Repair Guide

About This Guide:

I was inspired to create this guide after using Wchong's excellent guide to repair my P0171/P0174 OBDII code problems.  Since I benefited from that guide, I wanted to contribute something to the F-150 community.  (Wchong's very helpful site can be found here:  I highly recommend you visit his site!)

This guide is intended to assist with the removal and replacement of the windshield wiper motor in 1997 to 2003 F-150’s and 2004 Heritage Models.  This guide was written after conducting the repair on my 2003 F-150 XL, 4.2L V-6 Model.  I believe the procedure is the same for all F-150 models regardless of trim levels and engine size from 1997 to 2003 and the 2004 Heritage model.  I believe it also applies to Ford Expedition models of the same years.  If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please send me a note at

If you are interested in this guide, you are probably having problems with your wiper motor system.  There are several potential causes of wiper system failure.  Among them are:

  • The wiper motor is a “brushed” motor.  These brushes wear over time.  They are not easily replaceable, so the entire wiper motor assembly must be replaced.  This guide is intended to cover this type of repair.
  • The wipers seem to work OK, but the “dwell” function of the wiper motor no longer works.  The dwell function is what makes the wipers return “home” at the bottom of the windshield when you turn them off.  If this doesn’t work, the wipers stop exactly where they are at the instant you turn off the switch.  This function is built into the wiper motor assembly and cannot be fixed without replacing the entire wiper motor assembly.
  • Wiring/harness/fusing/power problems:  This guide does not cover these types of issues.
  • Switch problem:  This guide does not cover this repair, however there are good walk-throughs online that cover this repair that involve disassembling the wiper switch (on the steering column) and cleaning the contacts and re-greasing them with dielectric grease.  It is a simple 20 minute repair that might be worth a shot before you tear your truck apart!

Required Parts:

  • Wiper Motor Assembly from Rock Auto:  CARDONE SELECT Part # 852010 (New CARDONE Select Wiper Motor w/o Washer Pump )  It was less than $60 at the time of this writing, which was less than my local national auto parts chain stores were selling a remanufactured one for!
  • Optional:  2 replacement plastic push-in fasteners/Christmas tree fasteners for cowl cover.  I purchased a pack of 2 at Lowe’s for $0.80 in the hardware section.  I found them in the pull out drawers labeled “Automotive.”  They are made by Hillman, labeled “Push Fasteners Variable Depth Ford”, UPC# is 0 08236 71593 4, H# is 881202.

Tools Required: (tools I used during this repair)

  • 3/8” Ratchet (some call it a socket wrench)
  • 3 inch extension for 3/8” Ratchet
  • 6 inch extension for 3/8” Ratchet
  • Small flat blade screwdriver
  • Medium sized Phillips screwdriver
  • Small pry bar
  • 8mm wrench
  • 8mm socket
  • Optional: large wrench/rubber mallet/small hammer etc.

The Repair:

1.       If you are able to move the wipers at all, it’s a good idea to move them to the middle of the windshield and mark the location as shown in the pictures below.  I simply used duct tape placed on the windshield and a marker to mark the location.  Make sure to mark them both!  If you can’t move them, there still may be a way you can get them to move.  I’ll tell you how in a later step.  Moving them isn’t critical, but I think it is a bit easier to do it this way.

2.       Disconnect the wire from the negative battery terminal using an 8mm wrench.  Tuck the wire down so it cannot come in contact with the battery terminal accidentally.

3.       Remove the small plastic covers at the bottom of the windshield wiper arms.  I used a small flat blade screwdriver to pry them off.  There are two of them:  one at the bottom of each arm.

4.       Remove the gold-colored nut from the bottom of each arm (2 total) using a 15mm socket.  Make sure you hold the wiper arm securely with your other hand while removing the nut!

5.       Remove the wiper arms.  These may take a lot of force to remove.  I had to use a small pry bar to carefully pop them off.

6.       Next, the cowl cover has to be removed.  This is a two-piece cover.  It is held on by 7 Phillips screws and 2 plastic push-in fasteners/Christmas tree fasteners.  Remove all of the screws using a medium sized Phillips screwdriver.

7.       Under the hood, there are 5 small clips that hold down the front lip of the cowl cover.  Gently pry these off with a small flat blade screwdriver.  Use your other hand to catch the clips as they pop off so you don’t lose them.  It is no fun trying to find these things in the engine bay!

8.       There are 2 plastic push-in fasteners (Christmas tree fasteners) that need to be pried off.  The picture below shows the location of  one of the fasteners.  Don’t worry if you damage them.  You can find suitable replacements at a hardware or home improvement store.  The one in the picture below shows a replacement from Lowe’s.

9.       Remove the under-hood seal from the cowl cover.  Simply pull it off with your hands.

10.   Now the cowl cover can be removed.  This is a 2 piece cover and the driver’s side piece overlaps the passenger side piece.  Remove the driver’s side piece first, then the passenger’s side piece.

