I have a 1990 Dodge Caravan, and this is how I replace my wipers.
I have a 1990 Dodge Caravan. The windshield wipers had been a little noisy for a year or two, and during a recent rainstorm, the passenger side wiper suddenly stopped working altogether. It didn't take much looking to find that the wiper assembly's two link rods, which are located beneath the cowl at the bottom edge of the windshield, had separated one from the other. It didn't take much research to find that the reason was probably failure of the old bushings that once held them together.
Sure enough, when I took a closer look, that was the problem. Those bushings had given me good service for nineteen years, so they owed me nothing. I owed them a decent burial.
A great many Chrysler models made since the 1970s use a wiper system similar to the one in my old Caravan, so this applies to a lot of vehicles, not just the one I own.
The tools you need are simple ones you already have laying around. A #2 Philips stub screwdriver, a set of socket wrenches, a few other things found in just about everyone's garage. This is not a difficult fix once you know how to go about it. I got all the parts I needed for $12. Having my repair shop do it would have cost me $150 or so, and they would not have done as good a job.
Step 1: Remove the Wipers
Mine are attached with a hex nut located beneath a plastic cover on the pivot end of the wiper arm. Just remove the nut, pull off any washer tubes from their fittings on the cowl or pivots, relieve the spring pressure holding the wiper onto its shaft, and pull it straight up and off. Set the wipers aside in a safe place.
Step 2: Remove the Cowl
Unscrew the fasteners. This Caravan has six, three on the outside and three more beneath the hood. It takes a short screwdriver to get to the latter ones. When they are all out, put them in something so they will not be misplaced, lower the car's hood, and slip the cowl back and out, pulling any rubber washer tubes off it as you do. If you try to remove the cowl with the hood open on my Caravan you will scratch the paint. I'm not going to tell you how I found that out, so don't ask.
Step 3: Remove the Screen
Beneath the cowl you will find a plastic screen. Chrysler has improved them since, but on this older Caravan it isn't much of a screen, just serving to keep large birds, really big spitballs, and that sort of thing out of the drain box. Take it off. Mine is held on simply with plastic clips molded onto the screen itself. Gently pull them up, and then slip the screen forward and off.
Step 4: Diagram the Wiper Assembly
Under the cowl and screen, inside the drain box, you will now see the wiper linkage exposed. It has a long rod, a short rod, two pivots (the protruding shafts from which you removed the wipers themselves), and a very short actuator rod attached to the wiper motor shaft: Stop.
Do nothing more until you have sketched and noted the position of each of those things. There is no way you'll remember it all when the time to reassemble comes. Well, there's no way I would, anyhow, so play it safe and make notes complete enough to allow you to reposition everything just as it should be.
Step 5: Take It Out
Now that's done, remove the screws holding on the two pivots. There are three to each. Next, remove the hex nut holding the actuator rod onto the motor shaft. It isn't easy to get to it without lacerating your hand on the sharp ends of the body screws Chrysler so thoughtfully left protruding into the drain box, but with enough disinfectant and BandAids you can do it. Gently pry the actuator off the shaft, and once everything is free maneuver the entire assembly out of the drain box.
Step 5: Clean Everything Up
It's a lot easier to work on things if you can see them beneath all the grime, so get rid of it. Clean the wiper linkage assembly. Clean the lower edge of the windshield, the cowl, and the screen. Remove the accumulation of leaves and other trash that probably is clogging your drain box, and clean it, too. A pressure washer is invaluable in all this, just make sure you use the low pressure nozzle that came with it so you don't strip off any of your paint. Keep washing the drain box until water runs freely through its scuppers onto the ground. You don't have to do that just for this wiper job, but while the cowl and screen are off is a great time to get it out of the way, so do it anyhow.
Let the wiper assembly dry. That goes quickly if you have a vacuum cleaner or a leaf blower that will put a stream of forced air over it (it took me about three minutes using a Shop Vac).
Step 6: Disassemble the Rods and Pivots
- Before you do, double-check your diagram and notes. Look at the assembled position of every part.
