Windshield Wiper/Multi-Function Switch Repair

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Note: The majority of this content comes courtesy of of Bob Newman on the V6SHO Yahoo! Group:

Problem

You have one of more of the following symptoms:

  • My windshield wipers aren't working!
  • My windshield wipers are stuck in the upright position and won't come down!
  • My windshield wipers work on some speeds but not others!
  • My windshield wipers are doing crazy things! Are they possessed?

Cause

Your windshield wipers themselves are (probably) just fine-- it's usually the Multi-Function Switch (the stalk which controls them) that gets gunked up and stops making proper contact causing these symptoms. You can fix this yourself at home with minimal disassembly by following the guidelines below.

Resolution

Use a small, flat tipped screwdriver and gently pry the plastic cap off the tip of the wiper stalk. It looks like it is all one piece, but it's not, there is a cap. Now remove the Phillips head screw. You can then pull out the rotating assembly, but you must be very careful to capture the spring with brass caps on both ends that passes through the head -- keep finger pressure against the spring so that parts don't go flying. The detent mechanism is simply a spring across and through the stalk with end caps. The intermittent wiper variable resistor type contact pad is in the base end of the stalk. A piece under the knob has contacts that hit different point of the contact pad as you rotate the knob. The washer contacts are in the end of the knob and are electrical contacts and are essential to a properly working wiper switch.

With the barrel removed, you can use a Q-tip soaked with electrical contact cleaner or denatured alcohol to clean the contacts of the grease. When the old grease is cleaned out, you can then apply new dielectric grease to the contacts and reinstall the springs and caps into the rotating head and the head assembly into the barrel. Before fitting the spring -- just slide the outer switch barrel on and make sure it engages correctly in the contactor -- then rotate it all the way to the high wiper position. Remove the outer barrel again -- carefully put on the spring, insert the locking pins/spring and depress, then push on the outer barrel again (you'll know how to align it as you simply line up the marks for the high wiper position!). Keep holding in the outer barrel while you fit the retaining screw. You will have to use your fingers to compress the spring to allow installation of the barrel into the stalk. It should be as good as new.