Saturn Ion Windshield Wiper Linkage / Wiper Transmission Repair / How to replace Broken Saturn Ion Wiper Transmission

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It has become apparent to us recently that the Saturn Ion has a rather large engineering flaw. The critically important Windshield Wiper Transmission (The linkage assembly which connects the wiper motor to the wiper blade arms) has a flaw which in my opinion should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. One of the hinges which allows the wipers to pivot is made of PLASTIC! Over time, this plastic hinge becomes brittle and will eventually snap, causing failure of the wiper blades. If your wipers fail at the wrong time, this could lead to a serious safety situation. Imagine driving down the interstate at 60+ MPH in a heavy rainstorm, and suddenly your wipers just stop working.

In my opinion, this is a serious engineering blunder. I can only assume that the intentions of making this very important linkage hinge out of plastic was to save a couple dollars on the assembly line. But is a couple dollars worth risking the safety drivers? Luckily, we at APDTY have a solution. We carry a replacement wiper transmission which has METAL hinges, like they should have been from the factory. This replacement part has a lifetime warranty and is guaranteed to never fail on you. The replacement of this part is not extremely difficult and is achievable by almost anyone with some basic mechanical skill.

Here is a shot of the upgraded metal hinge:

upgraded metal saturn ion pivot

The basic steps are outlined below:

1) Remove the Windshield Wiper Arm Nut Covers.

2) Remove the Windshield Wiper arm Nut.

Saturn_Ion_Wiper_nut

3) Remove the wiper arms, If the arms do not come off easy there is a specialty tool available designed to pull the wiper arm off.

4)  Remove the Air inlet grille panel (Cowl Panel) by removing the push-pin fasteners and then lifting up and disconnecting the wiper fluid hose.

Saturn_Ion_Wiper_Cowl_Panel_removal

5)  Disconnect the wiring connector from the windshield wiper motor.

6) Remove the bolts that attach the whole wiper transmission/motor assembly to the car. Remove the whole assembly (Wiper Motor and Transmission Linkage) From the vehicle.

7)  Remove the Wiper Motor Crank Arm Nut. (The nut which comes out of the center of the wiper motor) and remove the crank arm from the motor.

8 ) Remove the bolts which attach the wiper motor to the transmission/linkage assembly and remove wiper motor from the assembly.

9) Install the wiper motor onto the new transmission/linkage assembly. Install the crank-arm and crank-arm nut.

10) Reverse removal instructions to install the assembly and cowl panel back into the vehicle.

11) Reinstall Wiper blade arms, be sure that the wiper motor is in full park position (where they sit when the wiper switch is off), align the wiper arms and tighten the wiper arm retaining nut.

Written By Joe Stepnicka

Joe

ASE Certified Technician

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41 Responses

  1. Stacy says:

    Thank you so much for the picture under #7 with the yellow stated that needed to be placed in that direction. We have been working on the car for 2hrs and looked at the picture and realized we did not have it the correct way. It was so much helped. It is fixed now. Thanks

    • terry says:

      thanks for the pics just a few added tips i struggled with this for 3 hours [ make shure the wiper shaft linkage arms are pointing towards the engine,and are both on the same side.also the linkage arm thats on the output shaft needs to be pointing towards the driver side. install parts ass normal.

    • Dan says:

      I have a 2004 ion, where do I find this specialty tool? Why was one not supplied with the car?

  2. Phil says:

    In step 4, Removal of the push pins for the Cowl removal, middle two are actual bolts and outer two are the push pins. Are the push pins removed by prying off or lifting the cowl over the pin? Took a look last night. Can’t wait to get my new part

    Thanks

  3. Sunny says:

    Hi i did all the instructions and i just have one problem. When i was done installing the wiper and tried it out the off position is half way up my windshield and does not go down when i switch it off. I do not know what to do .}???

  4. John says:

    Easy to install just make sure you adjust the linkage assembly on the wiper arm assembly to sync with the wiper motor itself. You will have to loosen the nut and adjust the linkage several times before you get it just where you need it. Great product and good instructions.

  5. Kyle says:

    I have the unit back in and wipers installed however when I turn it on they don’t move. I hear the motor running. Any idea why the wipers don’t move??

