I was driving my 2003 Toyota Camry LE today (while it was snowing) and I had my windshield wipers going at full. All of a sudden the windshield wipers stopped in the middle of a wipe and it started making a noise. After I stopped, I forced the windshield wipers back down (I pushed them down a bit while the car was on and it automatically pushed them down). When they're stuck they can go back up but stop trying to go back down. I'm wondering what the problem might be? Could it be the motor has gone on it? Or, could it be from the snow or from having it on full blast? Also, if it is the motor, can someone elaborate on where the motor is located?

UPDATE After a few hours, I finally got the windshield wiper motor replaced and now it works no problem.

2 Answers 2


It sounds to me that the gear(s) in the motor are partially stripped. When the wipers go up, it hits the place where the teeth are gone. When you pushed it back down manually, it caught a place where the teeth are still present and brought them back down. The only way you can check this is by extracting the motor and pulling the gears apart to check. Any way you look at it, the problem most likely resides with the motor. Linkages go bad, but usually this occurs at the joints where sacrificial grommets wear out and the ends pop off (no wiper action at all and you can physically move either one or both of the wipers by hand) or leave a lot of slop in the wipers (lots of clunking going on, but the wipers still go back and forth).

I looked at a video on YouTube, but could not discern where the motor is accessible at, though it should be on the driver's side of the vehicle at the base of the windshield. I would either be under the cowling (plastic piece which the base of the wipers goes through) or through the engine compartment via an access panel. (I will look and update this evening at my mo-in-law's car, as she owns one which I believe is the same year as yours).

  • Look forward to hearing back from you on where the motor is located Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 16:16
  • If I am looking at it right, the way to access it is by taking the wiper arms off, then remove the plastic cowl cover. I believe the wiper motor sits between the two wiper arms, but am unsure because it is not easy to see. It's either going to be there or up on very driver's side under this same piece. Either way, you'll access it by removing this plastic piece. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 0:37
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    Thanks. I found out how to remove the plastic cowl after unscrewing the wipers and then taking off the 2 plastic clips on the left and right side of the cowl. There are 2 different motors for my car and the one I have to get is the Denso motor. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 2:01

What can often happen when wipers meet an obstruction (which could be thick snow getting packed hard) is that the linkage from the motor to the wipers can bend or slip. This is the most likely problem here, although when you forced the wipers down you may have caused further damage or bent the linkages further.

I haven't a diagram of the Camry wipers, but it is straightforward to identify the links from wipers to wiper motors to find out if they are bent or twisted.

  • If the linkages were bent or twisted, depending on where this occurred, the wipers would be out of phase (wipers working at different angles - one at the correct angle going all the way down, while the other one does not go down all the way) or both would be at the same angle, but not go down all the way ... the motor would still be turning and the wipers would still be wiping, just not all the way (much smaller angle of coverage). I don't think this is the problem the OP is experiencing. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 11:22
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    Nah - just had to fix exactly this on a friends car last month. Needed to straighten the rod attached to the motor and it sorted out both wipers. That said, i think your answer is probably the right one.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 11:59

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