How Often You Should Replace Windshield Wipers
Visibility on the road is so important that the majority of states require that motorists pass basic vision tests before renewing their licenses. However, having 20/20 eyesight doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a clear view of the road ahead! Dust, snow, rain, and even wind can fog up your windshield, and prescription glasses won’t make it any clearer. Luckily, you have wiper blades to help you with that. But with time and use, your wiper blades can wear out and cause more harm than good.
WHEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR WIPER BLADES?
The general rule of thumb is to replace your wiper blades every 6 to 12 months. But depending on where you live and how often you drive, you may need to replace them sooner. The frequency of windshield blade changes also varies depending on the type of blade on your car, with beam wiper blades generally outlasting conventional ones. A good way to keep track of your wiper blade replacement intervals is to get them checked every time you get an oil change!
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF BAD WINDSHIELD WIPERS?
Most experts suggest you replace your wipers on a schedule. Because their lifespan can be decreased by many factors, you should consider swapping out your windshield wipers if you notice any of the following:
- Squeaking noises: Your wiper blades should glide cleanly across a wet surface. If you hear squeaking during operation, that could be an indicator that pieces of the rubber or silicone have been damaged.
- Vibration or chattering noises: Similar to squeaking, a jerking motion or chattering sound happens when your windshield wiper is moving at an uneven rate. The gaps in the blade move faster than the pieces where the wiper contacts your windshield, causing vibration.
- Excessive streaking: Every pass of the wiper should leave a smooth, clear surface. Not only does that make it easier to see, streaks indicate part of the blade has worn away.
- Wet spots: Consider this a more extreme version of streaking. The blade has torn to the point where it no longer wipes away moisture. You effectively no longer have a wiper in those areas. Even if your windshield wipers show none of these signs, you should still change them regularly. This is a cheap part that helps keep you safe.WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T CHANGE YOUR WIPER BLADES?If you don’t use your wipers a lot, it’s easy to forget to change your blades regularly. They may not be as important to your vehicle’s operation as the engine, but bad windshield wipers do cause issues.
In the short term, broken wiper blades don’t clean the windshield as well. This may not be a big problem on a misty morning, but you may not be able to see in heavy rain or snowfall. In the long term, the blades will continue to break down from use and the conditions outside. Eventually, there will be nothing between the metal or plastic of the wiper arm and your windshield. The hard material can scratch your glass, requiring expensive repairs or replacements.
WHAT FACTORS AFFECT WINDSHIELD WIPER LONGEVITY?
Before you can figure out “how often should I change my windshield wipers?” you need to know what influences how long they last. Beyond age itself, these factors can make your wiper blades wear faster or slower:
- Usage: The more often you use your wipers, the more often you need to replace them. The hard glass of your windshield wears down the blades a little bit with every pass, eventually rendering them unable to work.
- Environment: Even areas without precipitation can be hard on windshield wipers. Heat causes the rubber material to expand while cold causes it to contract. Lack of moisture can also cause the blade to crack from dryness. All of these conditions cause the wipers to become brittle, which can lead to breakage.
- Storage: Rubber breaks down when exposed to the UV light from the sun. If your car spends most of the day uncovered, the blade material will weaken.
Beyond parking indoors, there’s only a few things you can do to make your wiper blades last longer. This has more to do with how you use them rather than when
HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR WIPERS LAST LONGER?
As with most car parts, routine maintenance can increase the lifespan of your windshield wipers. Gently cleaning them with rubbing alcohol on occasion can help them last longer. There are a few other steps you can take to preserve them as well.
The largest preventable issue facing your wipers is wear, not time. Make sure your windshield is well-lubricated with water or windshield cleaning fluid every time you use your wipers. This allows the rubber to glide over the glass. Cleaning your windshield regularly can prevent caked-on dirt and grime that damages the rubber blades.
For bird droppings and other hard, stuck-on items, consider scrubbing your glass with a squeegee to save your wipers. If that’s not possible, clean the mess early to minimize build-up. Similarly, frozen snow and ice can do a number on the flexible rubber blades of your wipers. Use a saltwater solution or cool water mixed with rubbing alcohol to melt away ice. Gentle ice scrapers can also remove snow and ice without scratching your glass.
Changing your windshield wipers is the sort of job that anyone can do. It’s an easy process that takes less than a minute. Replacing them often can make the work even easier by not allowing the blades to get stuck on the wiper arms.