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How to troubleshoot what's causing windshield wipers that won't stop wiping

6th Generation Honda Civic (1996-2000)


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Old 03-08-2012, 11:14 PM   #1
foliage
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Default How to troubleshoot what's causing windshield wipers that won't stop wiping

Hi,

I’ve got a 96 Honda Civic LX. Recently the windshield wipers started acting funny – in a nutshell, I can’t get them to stop. The wipers failed in two phases:

1. Initially they would work fine if the switch was turned to “slow” or “fast”, but started acting strangely when in the "intermittent" or "off" setting. On "intermittent" or off, they would wipe 2-3 times and then "park" at the bottom of the windshield and turn off as expected. But then after a few seconds they'd jerk out of the park position and re-park a few inches up the windshield. They’d stay like that for 10 – 20 seconds, and then the pattern would repeat. I couldn’t get them to turn off permanently (could’ve pulled the fuse, but was too lazy).

2. After a few days, the behavior changed – now they won’t park at all. Now if I put the wipers on the “intermittent” or “off” setting, they just run as they do in the “slow” setting.

In reading through the forums, it’s not clear whether this problem is the wiper motor or the switch. In an attempt to do some troubleshooting, I unplugged the switch and took it out of the loop and started the car again –the wipers didn’t move at all with the switch out of the loop. When I plugged the switch back in and started the car, the wipers started up again and repeated the behavior in #2 above. I’ve seen some posts that suggest getting a new switch, and other posters think that the park mechanism in the wiper motor is bad, and that the wiper motor needs to be replaced.

Any thoughts on what I can do to narrow down the culprit? I don’t want to buy the wrong part as they are not super cheap.

Thanks!
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:23 PM   #2
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Clean or replace the switch.

How does the switch plug look?
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Old 03-09-2012, 12:00 AM   #3
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Thanks for the response. The switch plug looked clean. What's involved in cleaning the switch? Or maybe a better question - what part of the switch should I clean?
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Old 03-09-2012, 12:05 AM   #4
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http://honda-tech.com/showthread.php?t=2530751
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Old 03-09-2012, 12:24 AM   #5
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Awesome. RonJ. I'll give this a whirl. Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:57 AM   #6
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In an attempt to do some troubleshooting, I unplugged the switch and took it out of the loop and started the car again –the wipers didn’t move at all with the switch out of the loop.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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Well, it wasn't the switch. I got a brand new one from Honda and after installing the new switch, the problem persists. I guess I'll try the wiper motor next. Hopefully it's not the wiring - that'll be tougher for me to troubleshoot...
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #8
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Return the switch. If the switch is good, then the problem must be the switch connector. Terminal 1 appears to be shorting to terminal 5 in the windshield wiper connector when it is plugged into the switch.

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:41 AM   #9
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RonJ - I hear what you're saying on this, and it sounds completely logical. Definitely seems like an electrical problem. The only thing that makes me think otherwise is that a bunch of other people have posted similar symptoms as mine and, despite their suspicion that it was the switch, replacing the wiper motor solved the problem. That seems silly to me as well, which is why I went with replacing the switch first.

The contacts on the switch connector look fine, so it's possible that there's a short somewhere in the wiring (or possibly something is failing within the switch connector).

In the meantime, I have been able to get the wipers to stop by carefully turning the switch between Off and Int - if I get it to hold at exactly the right spot, it'll turn the wipers off.

Where to go from here? Not sure. I'm not great at diagnosing electrical issues, but I'll visually trace the wires back and see what I find...
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonJ View Post
Return the switch. If the switch is good, then the problem must be the switch connector. Terminal 1 appears to be shorting to terminal 5 in the windshield wiper connector when it is plugged into the switch.
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:46 PM   #11
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How would I test that theory (other than getting a new switch connector from a junk yard)? Is there a way to test it with a test light or something similar (as I said before, I'm not the best at diagnosing electrical problems, but I'd be happy to try with some instruction).

Thanks!
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:49 PM   #12
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Scout junk yards for a wiper switch connector, and then splice, solder, and shrink wrap it to your wires.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:52 AM   #13
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Update: a new wiper motor fixed this problem for me.

I first went to a local Honda dealer and bought a new switch, which didn't fix the problem (they wouldn't let me return the switch - rat bastards - fine print on the receipt said no returns on electrical parts - wish they would have pointed that out before I spend $120 on the switch!).

I then got a reman wiper motor from the auto parts store. FWIW, their supplier lists the wrong wiper motor for the 96 Civic. They list the motor for the 95 Civic, which doesn't fit. The one that's listed as compatible with the 1997 Civic fits the 96. That did the trick - wipers now work on slow, fast, intermittent,and they park as expected.

Thanks for the suggestions from this forum. Hopefully someone else with the same problem can benefit from this thread.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:56 AM   #14
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Props to you for coming back and explaining the fix. So often people never come back and forums get filled with pointless dead end threads. Beer for you!

... plus my wipers only work on high speed, don't return "home" on their own, and only work when the switch is turned half way between any given speed. So... I'll have to give this a try.
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