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Discussion Starter #1
So I looked through the forums and did not see anyone else with this issue so was hoping you guys could point me in a direction. Its on our 2005 Outback with 50K miles and been garaged all its life (seldom used).

When I start the car I have an intermittent issue with my front wipers. I move the stalk control to either of the 3 settings (inter/lo/high) and get no action from the front wipers but when I select for the rear wiper that one works. When doing this in Park I can hear the engine RPM drop a little each time i move the stalk from OFF to any of the settings so there must be voltage getting to/from the stalk.
THEN when i turn off engine and move the key to OFF then go restart the car the front wipers work again.

Does this sound like a ground issue? I have the Factory Wiring Diagram but could use some guidance. Find it hard to imagine its something significant as these components have seldom been used over the years.

Thanks fellas.
 

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It doesn't seem like a ground issue.

Instead, it could be the motor. The contact between the brushes and the rotor commutator could be contaminated/dirty. After being off for a long while, the bad contact won't allow enough current to go through the motor to get it fully started. Each time the stalk is moved from Off, to an On position, the motor might move just a small bit. This changes the contact point between the brush and the commutator. Eventually, the movement is enough for the brush/commutator contact to improve, and the motor starts to run, appearing normal. This would also be consistent with your note about the engine rpm reacting slightly when the switch is turned to On.

I don't think turning the engine off is a factor. What happens if the key is turned to ON but the engine isn't started? The wipers normally would work then as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
plainOM- Sounds like a good possibility. I am surprised that it would become an issue since this component has not been used much on this car nor has this car been out in the elements very much during it's life.
No the engine does not need to be running for the issue to occur just did it so I could hear if a load occurred which it did.

Is it possible to get to those brushes and spray electric contact cleaner on them if it is infact just contamination??

Would hate to replace that part as it seems it comes with all the linkages and is pricey.
 

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Also, the nut could be loose on the wipers. This happened with my wife's OBXT 05. It was only one wiper through. Easy to check.

Tom
 

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I am surprised that it would become an issue since this component has not been used much on this car nor has this car been out in the elements very much during it's life. . . . .

Is it possible to get to those brushes and spray electric contact cleaner on them if it is infact just contamination??
Although it's rare, sometimes lack of use can lead to problems as well. Metal surfaces, such as the copper/brass commutator contacts, can oxidize. In addition, electrical contact lubricants, which are sometimes used to protect contact surfaces, can dry up, leaving a non-conductive coating.

I don't think the innards of the motor are accessible without taking it apart, and that would require removing the assembly to begin with. The cowl cover, the black plastic below the windshield, can be removed by taking off the wiper arms and then removing the various plastic pins that hold it in place. With the cover off, the motor and mechanism can be seen clearly and removed. At that point, it might be more apparent whether a spray cleaner could be used.

Perhaps try to make more frequent use of the wipers to see if the problem disappears, or at least seems to appear less often. If it doesn't improve, I'd start looking at replacement.

Hope this helps a bit. Let us know how it proceeds . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So update, need more guidance....With the winter having come I have been using the wipers more and seemed to get better UNTIL today! Same thing as before moved the stalked to LO and no action then moved to HIGH no action then OFF and back to HIGH no action but left it on HIGH and in 20 seconds the wipers started going again. Moved back to LO for the trip to work and after work wipers worked on LO and switched to HIGH and they slowed down slower than LO.

Sounds like an electrical problem in the motor correct??

So A1Cardone has reman'd motors without the assembly P/N 43-4520. But when you look at the Factory Service Manual and Dealer parts list it shows the entire motor/assembly needs to be replaced. So which one is correct? Of course the pricing is significantly different.
 

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Before changing parts, seeing as you would have to gain access to the motor and the mechanism under the cowl cover in any event, it might be worthwhile making some measurements at the motor connector to see if the voltage is, in fact, getting there and correct. Your earlier description of the engine slowing slightly seems to suggest this; that the motor is drawing current, but not turning. However, if the voltage getting to the motor is low, the same could happen.

I'm attaching the wiring diagram I found for the front wiper. There's a five-terminal connector, B8, at the motor, where it should be possible to measure the voltage if it can be accessed. Terminal 2 is ground. Terminals 1 and 4 are the two run speed connections.

Alternatively, if the motor is removed, 12 V power could be applied to terminals 1 (negative) and either 1 or 4, and see if the motor will run.

I'd want to see if the motor can be conclusively found faulty, especially if a replacement is expensive. There's a possibility that the switch and/or the intermittent controller has a defect -- bad contacts or component.

I've only seen references to the complete assembly. It might be possible to separate the motor, but that might depend on how it's attached to the mechanism. Bolted could be fine, but riveted or spot welded could be more challenging.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm attaching the wiring diagram I found for the front wiper. There's a five-terminal connector, B8, at the motor, where it should be possible to measure the voltage if it can be accessed. Terminal 2 is ground. Terminals 1 and 4 are the two run speed connections.

