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The windshield wipers on my 91 S4 work but very slowly. Before I pop for the $245 motor I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on something else I may be missing that would cause this.
 

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before just ordering a new expensive motor, I'd first remove the cowl in front of the screen (which you need to do in any case if replacing the motor) and clean and grease the wiper linkages....you can operate the wiper motor with the arms removed and spray clean the linkages as best you can, then use a thin spray grease...might improve things? Mine improved somewhat doing this (and was an excuse to clean out old leaves and crud under the cowl, and check the drains etc!).....still not like a modern car, but then alfa wipers never were.

you could maybe even try a separate ground wire to see if the ground contact is poor.
 

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before just ordering a new expensive motor, I'd first remove the cowl in front of the screen (which you need to do in any case if replacing the motor) and clean and grease the wiper linkages....you could maybe even try a separate ground wire to see if the ground contact is poor.
All good advice - I would definitely try doing those steps. Also try to measure the voltage getting to the motor while the motor is running - how much voltage drop (eg, reading < 12v) do you find? Perhaps there is resistance in the fuse/switch/connector.

Does the motor still have two speeds ( like, slow and slower)? Or do you just have one speed, and that's the slow speed?

Caution: working around the wiper linkage while the motor is running is hazardous. It is easy to pinch a finger in the moving linkage.
 

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The grease inside the motor gearbox can become stiff with age. I have improved wiper operation by cleaning out the old grease and replacing it with new grease. It comes apart easily and goes back together easily provided that you don't pull the motor armature out. Then you have to avoid damaging the brushes.
 

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The grease inside the motor gearbox can become stiff with age. I have improved wiper operation by cleaning out the old grease and replacing it with new grease. It comes apart easily and goes back together easily provided that you don't pull the motor armature out. Then you have to avoid damaging the brushes.
right on, this approach works, this is an appropriate place to use fresh di-electric grease
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you!

Thanks everyone, took me a while but while I was in there I did all of the above: under the cowl was a pretty good sample of many seasons of autumnal debris! Cleaned that out, cleaned and greased the fairly gross wiper linkages. Then, I took apart the motor gearbox and the the grease was a pure gunk. Changed that, put it all back together, crossed my finger and BAMN, lighting fast wipers! Well, relative to Alfa speed wipers. Can't thank you all enough.
 

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Then, I took apart the motor gearbox and the the grease was a pure gunk.....
Good result! I might try that myself now!

can I just ask, was it the mechanism shown here, that you cleaned out and greased.....or something else?
(Photo: Rich)
 

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Relays?

Glad you fixed it, but when you mention "relative to Alfa speed wipers" it makes me think of the talk on the Xweb forum for X 1/9's.

Similar to the headlight relay wiring upgrade, many X 1/9 owners are installing relay systems for the wipers so that switching goes through relays and power goes directly to the motor.

Fiats, and I believe Alfas also, suffer from power loss in circuits that go through ignition and other switches, particularly as the cars age. Power running through the switches also causes switch failure.

I have the headlight relay system installed on my X, and I'll be installing a wiper relay system as the restoration progresses. It's yielded great results for those that have done it. You may find a performance increase beyond what you've already accomplished.
 

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Fiats, and I believe Alfas also, suffer from power loss in circuits that go through ignition and other switches, particularly as the cars age. Power running through the switches also causes switch failure.
That's my experience too and it is not just switches. Connectors in the harness, fuse connections and of course grounds all cause volt drops and when you add them up they can be enough to cause poor operation. I had relays in the trunk for the rear lights in a GTV with a trunk mounted battery. I was losing 2 volts at the bulbs before I installed the relays.
 

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I believe Alfas also, suffer from power loss in circuits that go through ignition and other switches, particularly as the cars age. Power running through the switches also causes switch failure.
Not that I'm disagreeing that switches and connectors add resistance, or that this is a problem in X1 9's, but...

Power to the Alfa WW motor doesn't go through the ignition switch. In fact, not much goes though that switch; most Alfa electrical components (heater fan, lights, windshield wipers) are driven directly from the battery.
 

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most Alfa electrical components (heater fan, lights, windshield wipers) are driven directly from the battery.
They don't go through the ignition switch but they all go through other switches, fuses and multi-pin connectors in the harness. The column light switch is often problematic.
 

