Automatic Windshield Washer Control Circuit

Most, if not all, recent cars have an impressive amount of electronics, whether it be ABS brake systems, engine control with injection calculators, airbag activation, or other various functions, called comfort functions. Among them is one which we tend to forget because it has become so common today. It turns on the windshield wipers automatically for a few seconds after the windshield cleaner. This practice is almost indispensable because it avoids any dripping of excess rinse product right in the middle of a just-cleaned windshield.
Unfortunately, many ‘low end’ cars or some of the older cars are not equipped with this automatic function which is a very nice convenience to have. So, since all that is required is a handful of components that any electronics hobbyist worthy of the name already has in his/her drawer, we will discuss the circuit proposed here.
This project is super simple and simply keeps the windshield wiper activated for a few seconds after the windshield washer control contact has been released. While the windshield washer pump is operating, the 12 volts delivered by the battery are present at the terminals and are therefore charging capacitor C1. Once the windshield washer has stopped, this capacitor can only discharge through R2, P1, R3, and the T1 emitter-base junction, due to the presence of diode D1. It thus keeps T1 in the conductive state during a certain time, the exact period of which depends on the setting of P1. T1 in turn saturates T2, which then does the same for T3.
Circuit diagram:
Automatic Windshield Washer Control Circuit Diagram
The Re1 relay is therefore connected which maintains the windshield wiper in operation because its work contact is wired in parallel to the control switch. Once C1 is sufficiently discharged, T1 is blocked, which then blocks T2 and T3 and deactivates relay Re1. The type of components is not really critical, even if we indicate specific reference numbers for T3, any low-power npn transistor with a gain over 25 will work. However, considering the amount of power consumed by the windshield wiper motor, relay Re1 will imperatively be an ‘automobile’ relay.
You can find very low-priced ones at many car accessory shops (and even at some component retailers). These relays maintain contact under 12 volts and often do not have more than one work contact but they are, in general, capable of cutting off about 20 amps. Finally, the only delicate point of this project is to properly identify the control wire for the windshield pump on one hand, and the windshield wiper motor on the other. Observing what is happening at the various connections with a simple voltmeter, should get it right without too much difficulty.
Author: Christian Tavernier  Copyright: Elektor Electronics