Windshield wipers are responsible for clearing away moisture from your windshield, especially when you are driving through inclement weather. Wipers are a requirement on motor vehicles in most jurisdictions, with only a few exceptions for historical vehicles and the like. The part of the wiper assembly that comes in contact with the glass, the wiper blade, is attached to a long metal rod called the windshield wiper arm.
The windshield wiper arm is attached on one end to the wiper blade. Tension from a spring mounted inside the wiper arm ensures that the blade maintains constant contact with the windshield. The other end of the wiper arm is attached to the windshield wiper linkage. Hidden from sight, the linkage arms move and synchronize the arms in response to the wiper motor.
In order for the windshield wiper blades to stay in contact with the glass while they are clearing away rain, sleet, or snow, the wiper arms must be in good condition. A spring inside each arm creates tension so that the blade is held firmly against the windshield. The movement of each wiper arm draws its wiper blade across the windshield in the way that a person might drag a squeegee across it to remove water. A few problems can develop with a windshield wiper arm that can prevent the blade from doing its job.
For instance, corrosion in the flexible joints of the windshield wiper arm can prevent the spring from keeping the blade in contact with the glass. Or a stripped out connection between the wiper arm and the linkage underneath the cowl panel can prevent the wiper motor from moving the arms at all.
You might need a new windshield wiper arm if you notice that the blade does not clear away moisture or causes streaks. A problem might be more evident if the blade does not even make contact with the glass at some point. And if a wiper arm does not move at all, it might need replacement. Additionally, the arm might need to be replaced if the paint is flaking or chipping, often due to corrosion of the metal arm.
To replace a windshield wiper arm on your vehicle, a technician will need to access the connection between the arm and the wiper linkage. On some vehicles, the hood must be raised for access. On others, the connection is possible with the hood closed. The wiper arm is usually held on with a nut that threads onto the end of the wiper linkage. The nut is typically covered by a plastic trim cap that must be removed.
With the cap out of the way, the technician will unscrew the retaining nut. In some cases, the wiper arm might wiggle free, but most of the time the technician must take care to prevent damage to the threaded stud on the wiper linkage. Sometimes, a special pulling tool must be used to extract the wiper arm from the stud.
When installing the new wiper arm, the technician will first connect the wiper blade to the arm. Then, paying attention to the orientation of the new wiper arm and blade, the technician will press the arm onto its mount and fasten the retaining nut. Once the plastic cap has been reinstalled, the wipers are tested for proper function and alignment.
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