Alternatively, if the motor is removed, 12 V power could be applied to terminals 1 (negative) and either 1 or 4, and see if the motor will run.
There's a possibility that the switch and/or the intermittent controller has a defect -- bad contacts or component.

I've only seen references to the complete assembly. It might be possible to separate the motor, but that might depend on how it's attached to the mechanism. Bolted could be fine, but riveted or spot welded could be more challenging.
I checked the voltage at the harness and get the 12V and all seems to be correct. I dont have a way of applying voltage to the motor on a bench to see if both speeds work. I do know that HIGH speed does not work at all now but LOW and INT. do work fine.

From the looks of the parts break down the motor is attached to the assembly with a bolt/nut so I would think just a motor replacement is possible only thing is the nut is underneath the entire assembly so the entire assembly still needs to be removed from the vehicle so you can R/R the motor itself. It looks like the culprit is the circuit board on the motor which of course is not possible to buy standalone. Funny because its the same part as the recall on the 2010/2011 Subarus.
 

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Funny because its the same part as the recall on the 2010/2011 Subarus.
Interesting observation. However, I doubt there's a relationship -- I don't recall any reports of either the overheating/fire issue of the 2010/11, or the no start difficulty you're experiencing in the 2005-9.

My familiarity with wiper motors goes back a few years, and not imports. There is a "keep going to park" switch arrangement that will ensure the motor continues to be powered after the control switch is turned off, so that the motor will run until the blades are down at the bottom, and then stop. On the ones I've dug into, as best I can recall, it was a contact arm on a circular printed circuit, where the latter had a gap at one point. The board was mounted on the larger gear of the motor mechanism and would rotate with it. The arm would be connected to a source of 12V, and the circular circuit to the motor low speed winding. When the switch is turned ON, it provides power to the motor winding and the motor starts turning. Once the arm comes in contact with the circular circuit, it is also connecting 12 V to the winding, but there's no effect because the switch is already closed. However, if the switch is turned OFF when the the wipers are mid-sweep, the arm will maintain 12V to the winding until it reaches the gap in the printed circuit. At that point, which should coincide with the wipers in the park position, the connection between the rotating arm and the circuit is broken (by the gap) and the motor stops.

A common problem with the "keep going" arrangement used to be dirt on the rotating contact, often caused by the grease that is used to protect the rubbing surfaces. When the arm and the rotating contact can't make a good electrical connection, the motor will run and stop only according to the main switch; in other words, the wipers will stop as soon as the switch is turned OFF, even if that's in the middle of the windshield, and will start going again when the switch is turned ON.

I'm not sure if this description applies to the printed circuit on the Subaru motor you have. In the wiring diagram I attached earlier, this "keep going" mechanism/switch is on the left in the Front Wiper Motor box, connected to terminals 3, 5, and 2. If that works in the same way as the ones I've seen, then the printed circuit, or whatever is used to keep the wipers going to park, is not related to the problem of the motor not starting up.

Is the printed circuit out in the open? Any chance of taking a photo, or a few, and posting here so we can have a closer look?

Edit: Did a bit of searching on Google, and it appears that some motors have a printed circuit board that the main wiring harness connects to. (In other words, the printed circuit isn't just the "keep going" switch. ) If that's the case with the Subaru motor, then it's possible there's a bad contact/solder joint on the board that's causing the intermittent operation.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Edit: Did a bit of searching on Google, and it appears that some motors have a printed circuit board that the main wiring harness connects to. (In other words, the printed circuit isn't just the "keep going" switch. ) If that's the case with the Subaru motor, then it's possible there's a bad contact/solder joint on the board that's causing the intermittent operation.
So I pulled the Wiper Switch which is very simple to do unlike the FSM states. Thanks to this link: Intermittent wipers on bugeye died - NASIOC fastgsx post was huge help. I will add full details for Outback removal.

And I am attaching the pin out which is confusing because the pin out on the switch itself does not have 9 connections on the top. It only has 6 and the bottom has all 9 connections. So I am having to guess which is what pin??

Has anyone come across that before? This is the original Wiper Switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Being not used much, even parked in the garage, you could have a mouse issue, they love wires, look for a nest!! My 2c
I wish it was as simple as that but i have check continuity between the wires from motor to switch and they test good. And have check for debris in and around the motor and assembly. I have seen the mouse issue with my snowmobiles though!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
And I am attaching the pin out which is confusing because the pin out on the switch itself does not have 9 connections on the top. It only has 7 and the bottom has all 9 connections. So I am having to guess which is what pin??
Attached is the pin picture of the switch which shows different amount of pins than the test procedure pdf I attached on my post.

Credit for pic to Rockauto!
 

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subarufan:

I haven't looked that closely before, and you're quite right, it's confusing.

Some pins are missing, probably because they're not used.

