How and When to Replace Your Wipers

November 18, 2010

Wiper blades are seldom thought of except when they are needed - in the rain or snow. After the storm passes they are forgotten again until the next time they are called upon to clear the windshield. Let's depart from that "squeaky wheel gets the grease mentality" and think back to the last time your windshield wipers were slappin' time.

During that last storm did your wipers have any of these problems?

Scratching the glass: There's no way you can procrastinate this one. It's either replace the blade or call the glass shop, It doesn't take long for your windshield to bear the wiping pattern of an exposed frame. If it's in your line of sight, you will be turned down at your next inspection.

Frayed rubber: If the little thin piece of rubber that actually does most of the cleaning peels away from the thicker part of the rubber, replacement is required. Without all of the rubber your sight will be hampered as the faulty blade just smears the windshield as it wipes.

Bent frame: If the superstructure of your wipers is distorted in anyway don't try to straighten it, replace it. The frame is responsible for how the wiper blade contacts the glass. If it is bent or badly worn, the blade will not remove rain or snow of any volume. Gaps created by a distorted frame will cause your vision to be diminished.

Contamination: One encounter with oil or any other petroleum-based fluid and you might as well throw your wiper blades away, since they will never clean properly again.

Mechanical problems: These conditions are not the fault of your blades, but a sign of an underlying problem with the system that drives the wiper blades. If your blades are not synchronized as they wipe or rest on the glass when they are shut off instead of “parking” out of sight, you are experiencing a problem with the wiper arm or wiper transmission and may need the assistance of a professional.

And here are some wiper blade tips that may save you some money:

Always shut the wiper motor off before you shut the engine off. Otherwise if the blades freeze to the window while it is parked, you will damage the motor or blades (possibly both) the next time you start your car.

Raise your wipers off the windshield before you start to clean the window with an ice scraper, so that you don’t harm the blade in the cleaning process.

Always replace the entire wiper–rubber blade and metal frame. It is more costly but makes all the difference and is easier to install in most cases.

The next time you start your car, whether it is raining or the sun is shining, think about those wiper blades and replace them if need be. By the way the Car Care Council suggests that they be replaced every six months. 
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