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Windshield wipers are an important part of any car. But it can be easy to overlook their maintenance as they’re not utilized that often as compared to other automobile parts. We might also forget to replace them for a long time. Imagine getting stuck in the rain without a working wiper to clear your line of vision. You should replace your windshield wipers before this situation strikes.
As time goes by, wiper blades begin to break down. Even if you don’t use them most of the time, there’s still a deteriorating effect from the outside elements. Eventually, there might not be anything left between the hard plastic or metal material and the windshield. When you try to clean your windshield, the material will cause scratches, resulting in costly replacements or repairs.
It’s worth replacing the windshield wipers before they cause damage or refuse to work when you need them the most. However, the question of how often to replace windshield wipers is still open to debate. Let’s check out some of the answers to this issue and a few others.
How Often to Replace Windshield Wipers
If you ask the manufacturer of windshield wipers, many would suggest that car owners replace the wipers every six months or at least once a year. Some might say that their blades last for a couple of years, but that depends on several factors.
When you change your engine’s oil, you should ask the mechanic to check your wipers’ condition. That way, you’ll have a way to gauge whether they need replacing or not. If this isn’t an option, you might want to replace such components before autumn sets in. This precaution will ensure that you update the wipers regularly before the rainy or snowy season rolls around.
Factors That Affect the Longevity of Windshield Wipers
When you’re thinking about how often to replace windshield wipers, you probably want to get the best value for your hard-earned money. This means that you need to figure out how long your wipers will last. Other than time, here are the factors that can increase or decrease the wear and tear on wiper blades.
Frequency of usage
It’s obvious that the more we use windshield wipers, the quicker they’d need replacement. The glass of car windshields is hard. That’s why it wears the blades down every time you use the wipers. Eventually, the wearing down will result in wipers that either won’t work or damage the windshield.
If your local climate is hot, it can expand the rubber on the windshield wipers. Cold weather, on the other hand, causes the rubber to shrink. If there isn’t much precipitation, the atmosphere can become dry and cause cracks in the blade. All of these extremes lead to a weakening of the blade material, which means they’re more likely to break or wear out.
There are several reasons why concerned car owners cover their vehicles when they’re not in use. One of these is that the covering protects the car components from harmful UV rays. The sunlight can weaken the blade material by breaking down the rubber over time. You can also consider parking indoors as much as possible to make the wiper blades last longer.
How to Know It’s Time to Replace Your Windshield Wipers: The Signs
Replacing windshield wipers on a regulated schedule is a good idea but you should also know the telltale signs of problematic blades. This knowledge will help you swap out the components before they cause any serious damage.
Too much streaking
A wiper should leave you with a smooth and clean surface with each pass. That is its basic function as you need to see properly to drive safely. If the blade leaves streaks behind, you should check if any part is worn out.
Even if they’re gliding on wet glass, the wiper blades shouldn’t squeak. The noise could indicate damaged pieces of silicone and rubber. So, take a look and see if you need to buy a replacement.
Chattering or vibrations
Chattering, jerking movements, or anything similar is also not normal for windshield wipers. These problems arise when the wiper isn’t moving evenly. That might indicate gaps within the blade. The gaps move more quickly than the areas where the wiper is touching the windshield. This leads to that uncomfortable vibration.
These are similar to streaking, but the spots indicate that the blade isn’t even wiping away moisture. Fortunately, windshield wipers are a relatively cheap component to replace. So, don’t take any risks.
Why Material Matters When Buying Windshield Wipers
Most windshield wipers are flexible metal with a rubber coating to prevent damage. Today, you can even get wipers that can clean windshields and also attach them to a car vacuum cleaner to keep the vehicle clean.
The blades here aren’t made of metal but softer material that won’t cause damage. Here are some of the most common materials used for windshield blades.
Natural rubber is still among the most popular options for wiper blades. Though it’s inexpensive, it isn’t as durable as other materials, and it’s vulnerable in extreme climates, friction, mildew, mold, and UV rays. You’ll need to change the blades every six months if you go for this option.
This material gives you more lasting performance. It’s hard enough to resist the heat, UV rays, and other factors that might break down a wiper blade material. This kind of rubber is more useful if you’re in a cold climate. Synthetic rubber blades might last for a year, but you’ll have to keep checking them for any major defects.
This is the longest-lasting material you can use for windshield wiper blades. It resists wear and tears as well as friction, mold, and mildew. It’s not great for using in hotter temperatures, though. Silicone can also leave a film on your windshield that might be distracting while driving. Still, this material can last you a year or even more if the conditions are favorable.
