How to Extend the Life of Your Windshield Wiper BladesMaintenance Tips Nov 3rd, 2017
We’ve all been here: cruising down the road in a middle of a wet snow flurry. The visibility is becoming less than ideal. You strategically lower the volume of the radio so you can see better. You flip on the wipers only to be left trying to peer through narrow streaks of clear windshield while squinting for a better view.
Our windshield wipers are often our first defense against unsafe driving practices. The wipers enable us to physically see through the rain, sleet, snow, dirt, and dust of the roadways, providing clarity and confidence. In this sense, when our wipers are negatively affected by the ravages of time and good ole wear and tear, it’s as much a safety concern as bad brakes – without wipers we couldn’t see when to brake – meaning that knowing how to extend the life of your windshield wipers is critical to inspiring safety and confidence on the road, both for you and your passengers, as well as other drivers on the road.
In this post, we’ll reveal a few helpful tips on how to preserve the integrity of your current wiper blades, as well as when to know you should be swapping them out for a new set.
Make Sure Your Windshield is Clean
A smooth, clean windshield is ultimately going to obstruct your wipers less than a windshield that’s routinely covered in mud, dust, ice, or debris, making a clean windshield an effective preserver of your wiper blades. Consider making it a ritual to clean your windshield with cleaner and a squeegee every time you stop to fill up with gas.
Further, make it a routine to keep a spare jug of windshield wiper fluid in your trunk or hatch. For whatever reason, many drivers feel that refilling the washer fluid reservoir is an optional, or unimportant maintenance requirement – which leads to putting it off for weeks, and even months. When you use your rubber wipers on a dry, potentially hot surface, you’ll be encouraging your wipers to deteriorate, so make sure your wiper fluid tank is filled to at least half at all times to ensure you have the capability to clean your windshield whenever you need to.
Scrape Away Ice and Snow
Never, ever use your wipers to de-ice your windshield in the winter. You’ll only encourage the cold, dry rubber to crack and break away, resulting in skipping, general wear, and streaking. Take the time before you leave the house, or the work parking lot to clean your windshield of ice and snow before you leave using a scraper, or a brush.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Nothing dehydrates and deteriorates rubber like direct sunlight. Avoiding the onslaught of the midday sun is a small step that contributes to saving your windshield wipers in a big way. The UV rays of the sun will inevitably cause the rubber of your windshield wipers to dry up over time, causing them to crack, which will ultimately lead to streaks and efficient cleaning.
Tricks of the Trade
- Applying rubbing alcohol to the blade of each wiper will do two things: one, it will clean any and all debris from the wiper blade itself, helping to maintain an abrasive-free clean when you use your wipers, and two: excess grime on the blades will cause streaking and annoying squeaking noises. Clean your blades with rubbing alcohol once per month to help avoid these issues.
- Rub some fine to medium grit sandpaper on the blade of your wipers to help reveal freshened rubber that will make contact with your windshield. When you gently rub away old gritty rubber, you will eave a softer, more flexible, and more forgiving wiper blade.
- Elevating your wiper at the base hinge and leaving the blades in the air overnight ensures that there is less chance of debris to build-up on the blade. In the morning when you head out, simply place the wipers back down onto the glass for the day. This is particularly handy in winter when ice and snow can build up and tug on the rubber blades of your wipers in the morning. Elevating them ensures they’re clean and ready to go.
- Turn your wipers off when you don’t need them! We’re all guilty of leaving our wipers on after it’s stopped raining, but staying on top of the weather minimizes the risk of wiper deterioration when you don’t need them. If it’s not raining, snowing, or dusty outside, resist the urge to spray and wipe your windshield.
Wipers may not be an expensive repair in the grand scheme of things, but remember: basic maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle ensures that you adopt a sense of priority for keeping your vehicle in good working order – plus, windshield wipers are a critically important piece of safety equipment on every car, ensuring that drivers can see clearly, and effectively, in all types of inclement weather. Keeping your wipers in good working order helps all of us stay safe on our roads.