When to Replace Your Car's Windshield Wiper Blades

Published: 10/22/2010 by AutoShopit

When to Replace Your Car's Windshield Wiper Blades

It is not surprising for a lot of vehicle owners to unknowingly neglect their wiper blades.  More often than not, these vehicle parts are only given the attention they need when it's already too late, and they are already damaged beyond repair. This should not be the norm, since damaged wiper blades may obstruct a clear view when driving and may lead to unfortunate accidents. When performing car maintenance checks, make sure that you give proper attention to the wiper blades as this may save you from a costly trip to an auto shop.

So how do you know when the right time is to replace your wiper blades? Determining the right time to replace your wiper blades can be as easy as looking for obvious signs that the blades are nearing the end of their lives. Generally speaking, car maintenance professionals suggest that wiper blades be changed anywhere from six months to a year. The following signs will also tell you that it’s time for your wiper blades to rest and be replaced with a brand-new set.  If you are unsure you can always ask your local car mechanic when you are in for your regular car maintenance check up. 

  • Crack or Split Blades – If you see that the wiper blades have portions that have split or cracked, it is time to replace them with new ones. Extremely cold temperatures have the tendency to make rubber (the material wiper blades are made of) brittle and hard, causing the blades to become cracked or to split. If your vehicle is often exposed to cold weather, it is a good idea to check the wiper blades checked regularly, so the replacements can be done as soon as possible; installation of “winter blades” is also a good option.
  • Skipping Blade Movement – Turn on your wiper blades, and observe how they move. If the blades make a skipping movement and halt in their path every few seconds or so, it is time to replace the wiper blades.
  • Streaking/Smearing – When the wiper blades leave smears or streaks on your windshield when they are turned on, it is time to seriously think about having them replaced at the earliest possible time. The smears and streaks may seem to be a small issue; however, that will not be the case when you are driving in a sudden downpour, and are heavily relying on your wiper blades to provide you with the visibility you need to drive safely.
  • Uneven Wiper Blade Edge – This can be caused by a number of factors, such as normal wear and tear, road grime, dust, insects and other abrasives. The edge of the wiper blades need to be as straight as possible to be able to give the most effective wiping action, so uneven edges can and will result to poor wiping results.
  • Inflexible Wiper Blades – Prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays can cause the eventual hardening of the rubber wiper blades, which will then make them lose their natural flexibility. This prevents the wiper blades from following the curve of the windshield, leaving areas that will not be wiped efficiently.

Make it a habit to check on your wiper blades every couple of months so you will know exactly when to replace them. Checking on the wiper blades will not take up much of your time, and will certainly not cost you anything – but this practice can be one of the best things you can do for your own driving safety. You should not wait for the time when you crucially need the wiper blades to do their work efficiently only to discover in a big storm that they are not working properly.  Consciously keep in mind how important your wiper blades are so you can give them the attention they need and replace them when it's their proper time. 

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