Windshield Wiper Blade Care Tips
Visibility is fundamental to safe driving. Even though drivers depend on their wiper blades to clear away rain, sleet and snow, many wait to replace them until they need them the most. So remembering to maintain wiper blades regularly can maximize visibility, efficiency and reliability.
Wiper blades deteriorate due to many environmental factors including:
- Sun: Ultraviolet light and ozone deterioration
- Oil: Car waxes and exhaust hold rubber-deteriorating oil
- Airborne debris: Sand, mud and dust carried in the wind
- Moisture: Acid rain and salt water (in moist air both near the shore and inland)
- Streaking occurs when the rubber squeegee dries, hardens and cracks. It can also be caused by tree sap, road tar and other foreign substances collected on either the glass or the blade.
- Skipping occurs when the blade develops a curvature from lack of use (e.g.: left in the 'parked position' for an extended length of time).
- Wearing occurs with extensive use and is when the rubber edges are rounded instead of squared.
- Splitting is caused when the sun's ultraviolet rays penetrate the rubber squeegee, causing it to breakdown and separate from the frame.
- Bent Refill Vertebra and Bent Frames cause inconsistent contact with the glass surface, creating streaking or skipping.
Avoid these common problems and extend the life of your wiper blades by following these simple steps:
- Clean your windshield often and at least every time you fill your gas tank.
- Gently wipe the rubber squeegee with a damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt or oil.
- Never use your windshield wipers to de-ice your windshield. Instead, either use an ice scraper or use your defroster to melt snow and ice.
- Pull your wiper blades away from the windshield during winter months to prevent ice build up on the rubber squeegee and to prevent them from sticking to the windshield.
Wiper blades should be replaced every year or as soon as you notice a squeak, chatter, skip, smear or streak reducing driving visibility.
An easy way to remember to proactively change your wiper blades is to replace them at same time each year. Pick a birthday or other special date that coincides with the beginning of the rainy season.
When inspecting wiper blades, look for the following:
- Broken frame - detachment of frame arms at joints or connection points
- Metal Corrosion - especially at joints and claws
- All joints hinge freely
- Visible cracks, tears, and missing pieces in the rubber squeegee's edge
- Flex rubber squeegee back and forth to see if it is still flexible. Aged squeegees will have difficulty conforming to the shape of your windshield and create streaks.
- Check the squeegee's wiping edge for rounded edges which can prevent the wiper blade from making proper contact with the windshield
- Ensure wiper blades have been securely installed on the wiper frame
If the frame assemblies are in good condition you can save yourself a few dollars by just replacing the rubber wiper blade.
Remember to check your wiper blades as part of your regular preventative maintenance program!