When it comes to vehicle maintenance, larger components such as the engine and transmission seem to garner the most attention, and rightly so. However, it’s also important to maintain the smaller components performing big tasks such as headlights, turn signals, and windshield wipers. Think about it. Without functioning headlights you’d be left in the dark, without turn signals you may anger other drivers—not to mention earn a traffic violation, and finally, without windshield wipers, you wouldn’t be able to see during a storm. Though small, yes, your windshield wipers perform a mighty task. Here’s how to get the most performance from your windshield wipers.
Which Wipers Should You Pick?
Windshield wipers come in a variety of sizes and styles even on the same make and model of a car. Small wiper blades can cost as little as $10 while larger sizes can cost over $25. There are many types of wiper blades to choose from. So what are the best windshield wipers? It comes down to personal preference and how they’ll be utilized.
Conventional – These are the wiper blades that came from the factory when your vehicle was purchased. These wipers are attached to a metal frame and apply pressure using springs.
Beam Blades – Introduced in the early 2000s, these wiper blades are not attached to a metal frame, making them more flexible and have better contact with the curve of your windshield, producing a better wipe.
Hybrid Blades – Hybrid blades are a mix of the conventional and beam blades. While they’re more aerodynamic and have the same all-weather wiping efficiency of a beam blade, they also have defined pressure points for superior wiping performance.
While those who live in snowy conditions are better off using winter blades, it may not be necessary for your vehicle. If you want higher performance wipers, you should expect to pay the higher price for a sleeker look. Otherwise, standard wipers are sufficient for clearing your windshield during rainstorms. Sound, streaking, and effectiveness of cleaning apply more to how they’re taken care of over the material or your willingness to pay more. Cleaning your wiper blades regularly with a damp cloth to remove dirt or residue can increase performance.
How To Care for Your Windshield Wipers
Replace Every 6 Months
It’s recommended to replace your wiper blades every six months. Hot and dry conditions can wear out wiper blades just as it would with regular use. Consider replacing them in the fall and spring seasons to prepare for the more severe seasons of winter and summer. Don’t wait until you find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm to realize your wiper blades need to be replaced. They should be in top condition and ready for use before they’re needed.
Treat Your Windshield
Apply a water repellent to your windshield to help repel water, making it easier for your windshield wipers to wipe away moisture. Apply only when the windshield is dry, it will be rendered useless if attempted during wet weather. The application will last a few months, however, and will need to be reapplied on a regular basis.
Best Practices for Using Your Wipers
- Disable wipers before shutting off your vehicle. By leaving them on, the next time you start your car, your wipers will resume wiping the windshield. Leaving wipers on causes unnecessary stress on the blades, resulting in premature wear.
- Never use wipers on a dry windshield. Any dust or dirt that needs to be cleared from your windshield should be used with wiper fluid. Allowing wiper blades to run across a dry windshield allows dirt and other contaminants to get trapped between the wiper blade and the windshield, interrupting contact, which could make wipers less effective over time.
- Clear leaves and other debris before using wipers. While it may seem convenient to let your wipers do the work for you, it could be detrimental down the line. If a leaf or other substance gets lodged between the wiper blade and the windshield, water may be able to get between the wiper blade and windshield. Plus, using the wiper with standing debris can create small cavities in the rubber of the wiper blade that will permit water to pass after debris has been removed.
- Defrost windshield before wiping away any ice. Similar to leaves, it may be easier to let your wipers do the work and clear ice off your windshield but running your wipers over ice damages the blades. Just like debris, ice will get stuck between the blade and windshield, making it less successful. If a freeze is predicted in your area, it may be wise to move your wiper blades into the up position, without contact on the glass, overnight. By doing so, you are preventing the blades from freezing to the windshield, which could also damage the rubber.