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2005 Outback Wagon with 2.5L NA Auto
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2005 Outback
Intermittent problem with wipers working
When cold outside (5°F this morning) the front wipers refuse to work in any setting; washers still work. This occurred last week (warmer - @ 25°F), too, but the wipers began working after the car had been running for @ 5-10 minutes. Something is warming up under the hood that 'fixes' the problem.

Any suggestions on where I should start with troubleshooting? Anybody else experience this symptom before. I have @ 104K miles on it. I'm guessing it may be the motor going out, but it could be electronics, too.

Any help with where to start looking would be appreciated.

Thanks,
- TC
 

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The circuitry for the front wiper involves the power source (same as washer, so that's good), the switch and the intermittent control (they're together), and the motor.

Also, the wiper motor is in the cowl opening, down below the windshield. Otherwise, there's nothing in the engine compartment that I can think of that would be temperature sensitive and affect the wiper the way you described.

However, the switch and intermittent control on the steering column could well be problematic.

If the problem is repeatable; that is, the wipers fail to run every time the temperature is low, then that might help with the troubleshooting.

If on a cold morning the wiper doesn't work (before starting the engine), if you can, perhaps use a hair dryer (not too hot) to warm the area around the wiper switch. It shouldn't take much time to bring it up. Then see if the wipers work. In this way, the engine is off and there's no heat build up in the engine area so the only change is at the switch.

If the wiper works, then the switch is defective. If it doesn't work, then the same thing could be done to warm the wiper motor. It can be "reached" by blowing down through the grill in the cover below the windshield.

If it's the switch, it could be a bad contact in the switch, or the electronic intermittent control could have a bad solder joint or defective component. If it's the motor, it could be brushes.

These are just some ideas; they're probably not the only possibilities. Perhaps others will have more ideas.

Let us know what you find . . .
 

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2009 outback
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2009 Outback. Same front wiper problem

Front wipers just stopped working intermittently on my 2009 outback. Same problem as the original post. I live in Maine and it's been cold lately. When I first get in the car and try the wipes thy don't move. After driving and using the defrost for awhile they started working.
Took it to my subaru dealer in Bath, Maine , left the car for two days band was charged $30 for them to tell me that they couldn't find a problem.
The next morning, today, I got in my car and....yep, no working wipers.
Any info, updates, help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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Front wipers just stopped working intermittently on my 2009 outback. Same problem as the original post. I live in Maine and it's been cold lately. When I first get in the car and try the wipes thy don't move. After driving and using the defrost for awhile they started working.
Took it to my subaru dealer in Bath, Maine , left the car for two days band was charged $30 for them to tell me that they couldn't find a problem.
The next morning, today, I got in my car and....yep, no working wipers.
Any info, updates, help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
like @plain OM said, ....if it is a cold weather open circuit situation:

you need the dealer to leave the car outside when it is 20 degrees F, or at whatever temperature you got no wipers. If they left it inside the garage they would not be able to find it,....or if they pulled it in and it warmed up before they found it.

and it does not have to be a dealer. just a plain smart guy garage that likes working on subarus. (although the same problem could happen in any car).

personally I have had such problems with cold weather gas leaks. = 20 degrees F and lower. and on a Ford, a failing alternator when running at more the 90 degrees F
 

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like @plain OM said, ....if it is a cold weather open circuit situation:

you need the dealer to leave the car outside when it is 20 degrees F, or at whatever temperature you got no wipers. If they left it inside the garage they would not be able to find it,....or if they pulled it in and it warmed up before they found it.

and it does not have to be a dealer. just a plain smart guy garage that likes working on subarus. (although the same problem could happen in any car).

personally I have had such problems with cold weather gas leaks. = 20 degrees F and lower. and on a Ford, a failing alternator when running at more the 90 degrees F
Thanks. I had the same thought after I picked the car up from the dealer. I'm going to tell them to leave it outside this time.
On a side note, I googled the problem and saw that subaru has a recall notice out for 2010-2012 outbacks and legacy models for front wiper motor problems.
 