  6. Dave says:

    Got my part and installed today… Couldn’t disconnect the power from the motor, so i did everything while motor still connected to car. Got everything done first try. Should note that, Torx T30 bit i s required to remove motor from assembly, and 13mm wrench for nut attaching to motor shaft.

  7. chuck says:

    *****Play close attention to step 7 This is the corrent orientation of the motor crank arm when reassembling. *****

    It will save you valuable time

    Thanks for the help

  8. Tom Grant says:

    This was a great article that really helped to make the installation a lot easier!

    Your new, improved replacement wiper mechanism is great and looks like it will outlive the old OEM part that had plastic ends.

    I took photos during my installation, and posted them on my blog. http://www.tgrantphoto.com/blog/archives/295

    Thanks again for supplying the part and the fast shipping was appreciated!

  9. Kevin says:

    Bless you for the picture after step #7. This 20 minute repair had taken me over 4 hours and installed about 5 times before I resorted to the internet. Turns out my linkage was “inside out” so-to speak, so the passenger side wiper was getting ahead of the driver’s side wiper. Without the picture, I don’t think I would have ever figured it out.

  10. Pat says:

    Had major problems screwing in/threading the nuts that hold the wiper arms down to the new assembly.Mine ended up shearing the new wiper stud off.

  11. mob555 says:

    yes pic #7 really helped out for alignment , only had to re do it 3 times , before the pic 4th time was a charm !!!!!

  12. CK Armstrong says:

    I had to replace the complete assembly but the instrustions were a great help. It took about 45 min to get back in place and running.

  13. matt says:

    you guys suck I can’t get that darn arms off the transmission! Arggh! This has to be the worst parts of this project.

  14. Tom says:

    Took 13 mm nut off top of wiper motor shaft, they won’t come off, only thing to pry against is windshield, not advised, how do I buy special tool?
    Thanks, Tom

  15. Brad says:

    I wish I would have seen this site before. THe connector to the wiper motor comes off very hard and I ended up cracking it. My nut from the transmission to the motor keeps comming loose. When I put everything back together my wiper motor only works on high.

  16. Brett says:

    I bought it. It’s a great replacement product, HOWEVER, the threading was not done properly on the driver side wiper bolt, so I am unable to reattached the wiper. Still waiting on a reply from APDTY..

  17. denise says:

    where do you buy the replacement wiper transmission that is metal. have had to replace my wiper arm every two years

  18. Scott says:

    Thanks for the picture under number 7. I was racking my head attempting to figure it out. With that picture, done in 20 minutes.

  19. Tim Rheingold says:

    Could someone please send me picture number seven!! I can’t get the picture on this website, and I am reading a lot of comments indicating that this particular pic. was helpful with the installation of a new wiper transmission with the Saturn Ion.

  20. Melissa says:

    how do you get the wiper arms off if the specialty tool does not work? I have been trying for days and have broken numerous “specialty” tools and still can’t get the arms off…HELP!!!!

    • Shawn says:

      To get wiper arms off, I used Lisle 54150 Battery Terminal and Wiper Arm Puller (available from amazon).

      But, the thing is you have to wear thick gloves or wrap the crank with some towels or cloth to allow you to turn it at the end when it requires high pressure. Make sure the under-side grips on the removal tool are tight and the center bolt pusher is centered over the wiper bolt.

      My Saturn ion car was 9 years old; so, I can say that it was difficult removing the wiper blades the first time. In subsequent tries, it was much easier.

      Lastly, make sure you pay attention to the diagram in #7 when installing the motor on the new wiper transmission assembly (like others have said). I didn’t do that and the wipers were not stopping in the right position and hitting the cow cower when in motion. It took me an extra hour to fix that.

      Shawn, Pennsylvania.

      • Shawn says:

        Also, pay attention to the picture in #6 to see the correct position of the linkage when the motor is installed.

        If your wipers are slightly misaligned, you do not have
        to start over, but can loosen the wiper arm nut and
        adjust the wipers slightly – before re-tightening.

        Mine is working now. I installed it today.

        As a side note, not buying this earlier almost cost me
        my life. As my earlier DIY repair on the old assembly caused the wipers to fail in the middle of the night on a highway in bad weather.

