If there ever was an auto part that could sell itself, this could be it. People put up with broken windows, loud exhaust, rusty body panels, oil leaks, broken air conditioning and a plethora of other problems. But, take away the windshield wipers and they’re beating a path to the closest auto parts store.
Luckily, there are only a few options, and you can quickly point them in the right direction. But, before we get to that, we’ll address the question of diagnosis. Many people may ask: Do you think it’s the motor or the switch? Honestly, you can’t give them the answer without performing a professional diagnosis, which is not what you’re there for. That takes time and a wiring schematic, but there are a few factors in your favor.
There’s a lot you can tell by just looking and listening, even if you can’t see the wiper motor or transmission, which often is hidden in the cowl. When you turn on the wiper switch, do you hear the motor? You also can hear it when it changes speed, so this is an initial way to eliminate the basics of the wiring and switch.
If the motor runs but nothing happens, you likely have a linkage that has fallen off due to a worn bushing. In some cases, the bushings are available separately, which becomes a less expensive repair. But, it takes additional time to remove the linkages and install new bushings. This is a common repair and perfectly acceptable, but there also can be a downside to it. In some cases, the linkages or ball studs where the bushings attach can be worn, and while they may seem like they install OK, they can fall off after short use.
This usually only ends up with a frustrated customer, so if a complete assembled unit is available with motor, transmission and linkages, it’s a good idea to recommend this option. Let them know the individual bushings are available, but suggest the complete unit. This way, if they go with bushings and they don’t last, you can’t be to blame.
Wiper motors are far more advanced than they used to be, with built-in computer circuit boards and electronics. This is another common source of problems, often causing erratic or inoperative wipers, but again, you only can say what you know is common and recommend a professional diagnosis.
If a wiper motor gets stuck, it can cause the fuse to blow, and it’s not that uncommon – especially in areas that see a lot of ice and snow. Also keep in mind that some wiper arms can loosen where they connect at the wiper shaft. Everything sounds like it’s working, but nothing happens. In these cases, the wiper arms often need to be replaced because material in the arms has been stripped off by the splines on the wiper shaft.
Luckily, problems with wiper motor and linkage usually are obvious, and overall, they’re easy to replace. It’s a job most people are willing to tackle. The opportunity is with the upsells you
Wiper arms are a good one. Even if they’re not the cause of the problem, the spring tension in the wiper arm keeps the blade seated against the windshield. These springs can weaken over time, affecting the performance of the wipers, especially at higher speeds where the wind can lift the blade. Also important to look at is the pivot point of the arms. These are often rusty and worn, and this too will affect the ability of the arm to keep the blade properly seated against the glass. If the wiper motor has failed, it’s seen plenty of use and the wiper arms probably have seen better days.
Wiper blades are an easy upsell, and the next thing that comes to mind with wipers are washers. Since they’re focused on the system overall, do they need washer fluid? Are their washers working? Maybe they need a new washer pump or hose. Some washer hoses are located in the cowl area, and when you’re already in there, now’s the time to do it.
Another recommendation you can make is glass cleaner. New wiper blades work better and last longer on a clean windshield. It’s also good to mention checking the cowl drains. They’re often plugged up, and while there are no direct sales here, it’s nice to point out. Now that you have someone in wiper mode, what about that rear wiper? At a minimum, I bet it needs a blade and arm too.