In the wiring diagram I attached earlier, the B70 connector diagram at the bottom is the wiring harness connector looked at face on.

In the wiper switch page (the link from NASIOC), which is the same in the service manuals I have, the connector diagram is for the switch itself, not the harness connector. The two are mirror images (opposites) of each other.

I've tried to resolve which pins are which, and I believe the #1 on the switch itself is the lower left. See the attached annotated Rock Auto photo. (Pins 5, 6, and 9 are missing.)

This can be verified by examining the wire colors. In the wiring diagram, pin #2 is wired to ground and should be a black wire. Check the wires going into the connector on the wiring harness. One will be solid black (without any stripe or dashes), and it should go to the pin next to the #1 pin. That way you can identify the #1 pin on the harness connector and match it with the corresponding pin on the switch itself.

Is there some reason you're now looking at the switch. I thought the voltage at the wiper motor connector was correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
subarufan:

I haven't looked that closely before, and you're quite right, it's confusing.

See the attached annotated Rock Auto photo. (Pins 5, 6, and 9 are missing.)

Is there some reason you're now looking at the switch. I thought the voltage at the wiper motor connector was correct.

Thanks for the pic with the annotations. I did "guess" correctly on the pin out then based on your photo. So all the continutiy tests according to the manual check out perfectly. So switch is not the culprit.


The reason I went to check the switch is because on HIGH speed there was no wiper action but on LO and INT all was fine. Yes I did get 12V at the wiper motor connection just dont know how to check that connector for the HIGH speed signal. Its looking like the motor is the problem at this point.
 

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just dont know how to check that connector for the HIGH speed signal.
At the motor there should be a connector (B8) as in the diagram attached below. It should have 5 pins in a 3-over-2 arrangement. This is looking at the end of the wiring harness, face-on to the connector (when disconnected from the motor). The pin numbers on the motor connector itself will be reversed.

There's only three pins associated with the motor speeds: #2 is ground and should be a black wire. #1 and #4 are the connections for the slow and fast speeds respectively. So when the switch is at low, there would have to be 12 V at pin 1 (red with blue stripe wire) and when it's at high, there should be 12 V at pin 4 (black with blue stripe).

At the motor connector (the one on the motor), it should be possible to measure the resistance across the windings and commutator. There should be low resistance between pin 2 and pin 1, and pin 2 and pin 4. (I'm taking a guess and saying that it should be less than 15 Ohms, and ideally 5 Ohms or less.) A high resistance will prevent the motor from starting. Worn or dirty brushes are a good possibility. However, I must admit I haven't had one of these out and apart, so I'm going from experience only with other wiper motors and small DC motors in general.

There should also be very low resistance between pin 5 and pin 2 when the motor mechanismm is in the normal stop (park) position, and low resistance between pin 5 and 3 when the motor mechanism is not at the normal park position.

I've also attached the front wiper motor page from the service manual. It has instructions to manually test the motor operation at low and high speeds using a battery. Here the pins are shown as they are on the motor connector itself (e.g. pin 1 and pin 4 are at the right). This might help with the resistance measurements, and if you want to try the powered tests as well.

It looks as if you're narrowing it down, and will know pretty well conclusively soon. Some motor can be disassembled to inspect the brushes and commutators; others are not intended for this and are both difficult to take apart without further damage, and then put together properly. But if you're prepared to replace the motor, then trying you DIY hand at is isn't any loss.

will look forward to your follow-up.
 

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I've also attached the front wiper motor page from the service manual. It has instructions to manually test the motor operation at low and high speeds using a battery. Here the pins are shown as they are on the motor connector itself (e.g. pin 1 and pin 4 are at the right). This might help with the resistance measurements, and if you want to try the powered tests as well.

It looks as if you're narrowing it down, and will know pretty well conclusively soon. Some motor can be disassembled to inspect the brushes and commutators; others are not intended for this and are both difficult to take apart without further damage, and then put together properly. But if you're prepared to replace the motor, then trying you DIY hand at is isn't any loss.

will look forward to your follow-up.

Thank you for the detailed explanation! Was able to check the connector (from switch to motor) and everything was good. Then applied voltage with 2 jumper wires to the motor module (thanks for the attached diagram) and found that the HIGH speed did not work, same as when activating the stalk. So knowing that I would be needing a ww motor I took off the 4 screws for the motor module (circuit board) and was able to remove the board and jumper to see if the motor itself worked at both speeds and it did just fine. So conclusion is the motor module section that sends power for the HIGH speed is no good. Of course if it was a Motor City Big 3 vehicle I could replace the module for $15-20. Dont think I can find a salvage part and just swap the module instead of the entire motor without some soldering involved.

A side note is this module on the 2010/2011 is what was replaced for the recall so you would think whoever is manufacturing this for Subaru would make this part available as replacement for devices that break over time on older vehicles instead of replacing an ENTIRE motor assembly.
 
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