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Thanks. I had the same thought after I picked the car up from the dealer. I'm going to tell them to leave it outside this time.
On a side note, I googled the problem and saw that subaru has a recall notice out for 2010-2012 outbacks and legacy models for front wiper motor problems.
If you are paying, you don't want it to be a expensive motor, vs. a free to fix open connection.

where I live in NYS it is 60 miles to a dealer, which limits my interaction with them 99% of the time. (that and a lack of trust I have in their abilities vs. their listed high labor rate). I hope you are not in the same mileage predicament. (as I know Maine has its ultra rural subaru lovers).

At least they charged you only $30 for no help,...but they should not have let the car go. (I mean this is like mechanics 101,...but maybe everyone involved not even told it was a cold weather situation,...if you drop it off again, maybe you tape a note to the dash with the temps or the humidity that it happens under.) = temps making for open circuits, high humidity making for shorted circuits or electrical leaks.
 

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Are the wiper blades frozen to the windshield?
 

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2009 outback
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Fortunately I'm only 2 miles to the dealer. And thankfully I still have 6 months of warranty in case it's the wiper motor. When I dropped the car off I told the service rep that the problem just started when our outside temps dropped quite a bit.
I was disappointed in the dealer's inability to further troubleshoot and find the problem. I told them I was disappointed to pay $30 to basically be told "we don't know". I'm thinking I can't be the first person to come in with this front wiper problem.
Snow storm coming tonight so I guess I won't be driving this weekend but will get it back to the dealer on Monday.
I'll post more when I have a resolution.
 

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Just saw your previous note about blades being frozen. Nope. I checked that each time I found the wipers not responding. Wish it had been that easy.

Follow up tidbit.
I just went out to the barn to get some firewood for tonight. The outback has been in the barn since this morning when the wipers didn't work. I took my keys and tried the wipers. They worked! Arrrrgh!
 

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Just saw your previous note about blades being frozen. Nope. I checked that each time I found the wipers not responding. Wish it had been that easy.

Follow up tidbit.
I just went out to the barn to get some firewood for tonight. The outback has been in the barn since this morning when the wipers didn't work. I took my keys and tried the wipers. They worked! Arrrrgh!
Historically today in Bath, ME, (as per Accuweather which was currently easier to find the last couple hours temps then other sites).
Temp (°F)
13° 55% humidity 8am
14° 9am
17° 10am
19° 11am
21° Noon
22° 1pm
23° 2pm
23° 46% humidity 3pm


and good for you although Monday is going to be 32 degrees F it will be falling to a low of 4 degrees F,...they should find it Tuesday Morning when it will be rising to only 19 Tuesday Afternoon.
 

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Do you have an extended warranty on the 2009? Switches and motors are not covered by the 5yr/60k power train warranty -- they're normally covered only for the first three years or 36k miles.

If the parts are not under warranty, then even if the dealer leaves the car out and finds the wipers not working in the morning, they're more than likely to move the car inside to work on it where, if it's a temperature issue, the fault might well disappear. They then might say, well, it's the switch, and replace it, at your cost. And then if a few weeks later the same problem arises, they'll want to replace the motor, but find some reason to not refund the cost of the switch. It all depends on how much time they are willing to spend in troubleshooting, versus replacing parts until the problem is no more.

There's mainly the motor and the switch. The motor is in the cowl area, outside of the cabin but not in the engine compartment itself. The switch is on the steering column. In post # 2, I suggested using a source of mild heat when the wiper doesn't work, to see if, when the switch, or the motor, is warmed even slightly, the problem is corrected. This is without starting the engine, or otherwise raising the temperature of either the motor or switch when the other is being tested.

For the switch, wrapping your hands around the steering column might provide enough warmth to make a difference. Or bring warm towel or blanket to wrap just the switch area.

If you can repeatedly identify the source of the problem this way, then even if the dealer is needed for the repair, you're more likely to have the fix done once.

At least the car is in an enclosed space.

TopCat hasn't posted in the past two years. Sadly it's not uncommon for posters to not come back with the outcome . . . .
 

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Just posting the final resolution of the wiper problem. After 3 trips to the dealer, so they could verify that the wipers were not moving, they finally failed to work at the dealer. Why they had to witness what I had told them was happening still kind of irritates me but what are you going to do.
They replaced the wiper motor and fortunately it was covered under an extended warranty I had on my car. Cost $100.

Thanks again for all of the input.
 
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