect is often due to a stiff wiper linkage. So check at this point whether the linkage can be moved easily or not – to avoid later damage to the engine.

Have you now removed your old windshield wipers? If so, now is the time to install the new one. We will explain how to do this in the 5th and last step of our instructions for changing the wiper motor!

Replacing the wiper motor – Step 5: Install a new wiper motor

Normally, the new wiper motor is delivered in the end position – this means that you don’t have to adjust anything and can install it straight away.

Tip: To be on the safe side, however, you should connect the wiper motor using the plug and let it run briefly. When switched off, it then automatically stops in the end position. You can also test whether it really works!

The motor works so far and is also in the end position and ready to be installed? Then follow these steps:

  • Attach the new wiper motor to the linkage the same way the old one was installed.
    • First you tighten the 3 retaining screws and finally the screw or nut on the drive arm.
  • Make sure the position of the wiper motor is exactly the same as before!

Finally, all you have to do is reinstall the wiper linkage and reinsert all the removed parts in reverse order. Sure, the whole thing sounds very complicated and time-consuming. But don’t worry: To make changing the wiper motor a little easier for you, we have video instructions up our sleeve! Here you can see how the change in a VW Golf 5 is done by a professional:

Now that you know how to change your defective wiper motor, only one point is missing: the costs for the change – both in your own workshop and in the specialist workshop.

Change windshield wiper motor – costs

You now know that it takes a lot of time to change the wiper motor. But what about the costs? How high are these if you do the work yourself or have it done by a specialist workshop? We have the answer:

  • Depending on which vehicle you drive, you have to budget for different prices for the new wiper motor.
    • You do get wiper motors though from €19.39!
  • If you don’t have a wiper arm puller in your garage yet, you should get one.
    • For this you need approx €14 plan on.
    • You don’t need any other special tools – and you probably already have the other tools you need in your tool case anyway.
  • Ultimately, this change will of course cost you much time – if you decide to have the wiper motor changed in a specialist workshop, the cost of the time will also be taken into account.
    • Most of the time, total costs amount to €100 to €200 at.

But that was clearly enough from us – how about you? Has your car’s wiper motor ever failed? Did you change it yourself or have it changed at the shop? Let us know in the comments – we’re always curious!


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