Most decisions made by drivers are based on a clear unobstructed view of the road ahead, which makes good visibility essential, especially during wet weather.
This means that windshield wiper blades are among the most important driving safety components on any motor vehicle.
Windshield wipers have a squeegee effect – each time the thin rubber blade moves across the windshield the droplets of water are pulled away from the driver’s field of vision.
Some wiper blades may look okay, but they do a poor job of wiping when put to the test. Others are in obvious need of replacement because they’re cracked, torn, split or show brittleness, or otherwise clearly showing signs of wear and tear.
Regardless of their appearance, if the windshield wipers are chattering, streaking or otherwise failing to wipe cleanly and consistently, the wiper blades should be replaced.
Replace Wiper Blades Regularly
Leading wiper blade manufacturers Trico and ACDelco both recommend windshield wiper blades should be restored every six months for maximum performance and good visibility when driving.
If left unchanged, all windshield wiper blade materials will eventually fall victim to environmental factors. Exposure to sunlight, ozone, and even atmospheric pollution causes the rubber to age, also if the wipers aren’t used much.
As for windshield wiper blades will wear out, flexibility can be an issue as they become old and getting them to clean effectively become a challenge. They may exhibit a continuous curvature, preventing it from achieving full contact with the windscreen.
This tends to be more of a problem on vehicles that are parked outside in the hot sun all day. The sun bakes and hardens the rubber, and when the wipers are needed, they streak and chatter because they can’t follow the curvature of the windscreen.
Heavy Use is Hard on Wiper Blades
Heavy use can be hard on wiper blades because dust, abrasives, and road grime wear away the edge that the blades need to wipe cleanly.
As the blade loses its edge (which is precision cut square to maximize the squeegee effect), water gets under the blade and remains on the glass. The result is reduced visibility and poor wiping action.
Any blade that’s chattering, streaking or doing a poor job of wiping, therefore, is a blade that’s overdue for replacement. The same goes for any blade that is cracked, torn, nicked or otherwise damaged.
A simple check is to try the windshield washers on a dry day. If the windshield wiper blades are not in a reliable state when they attempt to wipe the washer solvent off the glass streaking, chattering or any other problems will be plainly obvious.
Check the Windshield Washer System Too
This test also provides the opportunity to check how well the windshield washer system’s performing. Do both squirters work? If not, a nozzle may be plugged with dirt or a hose may be kinked or have come loose.
Check that the spray hits the windshield where it’s supposed to. If it doesn’t the nozzles need adjusting.
Also be sure the windshield washer pump delivers an adequate stream of solvent. If the stream is weak, the vehicle may have a weak washer pump, or a clogged, kinked or loose hose.
Most windshield washer reservoirs have a screen to filter out debris that could clog or damage the pump. If this screen itself is blocked by debris, it can choke off the flow of solvent to the washers.
After checking the windshield wipers, check the rear wiper too. After all, it’s just as important to see what’s behind when backing up in the rain as it is to see what’s up ahead.
Replacing windshield wiper blades isn’t difficult and almost anyone can make this a simple DIY project.
And remember, whenever a windshield wiper blade replacement is needed, always replace both blades at the same time even if only one appears to be worn.