Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The windshield wipers and the internet

It is amazing what one can learn from the internet. I often joke with people that I have learned how to do all I have done on the house by surfing the web. While this is definitely an exaggeration of the truth, I have learned much from the web.

For example, I have learned how to install a new circuit breaker from the web, and, like Cindy likes to say, I am still alive to tell about it. I have also learned how to install wood flooring from the web. The process is very simple and with some ingenuity can be embellished: see the pictures of our Brazilian Cherry wood floors, with border, that I am currently installing in the living room and will eventually install throughout the house.

From time to time I reach an impasse or need some input, and so I go and search, search , search, until I find the answer. For example, several months ago our windshield wipers on the Saturn started misbehaving. I could turn them on, but could not turn them off unless I turned the car off at precisely the right time: when they were at their lowest position. Since we are in a drought, it has not been very inconvenient, but with the advent of fall and the lower temperatures in the morning which cause condensation on the windshield, it finally had to be fixed. So where did I turn to try to figure out what might be wrong with my 1998 Saturn SL2's windshield wipers? Well, you guessed it: the internet and my friend Google. I entered the search string: "1998 Saturn SL2 windshield wipers do not stop," selected the first proposed site which had a link to a site which contained the answer: replace the motor.

The answer at first did not make any sense. I talked it over with a couple of friends and did some tests and convinced myself that the motor was the problem. So I asked a friend if he could change the motor. And guess what? The site was right, changing the motor did fix the problem. So if you are having the same problem, now you have TWO sources confirming the solution. BTW, the reason it fixed the problem has to do with the gearing in the motor, but I won't go into that here.

So next time you have a question, hop on over to the information superhighway, you never know, you might find the answer to all your know how problems.


Alan Knox said...

I know some people who would disagree with you about the usefulness of the information found on the internet: that would be some of the people who reach my blog through a google search. I can tell by their search strings that they do not want to read what I have to say.


Maël said...

Funny you should say that, I almost used your blog as the exception that proves the rule ... heehee.


tenjuices said...

what is deal with the gearing causing the problem

Maël said...

I'll start with the symptoms.
1) the wipers would turn on, but even after the switch was turned to the off position they would not turn off.
2) if I turned them to intermittent they would not be intermittent, but continuous.
3) after turning the switch off, if I produced a slight resistance when they were at the bottom of their run, they would actually stop. One morning there was some dew which produced enough friction. Another day I tried this manually.
4) if I turned the car off at the right time, viz. when the wipers were at the bottom of their run, when I turned the car back on they would remain off.

Now let's think about how wipers operate:
1) when you turn wipers off, they do not stop until they finish their cycle.
2) if you happen to turn your car off before the cycle is finished, when you crank the car back up, the wipers will finish their cycle.

So ... "logically" (to quote Monty), the switch is not the final thing that determines when the wipers stop. Somehow they wipers are made to stop when there is some sort of resistance or something associated with the bottom of the run.

Now, Howstuffworks.com states that: Inside the motor/gear assembly is an electronic circuit that senses when the wipers are in their down position. The circuit maintains power to the wipers until they are parked at the bottom of the windshield, then cuts the power to the motor. This circuit also parks the wipers between wipes when they are on their intermittent setting.

So there is a sensor associated with the gearing system and that was were the problem was. It seems to me that the sensor does not just sense position, since resistance also seemed to trigger the sensor. Maybe it also senses torque? Anyhow ... $80+ worth of new motor with the addition of Jim's time and sweat, and now I have working wipers.

tenjuices said...

gotta love jim K right.
go to guy

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