When you think “vehicle maintenance,” the windshield wipers would probably be the last thing you think about. Though easy to forget about, they should not be ignored. Visibility is essential for being able to drive safely, which means we need to make sure our wipers are in shape, and replaced when needed.
Inspecting Wiper Blades
The wiper blade experts at RainX recommend you look for the following when inspecting your blades:
- Broken frame – detachment of frame arms at joints or connection points.
- Metal Corrosion – especially at joints and claws.
- 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 squeegee wiping edge for rounded edges which can prevent the wiper blade from making strong contact with the windshield and reduces wipe quality.
- Tug to ensure wiper blade has been securely installed on the wiper arm.
- Check that squeegee is secure in the wiper frame.
Common Wiper Problems and When to Replace
The most common windshield wiper problems as described by the experts at RainX are:
- 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.
*All the above reduce visibility and slow reaction time while driving.
Wiper blades should be checked every six months and changed at least once a year, or whenever you notice a decrease in visibility. Replace wipers immediately if you notice streaking, skipping or bouncing, splitting, or squeaking. These things indicate that the wiper blades are no longer maintaining proper contact with the windshield.
What Causes Wiper Blades to Deteriorate?
Several environmental factors can cause the blades to deteriorate, including:
- Ultraviolet light and ozone deterioration
- The Arizona heat is exceptionally hard on wiper blade rubber and can cause it to break down and dry out quickly
- Oils from car waxes and exhaust are rubber-deteriorating
- Airborne debris such as sand, mud and dust
- Moist air consisting of acid rain and/or salt water
Tips to Extend the Life of Your Wiper Blades
The experts at RainX offer these tips to help extend the life of your wiper blades:
- Clean your windshield 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.
When Wiper Blade Replacement Isn’t Enough
If you have just replaced your wiper blades and are still experiencing problems, you may be wondering what exactly is going on. A common issue that windshield wipers experience has nothing to do with the blades themselves. When there is a problem with the windshield wiper motor, you’ll notice that your windshield wipers work perfectly fine on the low speeds, but begin to malfunction at higher speeds – wipers only rise up and down approximately four inches, and when the wipers are shut off, they do not sink to the appropriate spot. The electrical components controlling the windshield wipers are in the wiper motor, and occasionally these electrical components go bad. Your trusted mechanic can easily help you solve this problem.
Make sure you include windshield wiper checks in your regular maintenance routine. Having reliable wiper blades is as important to a vehicle’s safe operation as good tires and brakes. As always, you can contact Virginia Auto Service for any of your car maintenance needs.