Did you know your car’s wiper blades should be replaced regularly, regardless of how frequently they’re used? This is because over time blades wear down, which makes them less effective. Not being able to see clearly — during rain, sleet or snowstorms — drastically affects your safety. Being proactive and replacing them before you’re stuck driving in bad weather is the best way to prevent the driving hazard of a blurred view.
Wiper blade replacement should be part of your regular maintenance schedule. If you live in an area where you see snow or ice in the colder seasons, plan to switch out your blades to a winter set every time you mount your snow tires, at the very least. These can handle heavier snowfall and aren’t prone to freezing. When the snow season ends and spring weather begins, you can switch back to a slimmer blade.
Windshield wipers are made from rubber that degrades over time. This causes them to be less effective. Everyday use, UV rays, temperature fluctuations and typical wear and tear cause even the best windshield wipers to deteriorate. This might surprise you, but the ingredients in your windshield washer fluid can also make wiper blades become brittle or crack.
Inspect wipers regularly
To ensure your wipers are always in the best condition possible, it’s necessary to check them regularly. Knowing what signs to look for when they begin to degrade will help you understand when they need to be replaced. Certain signs show you when they need to be retired. These include the following:
Chattering: Blades that vibrate or skip across the windshield aren’t functioning correctly and need to be replaced. Chattering can happen when wipers are used for an extended period or exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
Squeaking: Are your blades speaking to you? Are they loud? This is because old and worn-out blades don’t glide easily over the windshield.
Streaking: If bands of water remain after each wipe, this means the rubber has hardened or cracked due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays, tree sap or road grit and grime.
Smearing: When the wiper edge is no longer sharp, it causes water to smear across the windshield. This can result in cloudy or impaired visibility.
Poor wiping performance doesn’t always mean blades should be replaced. To be extra sure, clean your windshield with a paper towel saturated with windshield wiper fluid. That will help you decide if your blades aren’t working well or if your windshield just needed some good elbow grease.
Good to know: Never use dishwashing soap in your windshield washer reservoir. The surfactants used to clean dishes will break down the rubber blades and can damage your car’s paint finish.
If you’re still unsure or prefer to have a professional inspect them, ask your technician at your next oil change how your wiper blades are doing.
It’s recommended that blades be replaced at least once a year, at the minimum. Ideally, it would be every 6 to 12 months depending on your climate. But some blades can wear out after just 3 months of use. Even the best windshield wipers will wear out. Wipers aren’t meant to last a lifetime, or even past a year of use!
Happy — and safe — travels!