What is the Cost to Repair Windshield Wipers?
We’ve gone back to our ‘goto’ car—a 2016 Ford Fiesta—and asked a variation of main dealer and independent garages for a quotation as to what we’d be looking to pay to replace wiper blades, a windscreen wiper motor, a wiper motor linkage and a blown fuse. Here's what we found:
Cost to Replace Windscreen Wiper Blades
Windscreen wipers vary in style and ‘engineering’ involved. Most main dealers offer similar parts, with a retail price of £30, but the independents vary considerably: £11.99 through to £27.99. These prices are similar to what you'd pay for other models of cars, too.
Cost to Repair Windscreen Wiper Linkage and Motor
The windscreen wiper motor was priced at £124.61 through an independent garage, or £149.54 through the main dealer (both prices include VAT)—and our vehicle specialist found a stockist for an aftermarket part, priced at £103.99 (inclusive of VAT).
The wiper motor linkage told a similar story; all independents charged less than the main dealer (our expert couldn’t find an aftermarket wiper motor linkage)—£219.23 from an independent garage, £263.08 from the official source.
As for labour, again, similar rates apply across the nation, although there was an extra ‘London weighting’ for central London, but perhaps not as much as we’d expect. The main reason for the consistency is that garages use software with ‘RTCs’ or Repair Time Codes, which gives an accurate indication of the time needed to carry out the job.
Again, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t include any diagnostic time, just a straight replacement of the components. The mean labour cost is £94.50, with highest being central London (£117.12) and the lowest coming in at just £84.15. The most you would pay to replace both the linkage and motor (living in central London and using a franchised main dealer) would be £529.74, the cheapest fix came in at £427.98.
|Windshield Wiper Repair Costs UK|
|Windscreen wiper motor (parts)||£125 to £150|
|Wiper motor linkage (parts)||£219 to £263|
|Windscreen wipers (parts)||£11.99 to £30|
|Labour (for linkage and motor)||£84.15 to £117.12|
Windscreen wiper failures
The design of the windscreen wiper has changed little since its introduction, which could be as early as the first decade of the 20th Century, or as late as 1927, depending on where you get your information from. Today, we’ve seen minor changes to improve them, mainly relating to aerodynamic abilities, or material specification, but essentially, it’s still the same thing as it was decades ago—a rubber strip attached to a metal arm, that sweeps across your windscreen.
If your car is older than two or three years of age, there’s a good chance that you’ve had to replace the windscreen wiper blades at some point. This may have been done as part of an annual service, perhaps they’ve been damaged, or they’re just worn to the point of smearing the water, rather than clearing it. But what happens if replacing the wiper blades doesn’t cure the smearing? Or the wipers have totally stopped working?
Perhaps you need a new wiper motor linkage, or even a new windscreen wiper motor.
In the ‘good old days’, windscreen wiper motors were a serviceable item, meaning that you could take them apart, clean up, and re-lubricate them when they started flagging. Most were fitted with metal gears, and the metal cases were designed to be opened with the simplest of tools (usually just a small screwdriver). Modern cars are so very different to their previous counterparts; with a drive toward efficiency, clean running, and cost-efficiency, manufacturers are looking at every aspect to save money and weight, and this has resulted in non-serviceable ‘throwaway’ items, the wiper motor being a good example.
Typically, a modern windscreen wiper motor arrives at the factory as a ‘sealed unit’, which usually means that the case is some form of plastic, that has been bonded together (so can’t easily be opened), and contains plastic components and gears, with a minimum service life. Once they start failing, the only option is to replace the whole motor. (Let’s not mention the green issues with that).
You may wonder “Is it really likely to fail?”, and while the general answer would be no, you have to understand that car makers use millions of components in the production of their cars, so a failure rate of just 0.1% (which is excellent) could still represent a figure in the thousands. Aside from worn wiper blades, perhaps an occasional ‘blown’ fuse, it would seem that luck (or properly designed, engineered & fitted components) is on our side; windscreen wiper motor, or wiper linkage failures are rare.
- Q: How often should I replace my windscreen wiper blades?
- A: Realistically, there is no given time limit or mileage. You should consider what sort of environment you drive in, and how often they’re used, but a good rule of thumb is to change windshield wipers when they start ‘chattering’ across the screen—this could be as often as once a year. Keeping them clean with regular car washes can extend their usable life.
- Q: Can I replace my own windscreen wiper blades?
- A: Absolutely. Wiper blades are sold in a range of outlets, from supermarkets to petrol stations, Sunday markets to car accessory franchises. Replacing the blades is straightforward, and usually needs no tools whatsoever. If you're wondering how to change windscreen wiper blades, they should come with directions and there are plenty of YouTube instructional videos out there.
- Q: My wipers have stuck halfway through the sweep, what can I do?
- A: While stopping halfway through their sweep could be indicative of a larger problem, or a blown fuse, it’s always worth trying to give windscreen wipers a gentle push in the direction they were travelling in. It doesn’t always work, but it can.
- Q: My windscreen wipers aren’t clearing the screen properly, is there a home remedy?
- A: Ideally, you should replace the windshield wipers ASAP (worn wipers can cause damage to the windscreen itself), but as a temporary fix, try soaking some kitchen roll in vinegar and wiping it along the wiper blade, being sure to trap the blade between finger and thumb along the length. This will clear any debris, dirt and moss that is smearing your windscreen.
- Q: How much do windscreen wipers cost?
- A: Windscreen wipers cost in the range of £11.99 to £30 for a set. Rear wipers cost in the region of £5 to £17.
The same with any ‘Cost of xxx’ information, there are numerous variations that can affect the price of repair—geographic location, make, model or brand of car, dealer or independent garage, or even, just what the exact problem is, but with a little research, we can at least give an indication as to what you might expect to pay. Some notes on the findings:
- All workshops informed us that the parts were ‘main dealer only’, meaning that you can’t buy them (the motor & linkage) through an aftermarket retailer, although our vehicle specialist did find the wiper motor for sale through a national chain of automotive suppliers.
- The windscreen wiper motor and linkage had just two prices—main dealer and independent, with the independent being cheaper, despite buying it from the main dealer.
- Labour prices include fitting the wiper motor AND linkage—it seems that it costs the same to fit either one or the other, or both at the same time.
- The difference in labour price (North to South, and main dealer to independent) was just £32.97, although if we removed London weighting, that difference fell to just £7.05
- Most workshops, including the main dealers, wouldn’t charge for fitting a fuse. However, there would be diagnostic time charged if they didn’t know that it was just a blown fuse.