- Once you're sure you have it right, pry the pieces apart. A small prybar or nail puller works well.
- Remove the old plastic bushings, the culprits in all this, and throw them away. You can get them out of their holes with a pair of pliers, though if yours are in better condition than mine were you may have to run a 3/8" drill bit through them first to loosen them up. If there is rust on your linkage rods, this is a good time to paint them. A spray can of RustOleum will do the trick, and you can use it on any rust you find in your drain box, too.
- Once everything is clean and touched up, and the new paint is dry, lay it out in assembly order so you can keep it straight. All right, all right, so I can keep it all straight. Sheesh.
- Some car parts are marked 'L' and 'R,' which stand reasonably enough for Left and Right. My rods are so marked. It helps to know that the convention for those marks is as if you were sitting at the wheel, facing forward. L then is the driver's side, and R the passenger's. That helps you get the rods laid out in their correct positions.
- Now get out those brand spanking new plastic bushings you got. There are four of them, three in a cap design and one with a hole all the way through. I found the caps at an aftermarket auto parts store, but I had to go to the local Chrysler dealer's parts department for the other one. They charged me more for that one piece than I paid for all the rest, but it's still a lot cheaper than having a car repairman do the work for you.
Step 7: Install the New Bushings, and Reassemble the Wiper Linkage
Push new bushings into all four of the rod holes requiring them, which is to say put one into the hole in each end of each rod. One of those holes, the one on the L end of the shorter of the two rods, is larger than the others. That helps keep you (me) from putting the one odd bushing into the wrong hole. The cap bushing for the R end of the short rod goes in with its cap on the back side of the rod; the caps on the long rod both face the front.
Some people say you can hammer the bushings into the holes as long as you're careful about it, but I say you're going to damage them if you try. Instead, push them in using a pair of pliers, a socket big enough to straddle the inserted end of the bushing, and something (I used a piece of plastic) to protect the bushing from your pliers. Be careful to check your diagram and notes here; one of the cap bushings, the one for the R end of the short rod, goes in from the side opposite the others.
Once all four bushings are in their respective holes in the rods, you can use the same gentle pressing technique to push them onto their pivot pins. Note that one of the wiper pivots, the L one, has a longer pin than the other. That one accepts two of the bushings. First put on the short rod's larger bushing, the one holed all the way through. It snaps into the groove you see near the bottom of the pin. Then put on the L end of the long rod. It snaps into place with its cap bushing at the top of the pin. The R pivot goes into the long rod's R end, and the motor actuator's pin goes into the short rod's R end.
When putting on the actuator, pay attention once more to your diagram and notes. It is a small bent piece of metal with a rectangular hole that slips over the machined end of the wiper motor shaft inside the drain box, and its bend must be toward the front of the car. That is why its bushing has to go in from the side of the rod opposite the others.
Step 8: Put Everything Back Into the Car
Maneuver the wiper assembly back into the drain box, slipping the pivots up through their respective holes and the actuator back onto the motor shaft. Check your diagram and notes again to make sure the actuator is positioned exactly as it was when you first looked at it in the open drain box; if you put it on 180 degrees opposite that, which you can do with a little effort, your wipers will try to go down instead of up when you turn them on. I won't tell you how I know that, either.
Replace the screws holding the pivots, and put on the nut holding the actuator onto the motor shaft. Once everything is snug and looks right according to your diagram, turn on the wipers and observe how the pivot shafts turn. Do they move in the right direction, imitating the action of the wipers when you're driving the car? If so, you got it right, and you're all but done.
Put the screen and cowl back on, securing each, and reconnecting the rubber windshield washer tubes, in the reverse order you used when you took them off. Put the wipers back onto their pivot shafts, positioning them as you want them when turned off. Test your work by switching them on, try the windshield washer to make sure no tubing is kinked, and if it works correctly ...