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I'm not an electrical wiz by any measure, I'm just learning as I go, mostly from what I've read, and passing that along. But I would've thought that power to anything that is controlled by the ignition switch, like the wipers which don't get power unless the ignition switch is turned, would come from the ignition switch.

The way I've had it explained to me is that there is more current going through the ignition switch than it can handle or pass efficiently as the electrical system ages, which is what causes the ignition switches to fail.

Are Alfas wired differently? I was planning to at least add the headlight relay system to my Alfa, but if there's no need for it, I have other things to spend my time and money on! Please enlighten me.
 

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They don't go through the ignition switch but they all go through other switches, fuses and multi-pin connectors in the harness.
All true, but what can be done to eliminate those switches, fuses, connectors? Converting to blade style fuses helps a lot - the original, pointy-ended fuses have a lot of resistance - but that is not a simple conversion. However, it's pretty hard to eliminate switches and connectors!

The column light switch is often problematic.
True, Alfa light switches seem to be undersized for the amount of current they have to carry. And they're so darned expensive to replace that people look for work-arounds, such as adding relays.

AlfaMe said:
The way I've had it explained to me is that there is more current going through the ignition switch than it can handle or pass efficiently as the electrical system ages, which is what causes the ignition switches to fail. Are Alfas wired differently? I was planning to at least add the headlight relay system to my Alfa, but if there's no need for it, I have other things to spend my time and money on
I'm not sure how a '91 Alfa is wired. On earlier spiders, the headlight current does not go through the ignition switch. Try turning on your headlights with the ignition switch turned off, and see whether they come on.

But regardless of whether headlight current has to pass through your 91's ignition switch, as alfaparticle wrote above, the headlight switches (and fuses) are the weak link. So adding headlight relays and using blade-style fuses in the circuit, will both extend switch life and provide more current to the bulbs (yeilding brighter lights).
 

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Hi Jay,
I use the current that goes through the switch, the multi-pin connectors and the bullet fuse to pull in a relay that is mounted close to the end device - light bulb, etc. The relay contact gets its power from a (hopefully short) good sized wire that is connected directly to a main 12 volt power terminal. So the only significant volt drop is now across the relay contact and that is pretty low. I don't fuse this big wire as it will carry much more current than the bulb filament. Fuses are primarily to protect wiring, that is why the US electrical code is an NFPA standard.
 

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Actually, the Alfa wipers are weak because the motor is weak compared to other contemporary vehicles. The reason the motor is weak is because it does not use (cannot use) what is called dynamic braking when parking, which is where the armature is shunted to ground and the motor slows itself down until it stops. As the motor is not wired for dynamic braking, it must slow down naturally in order for the parking switch to remain activated inside. This gives the alfa motor an upper limit or maximum speed of travel so as not to overrun the parking switch (or section of the disk inside that comprises the parking switch).

There is little power lost through the switch, and related equipment. Of course, a relay to the battery 12V would make things slightly better.

The Alfa circuit and wiper motor are poorly engineered, but who needs wipers - right?

for more: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spider-1966-up/223353-bmw-wiper-motor-control-mod.html
 

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take it apart and get some ' Campagnolo " white grease to lube the motor/ gears.. a pro bike shop will have it in small tubes.. about the wiper motor being slow.. heck no.. I am running a subi alternator ( 90 amp ) on my car I get 14 volts at all times even with wipers on lights on heater fan on.. the issue here it volts not the motor itself. also when you take it apart, you might find the wires into the motor chafted look carefully.
 

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Ed:

I am not understanding your reasoning in the following sentences:
I don't fuse this big wire as it will carry much more current than the bulb filament. Fuses are primarily to protect wiring.....
What if the insulation on that wire gets chafed through and it shorts to ground? I don't see why a fuse at the battery end wouldn't protect the wiring. Sure, the fuse would be sized for the load (say 3 amps) and not the big wire (say 20 amps) - but so what? The fuse would still blow before the whole harness melted down.
 

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The wires are of sufficient quality and the runs are such that there is virtually no possibility of a ground short to the conductor. The risk is trivial.
 

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The wires are of sufficient quality and the runs are such that there is virtually no possibility of a ground short to the conductor. The risk is trivial.
That's what the Director of the CDC is saying about an Ebola outbreak in the US. Let's hope you're both right!
 

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when I rebuilt/ cleaned my wiper motor, all 3 - 4 wires needed to be removed an replaced and re soldered.. the wire do not fray, they crack.. do to age.
 
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