Car Repair and Maintenance

Front Wipers Not Working But Back One is [Mechanic Explains]

Front wipers not working but back one is

This publication explains the reasons for front wipers not working but back one is. Normally, your windshield should be clear to enhance your driving experience. Without a clear view of the road, it gets difficult driving and the chance of an accident increases.

A covered-up windshield blocks you from seeing road defects like potholes, which can be fatal when you drive into them.

So, if your front windshield is not working, you’re driving in the dark if it rains or snows or the traveling road is dusty. To improve your driving experience, you want to get the front wipers to work the same way your back wipers are, and this publication provides the needed solution.

Front wipers not working but back one is

How your windshield wiper works

Windshield wipers are not used all the time, but they are quite an essential component in your car. You need the front wipers in conditions such as:

Generally, anything keeping your road visibility poor requires the wiper to get rid of them without having to come down from the car, which causes inconvenience.

Experts recommend changing your wiper blades every 6-12 months.

The front wiper comprises the following elements:

  • An electric motor and worm gear reduction for power.
  • Metal arm designed with rubber blade beneath it.
  • A linkage for converting the motor power for movement back and forth.

Wipers also have a low and high-speed and intermittent basic setting, which guides the wiper brief break between each wipe. A modern vehicle wiper further features a sliding scale for speed customization.

Viability is reduced when using a too-slow setting due to many raindrops. A high-speed setting keeps the window gets dry, however, the blades tend to squeak and degrade faster. A wiper that senses rain appears to solve the problem as it gets to work automatically.

Different cars use various wiping schemes moving in the tandem or opposed system. Most models use the standard dual wiper system, as well as a single-arm system. Some Mercedes vehicles, for instance, use the mono blade wiper.

Front wipers not working but back one is: problem fixed

Compared to the back wiper, you use the front ones more often. As such, you want to consider the following if your front wipers won’t work but back one is:

1. Torn or missing wiper blades

The wiper blades of your front wiper system have a direct relation to how well the windshield wipers will function. As such, when the rubber edges are torn, your front wipers fail to make the needed contact to clear moisture or debris on the windshield.

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A tine gap between the missing or torn rubber will not wipe the dirt. It will instead gouge or scratch the windshield glass.

How to fix

Get replacement wiper blades for the torn rubber to get front windshield moisture and debris off.

2. Ice or snow on windshield wipers

If the snow or ice amount is little, your front windshield wiper can remove them. However, this is not the case if the ice or snow is enormous on the front windshield.

Moreover, wet snow can be too heavy for your wipers—the blades can bend as a result, causing the wiper arms to skip or strip at the pivots. The consequence is usually a damaged wiper motor or transmission.

How to fix

The simple solution is to remove any heavy snow from the windshield before the wiper blades get to work. If you reside in an area experiencing heavy snowfall, buy winter wiper blades.

3. Malfunctioned wiper motor

The windshield wiper motor is an electrical component that can short out or quit. If it shorts out, the front windshield will no longer work but the back is.

How to fix

If you suspect that the wiper motor is faulty, the solution is to get a replacement windshield wiper motor to get your front wiper to clear dust, water, dirt, snow, or ice again.

4. Blown wiper fuse

Usually, an overloaded wiper motor will cause the fuse to get blown—the motor is associated with the fuse. Generally, a fuse in a windshield wiper circuit burns when the motor is overloaded. So, instead of the motor failing, the fuse blows.

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A burned fuse will typically have a visible gap in the wire or a dark or metallic smear. If the fuse blows, it could be a result of a stuck wiper blade or arm.

How to fix

The solution is to get rid of any obstruction you find stopping the blades. Finally, replace the fuse. If the fuse was indeed blown but a replacement won’t get the front wipers to work again like the back one, contact a mechanic.

5. Loose wiper pivot nuts

The nut on the pivot connects the wiper arms to the wiper transmission. Pivots are typically splined with a protruding stud. The wiper arms are also splined with a hole through the base.

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Since the pivot is tightened in place by a nut onto the pivot stud to hold the wiper arm, the wiper motor turns but the wiper arm does not move if the nut is loose. However, if there’s a change in direction, it’ll move slightly but does not wipe your front windshield.

In some cases, one wiper will still be working while the other remains at the bottom.

How to fix

The solution is to tighten the wiper pivot nuts. If this does not fix the problem, have an experienced mechanic look them up to repair it.

6. Faulty control switch

The control switch controls the wiper and will fail for several reasons, keeping the front wipers from working while the back one is.

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Some bad contacts inside the control switch can be responsible for this malfunction. Usually, you will get a click sound when you turn on the switch. If you do not hear a click sound, the switch or the relay is probably no longer working.

How to fix

You need control switch replacement—it’s usually not expensive. However, the replacement requires the removal of the trims around the steering wheel for full access. Have a mechanic do the job if you’ve never performed this replacement yourself.


Usually, you need a windshield wiper/washer system inspection. The mechanic will diagnose the problem, and provide an upfront quote before the repairs. Make sure to have that front wiper fixed to enhance your driving experience and road safety.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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