Congratulations on a job well done, and a good deal of money saved!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Fred, Melbourne Florida on July 08, 2019:
Excellent help blog - thanks much for your time to post....what a relief.....as a result of your writing and all comments I now have the total confidence to do this myself. Got everything apart last night and need to order bushings....one impt. note - on 1993 Ram pickup (possible other years also) the wiper arms will not come off the splined shaft unless the arms and blades are pulled away from the windsheild as far as they reach (about 8-10 inches or so)....the clip that holds them on the spline will not release unless you do this. A little tricky but once you know this the wiper arms come right off the spline with no damage to the spline or arms.
ryland /////email@example.com on June 04, 2019:
how do i get this big red 2 piece bushing to fit along with the wiper arms on my 1981 chrysler imperial??????
Ritchie on December 11, 2018:
Thanks for the clear step by step directions. It works for my 1990 3/4 ton dodge ram pickup. I appreciate your help.
Darren on October 19, 2018:
These instructions were of great help in replacing the bushings on a 1990 LeBaron convertible. Thank you!
Virginia on April 21, 2018:
Thank you for this. YouTube has nothing for my 1995 Plymouth Voyager. Just like Rusty I was putting the longer arm under the smaller. Now that I put them correctly, the wipers seem to work well. I just hope the smaller arm does not keep popping out from the motor connection. We're approaching the rainy season here in sunny Florida, and I don't want to be caught without wipers: very dangerous.
Tom on February 02, 2018:
I read somewhere that boiling the nylon bushings for a couple minutes before will allow you to hand press them into place in the holes. I tried that-it does make it a lot easier. The second press (onto the shaft) is a bit tight but do-able, depending on your strength. It helps if you move the shaft back and forth a bit while pressing down on the bushing. It looks like the Dorman 49440 wiper linkage bushings fit on a wide variety of MoPar from '74 to '98. My cost was $2.38 and tax.
Rusty on October 17, 2017:
Idiot me had the actuator rod placed in front of the longer rod, but it's supposed to be the other way around! All seems well now after I installed the dount bushing at the wiper end of the actuator rod. The wipers are running as they should now with no slop.
It appears the linkage in your model Caravan is the same as the 1994 edition.
Rusty on October 13, 2017:
Nice write up, but on my 1994 Dodge Caravan, the cap hole on the driver's side of the actuator rod is bigger than the other cap holes. (about 1/16" bigger) Therefore, the actuator rod will not stay attached to the driver's side wiper stud / pin. I can't seem to find a Mopar part number for the cap either. Dorman 49440 caps fit the other holes OK though.
Kenneth on June 27, 2017:
Thanks buddy! There's little help out her for mopar enthusiasts
Tom Songman on September 14, 2014:
Thank you so much, now my 1989 Dodge Aries has working wipers. I was able to get all the parts from Tasca Parts Center. I used the socket method to seat each bushing, setting the plastic bushing (while attached to the arm) on a block of wood and centering the large 3/4 inch socket on top of the arm and hitting that with a hammer. One note on the 1989 Dodge, and maybe other years: To remove the wipers from the shaft you need to carefully bend a metal tab where the wiper arm bends then pull the metal tab out which allows you to pull the wipers off the shaft. So there is no nut holding the wiper assembly to the shaft, it will pull off when that tab is released. Also when feeding the assembly back into the cowl opening, make certain the bushing part of the crank is facing down.
Trey on June 09, 2014:
Thank you for taking the time to document this procedure. I failed to note how this came apart and was totally lost. You saved me from allot of frustration.
Gabriel Huff on April 05, 2014:
WOW. I found this after trying to get everything back together for over 2 hours. Should take about 20 minutes now that I know what i am doing. Thanks!!!
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on June 09, 2013:
Yours is that '93 Concorde? If the wiper mechanism has a bizarre design, I'm afraid it's beyond the scope of my experience. May I suggest a telephone call to JC Whitney's customer service people? I've found them helpful on frustrating issues in the past, more so than most of the local parts dealers. If you try that, please let us know if they can help. Others may find it useful.
