Vacuum Wipers

Most people don’t like vacuum wipers.  You don’t have more than one speed, and most of them don’t work at all, or, if they do, they work very poorly.   I can’t help you with the one speed thing, but I can tell you how to get them working.  Yes, you can replace them with electric.  However, the electric units commonly available today are not very strong and the gears inside them tend to break.  If you can find the original Jeep® top-mount electric wipers* then that is a definite option.

*Note: I wanted to try and retain my vac style wipers for originality on my Jeep, however, since Binky is a daily driver I finally located and installed some “real” Jeep electric units.  For the hardy few who are still running vacs the pages on vacuum wipers are still here.

The first step in getting vacuum wipers to work is to have a healthy vacuum system on the vehicle!  Sounds simple, but if you have vacuum problems you will never get the wipers to work.  Check all the vacuum lines, and replace any that are bad.  Vacuum hose is so cheap I recommend you replace all of it which is what I did.  It’s simple to do in an old Jeep.

Next, check your fuel pump.  On these older Jeeps the fuel pump has a section on it that helps to “power” the wipers when there is insufficient manifold vacuum available.  Also check your PCV valve for any problems or leaks.

Once all that is done, you are ready to remove, clean and re-lube your wiper motors (yes, they call them “motors”).

1. Wiper Installed
Here is where we start.  The wipers are on the vehicle.   Remove the wiper blades and the windshield hood rests.

NOTE: be very careful not to force anything or lose any parts!  These units are about 35+ years old now.  You can’t go to Checker and get a new part for these things.
2. Blade Mount and Nut Removal
Using a small nail, insert it into the shaft hole to hold the shaft stationary while gently loosening the removable nut.  The nut and knurled blade mount piece should come right off.  The knurled mount is made up of 2 pieces.   These may or may not separate.  Just be looking for 2 pieces while removing them so you don’t lose anything.  Once you get the blade mount off you can remove the wiper motor easily.
3. Components
Once you get the unit off, take it apart carefully using a screwdriver and regular pliers for the odd little screws they used to hold these together.   The unit at left was not working when I got it a few weeks ago.  With a good cleaning and re-lube I was able to get it back to running condition.

NOTE: If you have a broken or missing part, you will not be able to fix your wiper motor without a “donor” motor to supply parts!
4. On/Off “Switch”
You can take the on/off “switch” apart now too if it’s working hard or feels like it’s sticking.  Clean and re-lube sparingly with wheel bearing grease.
5. Old Lube
Let’s take a closer look at the most common problem in these old wipers: old, wax-like grease.  This stuff used to be soft wheel bearing grease but has dried up over the years.
6. Dry
This particular unit was generally dry causing it not to move easily.  Essentially it was a non-functional wiper to begin with.