Fix + Fast
by David Shiraki (Honolulu, HI)
This will fix most 1996-2000 Caravans’ (and Voyagers’ and Town & Countrys’) intermittently functioning front wipers, without purchasing the expensive BCM (Body Control Module). You will have low and high wiper speeds and retain the use of the original wiper switch, but will lose the intermittent speeds. Some soldering skills are needed.
Before attempting this repair, try to have a dealer do it under warranty, even if your car is out of warranty.
You should be able to get wiring diagrams through your local library, by the selecting Auto Repair Reference Center. Select your car year, make, model and engine size. Select the wiring diagram and wiper, and print the diagram. The dark green/red wire (Mux) to wiper switch was actually dark green/yellow in my van.
Before working on anything electrical, remove the negative battery terminal from the battery. This will prevent shorting out any wires or circuits — and may save you from injury or worse.
First, remove the three screws for the plastic covers (2) that are around the steering column and covering the wiper switch. Unsnap the covers and remove them. Now, remove the two screws that hold the wiper switch assembly to the steering column and unplug the wire connector from the assembly.
Now, the switch assembly needs to be taken apart. You need to remove the three small Torx screws from the side that shows copper through the plastic holes. Pry any plastic retaining nubs and carefully lift the side up and off. Be careful, because there is one spring for the emergency light switch and a white actuator arm for that switch that can pop out or fall off. Also, if you turn it upside down, all the sliding contact assemblies could fall out. Save yourself some time and thinking by using caution and taking your time. You should now see the circuit board (attached to it).
When looking at the circuit board, you will see a bunch of segmented contacts with solder joints. You need to get a thin, bare wire and short all the solder joints closest to the flat segmented contacts. This is done by heating the solder points as you hold the wire on them (add solder as needed). This will eliminate any of the resistors from the switch operation. Now, with a sharp knife, you need to cut the trace that is attached to the first segment (segment is closest to one edge of the board). This will separate the segment from the rest. Prevents the shorting of the dark green/yellow wire (Mux) and the black/white wire (sw. sense) when the wiper switch is in the OFF position. Find the solder point marked GND and solder a thin insulated wire across that point and the Sense solder point (black/white wire contact). This will supply constant ground to the wiper delay relay when the wiper is in any position other than OFF. You can now reassemble the switch.
To verify that you’ve done it correctly, attach an ohm meter across the dark green/yellow wire contact and the black/white wire contact. Operate the wiper switch from OFF to HI. You should see a short from all positions except for OFF. Now check that you have a constant short between the black/white wire contact and the black wire contact. The black wire supplies the ground. You can now reattach the switch to the steering column and reconnect the wire connector.
For the next step, it is best you remove the plastic kick panel below the steering column. This is done by removing five screws. Two lower screws, one on the left side and two screws holding the parking brake handle. Now pull the panel slightly up and out. Two top tension clips will pop out and the panel will be loose. You need to remove the parking brake cable from the handle by lifting the black rubber grommet up and then sliding the wire to the right. Now the panel should be completely detached from the console.
Next, you need to remove the metal kick panel support plate by removing all 10mm short bolts and one screw.
Now, look at the fuse box and remove three 11mm long bolts (two from the right side and one on the left). You should now be able to pull the fuse box (and BCM) towards you a little and then lift up. You should now have ample clearance at the bottom of the BCM to detach the two multi-pin connectors. This is done by pushing a thin plastic clip and pulling the connector down. Move the connectors to the right.
Let’s work on the right connector. Remove the black tape from around the wires leading to the connector (about 3 – 6 inches). Keep this tape, because you will need to rewrap the cable with it. Look for the dark green/yellow and the black/white wires. Cut both wires. Strip the ends closest to the connector and join them together by soldering. If you have heat shrink tubing, cover the bare connection and heat shrink it. If not, tape it with electrical tape. This will short the Mux. Signal and the Switch Sense wires together, fooling the BCM to believe the wiper switch is in the OFF position. Now get a length of insulated wire and attach one end to the loose dark green/yellow wire coming from the wiper switch. Heat shrink or tape the connection. Wrap the cable with the saved tape removed previously, leaving the wire you attached, dangling.
Now, let’s work on the left connector. Again, remove about 3 – 6 inches of tape from the connector and cable. Look for the red/violet wire and cut it. Wire goes from BCM to the wiper delay relay. Strip both ends and solder them together with the other end of the loose wire coming from the right connector. This will supply ground to the wiper delay relay, through the wiper switch and retaining the BCM’s ability to park the wiper motor. Heat shrink or tape the connection. Wrap the connector and cable.
Reassemble all the assemblies and panels/covers. Reattach the negative battery terminal to the battery. Start your vehicle or turn ON ignition. Test your wipers. You should have low speed throughout the intermittent ranges and high speed in the high position. You should also have the washer function and the wipers should park properly, at a savings of $350-500.
Donations are glad accepted by David Shiraki (use this address for PayPal). Hope it saves you some bucks and a lot of headache. It sure caused me a lot of sleepless nights!
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