Dear Car Talk:
I have a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country with an interesting problem. A few weeks ago, I was driving in the rain with my wipers on. When I parked and turned off the car, the wipers kept going. At first I thought I had the key in accessory mode, but the ignition was off. I then turned the car back on and off again; the wipers still kept going. Then I took the key out of the ignition. The wipers kept going. I had to take out the windshield wiper fuse in order to get them to stop. When I put the fuse back in, they start right up again, even with the car off and the key in my hand. So now I can drive the car only if it is not raining, or put the fuse back in if I have to drive in the rain. The wipers will go from normal to fast if I change the setting, but will not operate in the intermittent mode. Any help with this one is appreciated. Thanks. — Steve
Well, look on the bright side, Steve: Now you have a perfect excuse to say “no” when anyone asks to borrow your car.
I have a couple of ideas for you. One is to find the windshield-wiper relay. You’ll find that in the fuse box; it’s even labeled! There should be at least one other relay in there that looks identical. Try swapping those two relays.
If your relay is stuck in the “on” position, that could explain why power is continually going to your wiper motor, even after you remove the key and leave for two weeks to Honolulu.
When swapping the relays doesn’t make a difference, my second guess would be the wiper motor. That’s also pretty easy to test.
The windshield-wiper motor is right up against the firewall. With the wipers on, you’ll be able to hear and identify it pretty easily. It actually just plugs right into a socket on the firewall.
Come to think of it, maybe you can just buy a Clapper, plug it into that outlet, and control the wipers that way.
Actually, what you’ll want to do is go to a local automotive recycling center (aka junkyard), and buy a used windshield-wiper motor for $20 or $30. But don’t install it. Just plug it in, and test the wiper switch to see if the new motor stops when you turn off the wiper switch. If you can turn off the new motor with the switch, then you know the problem is your old motor, and you can replace it.
If it’s not the relay or the motor, then you’re getting into poltergeist territory, Steve. That could require an actual mechanic, a wiring diagram, a voltmeter and maybe a couple of hemlock roots and an eye of newt. So I’ll hope one of my two ideas fixes it.
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