How to Choose the Right Windshield Wipers
One aspect of deciding how often to replace windshield wipers is choosing the best kind of wiper blades out there. Several options are available, and they’re not universal. There are various types of mounting mechanisms which means that they’ll fit different vehicle types.
If you want to ensure that your purchases aren’t useless, you should check out the following factors before buying new windshield wipers:
Know the size you need
An easy way to check your blade size is to look at your windshield. The blade size you require will be just a bit smaller than that. Keep in mind that the wiper blades are available in several sizes and your car might require different sizes on either side. Check the vehicle’s manual and measure your blades. Alternatively, you can consult the staff at your local auto-parts store to get the best fit possible.
Choose the right type
Here are the various types of wiper blades that might suit your vehicle:
Conventional wiper blades
These are the most economical option available. Their metal frames are durable, while the design is geared towards cleaning as much wind and hail as possible in a single wipe.
Conventional winter wiper blades
These blades have the addition of a boot covering, which is an extra layer of rubber on the frame. It helps to avoid buildups of ice and snow to some extent. Unfortunately, such blades don’t confirm their windshield as much as other options. What’s more, they’re not of much use during the summer.
Beam blade wipers
These blades are lightweight and have an aerodynamic design. The latter helps in reducing icy or snowy buildup and wind lifts. The design is frameless, which is great for giving proper protection and avoiding streaking.
You can also have a look at specialty winter beam blades. These blades undergo testing for extreme winter temperatures. They’re made to perform well even when the weather is harsh.
Hybrid wiper blades
These are blades that take the best elements from beam and convention options. You get sturdy metal frames here while the cover is sleek, soft rubber, or a harder plastic. The design is also aerodynamic, so you get the best of both worlds.
Where You Can Order Wipers
You’ll be wasting your time and money if you buy windshield wipers of poor quality. Poor wipers will adversely affect your viability, especially when you’re driving in problematic weather. Luckily, there are quite a few high-quality options available online.
Some examples include Rain-X Latitude, Michelin 8522, and Bosch. The best thing is that Amazon provides a special feature to confirm if the wiper blades fit your vehicle. You can get the perfect size by adding the year, make, and model of your vehicle, and then select the “Check Fit” option.
A car owner can look at the options available online and compare their specifications as well as pricing. What’s more, a decent online retailer will even have a sort of fitment guide. The guide will allow you to get the best possible replacement without risking too much.
How to Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Changing the wiper blades is quite simple. However, it does require confidence; if you lack here, it’s best to go to a professional.
If you want to try the replacement yourself, here are a few tips:
- You can either measure the length of your wiper blade or consult your car’s owner’s manual for this information
- Remove the previous wiper by lifting its arm off the windshield and pressing the tab on its underside; this will help you slide the blade off with a downward pull
- Attach your replacement blade by pulling it tight on the arm until it makes a click
- Run your wipers to check that they’re working without vibrations, jerking, squeaking, streaking, or wet spots
Some Tips to Maintain Your Windshield Wipers
Maintaining windshield wipers can extend their lifespans which is good news for your safety and your pocket. Cleaning them is one of the most important maintenance steps, but there are other ways to preserve those blades.
Let’s have a look at them now.
Lubricate them often
You can prevent your wipers from getting a lot of wear and tear by lubricating them with windshield cleaning fluid or water with each use. This step will allow the blades to easily pass over your windshield.
Clean the windshield
Clean the windshield as often as possible so that there’s no grime or dirt to damage the blades. If there’s something stuck on the glass, you might have to rub it off with a squeegee or any similar tool. Always clean messes as soon as possible.
Clear away the ice
Any ice or frozen snow could harm the blades in windshield wipers. But it’s possible to unfreeze your windshield wiper. You can also remove these with saltwater solutions or a combination of rubbing alcohol and cool water. A gentle ice scraper might also do the trick.
Get Set Go with the New Windshield Wipers!
Choosing, maintaining, and replacing your windshield wipers might be small tasks. However, taking care of details like these will give you peace of mind and lower the risk of getting into accidents. You never know when rain or snow might blur your vision when driving. So, it’s always best to be prepared for any event.
At the end of the day, knowing how often to replace windshield wipers can mean the difference between being stranded in a snowstorm or thunderstorm and managing to get your way safely home. Don’t wait around for too long; investigate those wiper blades as soon as possible.