5 Things You’re Doing Wrong When Taking Care
of Your Windshield Wipers
It’s snowing like crazy outside, the truck in front of you keep splattering mud and slush ice in your windshield, it’s nighttime and you’re driving on a country road. Winter apocalypse. But wait! Your trusted windshield wipers might just save the situation! Except you don’t really know how to take care of them properly, and now they’re sloppily smearing dirt all over your windscreen while seemingly laughing at your distress with that annoying squeaking sound. That does it. Girl’s night is ruined (and you didn’t even notice that your wipers left a long scratch on your new windshield yet).
Well, here are some little tips and tricks that can help you avoid that kind of situation.
Taking care of windshield wipers and glass: you’re doing it wrong!
Leaving your windshield wipers raised when it snows
This little technique might prevent the blades from sticking to the windshield when it rains, snows or hails, but lifting the wipers are putting them at big risk of breaking (and damaging your windshield) on windy days. This could not only cost you new blades, but also a new mechanism if they freeze while up, and need to be forced back down.
Although there are other solutions to prevent the wiper arms from freezing, like sheathing them with a plastic bag or sliding a piece of flexible cardboard or plastic between the glass and the blades, you’re better off leaving them be and de-icing them carefully by hand. In extreme cases, unfreeze them with cool water or antifreeze, or wait for your windshield heating element to do its job.
Not turning them off when you park
Determined as the #1 cause of windshield wipers system and mechanism failure, not turning off the wipers (regardless of the weather or the season) is a good example of a small mistake with big consequences. The replacing cost of a wiper linkage ranges from 200$ to 700$ (I know, right…) and although you can get some parts, a home repair kit or duct tape for a few bucks, you’re better safe than sorry.
Turn wipers off when you park, it could save you a lot of trouble.
Not cleaning the blades and glass properly
You should clean your windshield AND windshield wipers every time you fill up your gas tank. In fact, an awful lot of windscreen scratches and marks (and a costly windshield replacement or auto glass repairs) could be avoided by developing that simple habit.
The glass should be taken care of with premium windshield washer liquid or neutral detergent. You can use a mild abrasive non-chlorinated cleaner, if it’s reaaally dirty. Applying an hydrophobic windshield treatment once in a while, such as the Aquapel® treatment offered by Uniglass Plus, can also greatly improve the performance of the wipers.
The blades can be cleaned with windshield washer fluid or rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. If they’re the – unbearably annoying – squeaking kind, you can wipe the blades with a paper towel moistened with WD40. It should soften them and prevent the squeak noise to drive you completely crazy.
Letting snow and ice accumulate at the bottom of the windshield
Even if de-icing the car isn’t the nicest thing to do in hellish cold, you should still take the time to do it properly. Removing ice and snow from the bottom of the windshield could save the wipers from skipping and streaking, and spare the system from overworking itself.
Oh and… Be gentle. I know it can be frustrating, but hitting the car at full strength with the ice scraper to break the ice is not the way. Think of warm exotic white sanded beaches and try to remove the ice as delicately as possible.
Take extra care of the washer liquid jet nozzles mounted on your car’s hood. The resin inside eventually dries out and can become brittle with time, making the little plastic units quite fragile and incompatible with a daily snow broom beating.
Not buying decent wipers to begin with
All windshield wipers are not created equal; actually, the fact that the model and size fit your car is far from being the only criteria to look for. Different kinds of wiper include:
- beam blades (also called frameless, spineless, bracketless or flat wipers), which became standard equipment on certain car models since 2000
- blades with a Teflon® coating which supposedly ensures a smooth, quiet wipe and non-adhesive performance
- blades that leave a hydrophobic, water-repellent film on the glass
- silicone blades – a lot more durable and water repellent, and more.
Replacing the wipers
For safety matter, you should change your windshield wipers as soon as they start to chatter or smear, reducing the driving visibility in any way or showing signs of wear. If they don’t make contact with the glass in certain spots anymore, you can try prying them gently or softening the rubber with WD40, but don’t hesitate to replace them if homemade fixing doesn’t work out.
The wiper arms cost range between 10$ to 50$, and you can generally have them installed as part of routine maintenance. They are also fairly easy to install by yourself.