Steve Eberheart from Sarasota, Florida on June 09, 2013:
When the original finally broke I noticed that they were all caps. I've also been digging around and I noticed that napa's website list the replacement caps as compatible with practically every chrysler except a 93 concorde. Is the 93 concorde some ungodly odd ball? I've also seen forums where people claim that there isn't a part that fits but I hoped that they were simply doing something wrong...losing hope fast
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on June 09, 2013:
No, it won't stretch, and so the one you put in is not the right size for that hole. There is a single larger hole in the rods that takes the larger of the four bushings, the one that is not a cap, i.e. the one with the hole all the way through it. Could it be you are trying to place one of the smaller cap bushing where that one belongs?
Steve Eberheart from Sarasota, Florida on June 09, 2013:
First off want to thank you for the quick response. This is the beginning of a hurricane season here in Florida and we're looking at about a week of on and off rain. Needless to say I'm pretty anxious to get this done. Yes I'm talking about the cap bushing on the R end of the short rod and here's something else I noticed. You say to push the bushing into the hole on the rod and THEN over the pivot pin. but the piece that I have and I'm assuming it's the same one you used (round rubbery, 1 little fin type thingy) doesn't fit in the hole. It falls right through. I've been working with the assumption that the pivot will cause it to expand (hence the soft rubber material) and secure it in the hole. I'm not so sure now.
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on June 09, 2013:
Steve, are you talking about the cap bushing on the R end of the short rod? If it's damaged, which can happen if your pliers slip, if you don't use something to protect the bushing from them as you press it into the hole, if the socket you're using as a pusher is a bit large and slips over the bushing's edge, or if the bushing itself was manufactured a little off size, then you'll have to get another one and try again. Look at it carefully. Odds are the last of those possibilities isn't really the trouble, but if you think it may be then get the new one from a different parts store to improve the chance it was made in a different factory and may have more accurate dimensions.
Steve Eberheart from Sarasota, Florida on June 08, 2013:
Okay I went down to Advance auto parts got the kit and proceeded to do everything you mention here. The coupling that connects the motor to the wipers (the one that goes on reverse to all the others) is bad on my 93 concorde. I'm using a 13 and 14 mm socket and pliers and I cannot seem to get this thing on. I'm trying to use the rubbery coupling that comes in the kit as it looks like the one you used and after about 20 minutes it looks like garbage now. Please help I don't want to replace this whole thing.
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on June 06, 2013:
Thank you for letting me know, Steve.
steve on June 06, 2013:
thank you this helped me greatly
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on April 29, 2013:
Glad it helped, Robert. That's the purpose of it.
Robert on April 29, 2013:
Thanks so much! Saved me a big headache! Nothing on the web. No one could tell me exactly what bushings I needed! Not even the dealer or Dorman! My brother now has wipers again!
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on June 28, 2011:
Hello, Bruce. Sorry, I don't have the part number. For that larger one, I had to go to the local Chrysler dealer, and I'm pretty sure that's what you will have to do as well. So far as I know, that one is not available in the aftermarket. The dealer's parts department will know which one you need once you describe it to them.
Bruce on June 28, 2011:
I am in NZ and have a Chrysler New Yorker, you have 3 small bushings which I can find ok but the larger one that goes on the motor crank, what is its part number, what is it called and where can I get one please?
Chris on April 17, 2011:
Good article, i have a 1990 Plymouth Sundance that i need to do this on, just gotta get the busings first before the next rain storm
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on April 16, 2011:
All right, Bob! Let us know how it goes!
Bob on April 16, 2011:
Your rating on a scale of 5 is around 7or 8. Your a life saver. Our wipers have been noisey for years, driver side finally stopped. (not good in Oregon) Found bushing and now you. Thanks a million. Here I go!
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on March 02, 2011:
Glad you enjoyed the article, Uce. I bet you didn't manufacture wiper bushings, though.
uce on March 02, 2011:
In my real first life, Attikos, I was in the auto parts manufacturing business.
Wiper blades and refill was one of my major product lines.
Attikos (author) from East Cackalacky on April 06, 2010:
Thanks for your comment, Mario! The purpose of these Hubs is to help others, and it's always a pleasure to hear one has.
Mario on April 05, 2010:
Awesome I got my wipers fixed because of your help!