        Hope that helps.

      • Shawnna says:

        The battery terminal puller saves a lot of time…

  21. Tony says:

    I had a lot of trouble getting the wiper arms off. BTW – thanks for the tip about putting the nut on the end of the stud to keep from peening the threads – I’m sure that saved me a lot of extra work and frustration!

    I ended up using a small gear puller I got at a local Tractor Supply store. It had a small point on the end of the shaft, so I carefully drilled a small dimple in the center of the shaft where the wiper arm mounts. This helped keep the gear puller in place. Even so, it took several hours over the course of 3 days to get both arms off. I put a shot of penetrating oil on the arms every night, tapped them with a hammer, etc. The passenger side arm came off on the 2nd night. The driver’s side was tougher, but came off last night. I ended up putting the gear puller on it, tightening it some so it had some tension on it, and walking away for an hour or so. When I came back, it took only a little bit of work to pop it loose. Success!

    I got the replacement linkage this morning, and plan to put it back on tonight. There’s no wiper motor on the new linkage, but I hope that transferring the old one over won’t be too difficult.

  22. Tony says:

    I got the new wiper transmission installed last night, and it works great. Pay close attention to the position of the crank arm in picture 7, especially how it relates to the support bracket. I somehow positioned the assembly with the 2 holes in the bracket facing away from me, instead of towards me as the illustration shows. When I tested the wipers, they parked with the arms positioned vertically. I pulled the assembly, reversed the crank arm, and it worked just fine.

    Oh, one other caution – when standing in the door and reaching in to test the wiper, be sure to NOT hit the wiper fluid squirter. It’ll squirt right up into your face, and the stuff really tastes awful! Trust me on this…

  23. Tom says:

    This is great information. However, there is another possibility:

    After removing the motor/transmission assembly, I found that the motor and gears in the transmission were fine…the splines on each of the wiper arms had stripped. This makes sense now that I think of it, since the driver side quit first, followed by the passenger side.

    Anyway, thanks for the troubleshooting tips and hopefully this helps someone else.

  24. Matthew says:

    I have completed the replacement of the transmission, but am having difficulty reattaching one of the wiper arms to the post. One of the nuts will not thread on to the wiper post. The driver’s side attached with no problem, but passenger did not. I even bought new nuts (13mm), but had the same problem. I believe the post itself may be stripped. Is there a recommended repair for this? I’d rather not replace the entire transmission again just for this.

  25. Jaz says:

    Thanks for #7 I almost bought a new motor due to a video on your tube putting that the opposite way. Wasted 4 hours wish I would have seen this first!

  26. Kelby says:

    So I had to replace the whole windshield wiper assembly on my 03 Saturn ion. It only took about 10 minutes to replace the old one but took all day to get the windshield wipers to work properly. I have watched videos and have read this article explaining how to install the assembly but still no luck. The problem I’m having is that whenever I turn he windshield wipers on they want to go down towards the hood of the car instead of going up and side to side like it should. I took the wipers off and adjusted the crank arm and got the passenger side to work properly but the driver side wiper is going the opposite direction and collides with the passenger side wiper. Please help what can I do to get the wipers in the correct sync. They are working against each other it seems like. Thanks

  27. jim says:

    Could the author add the torque spec for the wiper arm nuts?

    Note to everyone else: make sure you re-install those wiper arm nut covers. No one wants that nut to corrode/rust solid to the shaft (except possibly the next mechanic to “touch” it whilst thinking of the new fishing rig he can afford after this repair! LOL ^_^).

  28. Jerome says:

    Hello,

    Not cler enough for me here. follow picture 7, but know that you must let the wiper motor set in the off position, turn off the car. Now the yellow highlighted piece in the picture connects to a bolt that is the spinning “rotor”. Do not move this “rotor” piece, take off the nut(without moving the “rotor bolt), position the yellow piece as the pic says without moving that bolt (rotor). now tighten, without moving that bolt(rotor). install as shown. Install wipers as low as they will go as the picture shows under 11. you may have to put the wiper on multiple times to “calibrate” their position. should be set at this point. Long day for me, got it done though. Much respect to mechanics, vehicles can be a rabbit hole of problems.

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