11.   Optional step:  The wiper motor is now exposed.  If you were unable to move the wiper arms and mark the locations in step 1, reinstall the wiper arms and reconnect the negative battery terminal.  You don’t have to tighten the battery terminal, you can just slip the ring on the terminal post.  Place the key in the ignition and turn the key to make the vehicle’s power turn on, but do not start the engine.  Turn the wiper switch to the “on” position.  Now, using a large wrench/rubber mallet/small hammer, give the wiper motor a few gentle taps or light bangs.  The wiper arms might start to move!  Now you can make them stop in the middle of the windshield and mark them as in step 1 by removing the negative battery terminal at the right time.  This isn’t guaranteed to work, but it might work if the cause of failure is worn-out motor brushes.  Why does this work?  The banging can cause worn motor brushes to temporarily make contact with the motor’s commutator.   If that happens (and everything is powered up and on properly) the motor will turn for a brief period of time.  It might be enough for a few revolutions, or it might be for a small fraction of a revolution.  If it is moving in small fractions, just keep tapping until the wiper arms are in the desired position.  Once this is done, remove the wiper arms and disconnect the negative battery terminal and proceed to the next step.

12.   Remove the electrical connector from the wiper motor.  Make sure you depress the molded-in clip feature as you pull the connector.

13.   Remove the 3 bolts that hold on the wiper bracket & linkage assembly using an 8mm socket and ratchet.  I used a 6 inch extension to reduce the risk of damaging the paint with the ratchet.

14.   Now remove the wiper bracket/linkage assembly from the truck.  Pull it out from the driver’s side.  It is helpful to rotate the assembly forward as shown during removal.  Be careful not to damage the paint!

15.   This is what the assembly looks like (front and back) before dis-assembly.  Pay close attention, this is what it is supposed to look like before you put it back in the truck!  More on this later.

16.   Remove the bolt that connects the linkage driver arm to the motor shaft using an 8mm socket.  You’ll need to keep the linkage from moving, so put on some leather gloves (the linkage has sharp edges) and hold it firmly while removing the bolt.

17.   Remove the 3 bolts that hold the wiper motor to the wiper bracket/linkage assembly using an 8mm socket.  Remove the motor from the assembly.  You might need to tap it out with a large wrench or hammer.

18.   Here’s a comparison of the old and new wiper motors.  The new one looks slightly different but will work fine.  Make sure you remove the plastic protector before assembly!

19.   Put the new motor on the bracket using the three 8mm bolts.

Make sure the linkage position looks exactly like it did when you removed it from the truck.  It is possible to incorrectly rotate the linkage during disassembly and not notice you’ve done it.  The image below shows an incorrectly re-assembled unit!  The key is the position of the L-Shaped piece furthest from the motor.  If this is in a position that causes the linkage to be expanded, it will not go back in the truck!  (And probably won’t work even if you managed to get it in there!)  I’ve read online that people have actually cut and re-welded the truck’s sheet metal to get this assembly back in the vehicle.  Yikes!  Do not do that!  If it doesn’t fit, you’re doing something wrong!

21.   The next picture shows everything in the proper position.  This is what you want it to look like!  Notice the linkage is in a collapsed, compact configuration rather than an expanded one.  Once your linkage looks like this, fasten the driver arm to the motor shaft using the 8mm bolt.  You might have to rotate the motor shaft using a wrench to get it to assemble to the linkage in the proper position.  Once this is done, rotate the linkage so everything is in the same position it was in when it was removed from the truck.

22.   Place the wiper bracket/linkage assembly back in the truck, rotating forward and backwards as necessary to get it back in.  Make sure the far end of the bracket end up on top of the sheet metal ledge.  It is easy to push it under the ledge by mistake.  Also, make sure the annoying little u-clip/panel nuts stay in place during installation.  Mine kept falling out so I had to temporarily tape them into place until I could get a bolt through them.

23.   Once the wiper bracket/linkage assembly is in the proper location and all the u-nut/panel nuts are in place, install all three 8mm bolts.

24.   Reconnect the electrical connector to the wiper motor.

25.   The driver’s side portion of the cowl cover must overlap the passenger’s side piece.  Therefore, install the passenger’s side piece first, then the driver’s side piece.  Don’t install any screws until both pieces are in position.  After both pieces are in position and properly overlapped in the middle, gently install the screws.  Do not over-tighten these!

26.   Re-install the plastic push-in fasteners/Christmas tree fasteners into the cowl cover.

27.   Re-install the seal onto the vertical plastic rib located on the cowl cover.

28.   Re-install the 5 push-on metal clips to the cowl cover.
29.   Reinstall the wiper arms, making sure you are lining up the wipers with the marks you made on the windshield (if applicable.)  Don’t fully torque the nuts, just “snug” them.  You might have to make some adjustments after the first trial.
30.   Reconnect the wire lead to the negative terminal of the battery.  Don’t tighten this in case you have to make any adjustments after the first trial.
31.   Everything should be ready for a test.  Place the key in the ignition, turn it to the “on” position without starting the vehicle, and turn on the wipers.  They should be moving.
32.   Watch the wipers as they move and listen for any strange noises.  Mine were making a strange noise because they were hitting the cowl cover.  This isn’t a big problem since a simple adjustment can fix this.  Turn the wipers off, remove the key, and remove the wire lead from the negative battery terminal.  Remove the nuts from the wiper arms, adjust the position, and retest. Repeat this, if necessary, until the wipers are moving correctly.
33.   Since you are already testing the wipers, make sure the dwell feature is working properly: when the wiper switch is turned off, the wipers should return to the bottom of the windshield automatically.  If they stop in a mid-wipe position, the dwell feature isn’t working and the wiper motor needs to be returned and replaced.
34.   Once everything is working properly, tighten the wire lead on the negative battery terminal, tighten the nuts on the wiper arms, and pop the plastic covers onto the bottom of the wiper arms.  Make sure you aren’t missing any tools, close the hood, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!