Intermittent wipers not working | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

Intermittent wipers not working

Discussion in 'Tech & Repair' started by Lizzie94, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. Lizzie94

    Lizzie94 FEOA Member

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    I've seen this topic covered quite a bit but can't seem to find a definitive answer or solution. Intermittent wipers won't work and they won't return automatically to the park position on any setting. I've seen ideas thrown around ranging from the relay to the multifunction switch to the motor. Any pointers would be appreciated!
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I would hope the wiper problem is not the multifunction switch, since they are really expensive - if you can even find one for sale...... and worse; its likely to be hard to remove the steering wheel to install a replacement multifunction switch. When the headlamp control function quit on my 94, I had to replace the entire steering column, steering wheel, multifunction switch and all as one unit; to have working headlamps and turn signals. (I got a used one from another member here). I have the usual wheel pullers, and none of them would pull the wheel off the steering shaft. The aluminum part of the hub of the steering wheel hub broke away from the steel sleeve that is mounted to the steering shaft instead. Even with the column on the bench in my workshop, I have not been able to get the steering wheel off of that column!

    Therefore to avoid breakage I only use my fingertips to operate the levers for turn signals and wipers, etc.

    I did have wipers that were 'lazy'. Sometimes they would work, and sometimes they would slow down and stop in mid cycle. I took the wiper motor off, opened the round gearcase on its end, to find the rotating contact surface where the three wipers make contact, was covered in hardened grease. After scraping out the old grease, and putting in a coating of nice new grease, the wipers worked great.

    If the wipers work normally on the settings where they just keep cycling, but misbehave when on the intermittent setting; then I could guess it is the module that does the delay for the intermittent setting. I have no idea where that module is.

    There is a Service Manual for the escorts, and another manual that has the wiring diagrams in it, with pictorials showing where the various components are located. Its called the Electrical and Vacuum Troubleshooting Manual, the EVTM. The EVTM is different for each different year because the car's wiring is. I got a set for each of the Escort years that I have. They go fairly cheap on ebay. Strangely enough, neither of these books indicate it is one of a two volume set.

    By the way; the steering wheels for the 94 and 95 are different from the 91--through the 93, as are the steering columns and the wiring: For one example, the 94s have air bags, the earlier ones dont. Also, the multifunction switches are not all the same, even within one year; being different depending on such things as having the cruise control, or for the 93 and earlier, whether it is a wagon or a hatchback.
    grampy666 likes this.
  3. Lizzie94

    Lizzie94 FEOA Member

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    Well, I found the problem. Multifunction switch is bad. I took my multimeter to the switch connector and there was an open in the intermittent circuit.

    This leads me to another thing. I've got SRS code 51 flashing on the dash which indicates a blown thermal fuse in the airbag diagnostic monitor due to a short to ground. I'm wondering if maybe perhaps the sliding contacts in the clockspring could short to ground and cause the fuse to blow?
  4. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry to say that I dont know.
  5. grampy666

    grampy666 FEOA Donator

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    When the clockspring broke on my Subaru Forester, the horn stopped working too...not sure about Escorts

    I have a multi-function switch from a '95 Escort (with clockspring, I believe), airbags (both driver's and passenger's) and an airbag computer (blue box mounted in the heater control and radio area of the dash)

    If you are interested in any of these items, post here or send me a PM.
  6. grampy666

    grampy666 FEOA Donator

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    That has been my experience also...the steering wheel from my '95 LX was holy hell to get off...the steering wheel puller stripped out the threads in the hub and I had to resort to a 2 jaw puller and a BFH...
  7. Lizzie94

    Lizzie94 FEOA Member

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    Replaced the MFS a few weeks back and everything on it - particularly the wipers - work perfectly again! Of course, the SRS light is still flashing code 51. Does anyone here have past experience with this code and what had caused it? I would probably be out there right now trying to figure out if I was laid up sick in the house. Stupid winter. :mad:
  8. Nick Bruno

    Nick Bruno New Member

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    How hard was this? My intermittent wipers aren't working and it's begging to annoy me.
  9. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forums Nick Bruno!
    How hard it will be can depend on what year your Escort is. The steering wheels got harder to remove beginning in 1994. Prior to that year you could get them off with a decent puller, after having removed the horn pad and the nut on the end of the steering shaft. With my 94 I had a multifunction switch go bad (headlamp control), and in spite of using a puller designed for the purpose, the aluminum hub of the steering wheel cracked in two - but still didnt come off the steering shaft. I got a used steering column/wheel assembly from another forum member. Not all members have had this much of a problem getting the steering wheel off the steering shaft. I had the same problem with my other 94LX however.
    With that one I gave up trying to get the steering wheel off.

    With my 92LX I had the problem of the wipers moving very slowly, sometimes stopping halfway across the windshield. The wiper motor has a gearcase at its end, that converts the rotary spin of the motor into the reciprocating motion for the wiper arms. There was hardened grease inside that gear case. By scooping out the hardened grease and putting fresh grease onto the surface, the wipers worked as they should. This gearcase has metal fingers that ride on strips of brass, to complete the circuit so the wipers get parked again when you turn off the wipers.

    94 is also the year the layout of the wiper arm and controls changed. Prior to that, the variable interval for the wipers was fixed, not controllable. After 93 the interval could be made longer or shorter.

    Also be aware that there are several versions of the multifunction switch. Not only did they vary from early to late years, but they were different if you had a wagon versus a hatchback, and whether or not your car had the cruise control option.

    One of the valuable features of thee forums, is to hear about problems other members are having with their Escorts. Since any problem others have, I may have in the future.

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