How Often Should You Replace Windshield Wipers?
Windshield wipers are a critical piece of the puzzle for safe driving. Rain and snow are the two biggest reasons our vehicles need wipers, but bugs and dust are among other things that require good wipers.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get away with changing your windshield wipers once a year. However, if it’s a cold climate, you’ll be looking at changing wipers every 6 months because of the extra wear and tear.
This article will give you a few tips on the signs of worn-out wipers and provide you with some helpful information on choosing the correct wipers.
Signs of Worn-Out Windshield Wipers
There are several signs that your wipers are wearing out. Most are self-evident, but some are not always obvious. Regularly inspecting your blades helps you know when to change them before any of these signs become problematic.
- Skipping or “chattering”: As the wiper wears out over time due to weather and use, the wiper’s blade will not glide along the windshield. It almost skips or “chatters” side-to-side. Non-silicone wipers are especially vulnerable to this.
- Smudging: Another sign that the edge of the wiper blade is wearing out is when it smudges rather than wipes. This happens as the edge becomes rounded with use instead of sharp.
- Streaking: Exposure to the sun is a downfall of windshield wiper blades. Over time, the edge begins to dry up and crack. When this happens, the wiper will leave water streaks in its path. Silicone wipers are a bit more resilient to this but not immune.
- Squeaking: You might just think that a windshield wiper squeaks when the windshield is dry. However, as the wipers wear out, they will squeak even when wet.
Choosing the Right Windshield Wipers
Although it’s not complicated, there are several options to consider when purchasing new windshield wipers. In addition to getting the correct length of wiper for your vehicle, there are several choices for the type.
- Conventional Blades: Conventional blades are available in summer and winter options. The main difference is that the winter option has a rubber “boot” that covers the frame of the wiper. This cover helps prevent the buildup of snow and ice on the wiper. Because of their design, a conventional winter blade is not suitable for summer use.
- Beam Blades: Beam blades are also available for multiple seasons. You can even get all-season beam blades. Because of their lightweight and aerodynamic design, they hug your windshield well. If you live in the extreme cold, you can get special winter beam blades suitable for temperatures as low as -40°.
- Hybrid Blades: As the name suggests, these blades combine some of each type of blade’s best features and are available as winter or summer wipers.
In addition to the type of wiper you buy, you’ll also want to be mindful of the blade’s material and if it’s replaceable. Two common materials for wiper blades are rubber and silicone.
Also, some expensive wipers even have changeable blades where you just change the rubber or silicone edge. However, this is becoming less common nowadays.
FAQ: Windshield Wiper Maintenance
What happens if you don’t change the windshield wiper?
If your windshield wiper wears out to the point that it falls off the wiper arm, not being able to wipe water or snow won’t be your biggest problem. Because most wiper arms are made from aluminum or other metals, they can scratch or crack your windshield if suddenly there is no silicone blade.
Can I just change the wiper blade?
Most windshield wipers nowadays do not have changeable blades and require you to change the whole wiper. However, price-wise, they are comparable. So, even the rare ones where you can change just the blade, you don’t really save any money.
How can I make my windshield wipers last longer?
Several things go into making windshield wipers last longer. The biggest thing you can do is purchase high-quality wipers from the get-go. These wipers will use a good rubber or silicone able to withstand time and the elements.
Cleaning the blades and treating them with a rubber protectant can help prolong their life as well.
So, while there is no perfect answer, you can expect to change your windshield wipers every 6 to 12 months. Of course, there are things you can do to make them last as long as possible, but you will inevitably be changing them. Luckily, replacing the windshield wipers is a pretty inexpensive part of owning a vehicle.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay