Fix a Windshield Wiper Arm that Doesn’t Move

May 13, 2009 | by Ethan (email) |

We’ve had a lot of rain recently. That’s a good thing as it pulls Maryland out of a short lived drought. However, it’s not such a great thing for my gimpy passenger side windshield wiper. For a little while now, the passenger side wiper wouldn’t always move, and when it did, not very far. This kind of problem can often happen in colder areas where the wiper blade freezes to the window and then the driver (me) tries to use them. I got some good advice on fixing the windshield wiper arm and here’s what I did.

Broken Windshield Wiper Arm

In reality there were a few problems. Like I said, the wiper arm only moved intermittently. It seemed to work best on the middle speed but even that was spotty.  Secondly, the wiper arm didn’t make a full motion. It had a short abbreviated stroke. Finally, the wiper arm would crash into the plastic guard on the down-stroke. The first two problems can occur because the nut securing the blade has come loose. The last problem happens when the blade position is misaligned.

How to Repair a Broken Windshield Arm



  • Step 1: The wiper arm is connected with a nut behind a plastic cover. Remove the cover by hand. Be careful as the covers will break easily.
  • Step 2: Remove the nut with a socket wrench.
  • Step 3: To remove the wiper arm, put a little pressure on the base of the arm while pulling straight off the spindle. It may need a little jiggling to get started.


  • Step 4: Inspect the connection between the spindle and wiper arm to see if it’s stripped. If so, you may need a professional to replace it.
  • Step 5: From inside the car, turn on the wiper blades and let them complete a sweep. This step allows you to properly align the arm so it doesn’t crash into anything on the down-stroke.
  • Step 6: I took some plumbers tape and wrapped it around the spindle. Ultimately, this is a temporary fix, but it should help make a tight connection between the arm and spindle.


  • Step 7: Replace the wiper blade. Set it in the proper place on the windshield and press the arm onto the spindle.
  • Step 8: Replace the nut. Tighten the nut, but not so tight the blade cannot move. Try it out before continuing.
  • Step 9: Snap the plastic cover back into place.

What do you think? Ever fix a broken windshield wiper arm? Any tips to add?

7 Responses
  1. Baba says:

    Simple quick fix , thanks!

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing this information. the wiper on the passenger side of my car has been broken for around a year now. I came across this post and sorted out the problem quickly. I would have done it sooner if I had known how easy it was going to be.
    Thanks again,

  3. jeff says:

    Thanks for the advice. I think ill use tin foil or special tape to recondition the spindle connection instead of plumbers tape. I had the bright idea of manually operation the blades to clear off a couple inches of snow, needless to say i stripped the connection but hopefully not too severely.

  4. Candi says:

    Thanks for the advice. My windshield wiper is fixed now, thanks to your suggestions. You made my day!!! 🙂

  5. Bond says:

    Wiper problem:
    I have 2003 Avalon XLS 6-cyl – since last 2 days, the automatic wipers are not working correctly. They working at right speed, but once in a while they are getting stuck at any position momentarily, and then continue to do the work. I want to fix this before it totally stops working. Any suggestion to fix the problem is welcome.


  6. HANDYMAN51 says:

    This fix is stored in my memory. We drive old vehicles, and eventually, everything seems to need fixing! Thanks! Some tips to prevent blade problems in the winter: Before leaving the vehicle outside in falling temperatures, CLEAR the slush off the windshield/ wipers to prevent it from freezing the blades down. Before getting in your vehicle, visually inspect the blades for possible freezing, and try to lift them from the windshield. If they’re frozen to the glass, free them by gently using an ice scraper or a de- icer spray. If you don’t, and get in your vehicle, turning the wipers on may result in torn blades.

  7. RobbieK&KK says:

    This fix does explain that a wiper arm is pressed onto the spindle and needs to be tight, but the suggestion of wrapping “plumber’s tape” or aluminum foil on the spindle will probably make the problem worse. The spindle and arm are usually splined and the spindle is made of a much harder metal than the arm. Many times the splines on the arm are worn off from movement while the nut is loose or trying to run the wipers while they are frozen to the windshield. Putting anything between them is going to make it easier for them to slip. In these cases where the arm splines are worn, there is often metal from the arm filling the grooves between the splines on the spindle. You can usually fix the situation by removing the arm and then cleaning out the grooves on the spindle. You will need a metal scribe or scratch awl to really clean out the grooves without damaging the splines. You may even be able to make the grooves deeper. Now, when you put the arm back on and tighten it down to the maximum torque permitted, the spindle splines should dig into the arm hole and lock them together again. However, if the hole in the arm has been so worn away that it is too big, then you will need a new arm. Sometimes it is just a little too big so that the locking nut bottoms out before pressing the arm on all of the way. Those situations can sometimes be remedied with the right-sized washer under the nut – one whose hole is big enough to not bottom out below the spindle’s threads and thick enough to keep the nut from running out of thread. I have no experience with spindle/arm joints that are not splined, but I might try cleaning them well and using a medium-strength thread-locking compound on them. Just be prepared to use a gear puller to get them apart if you do too good a job joining them.

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