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Windshield Wipers 101

Can you imagine driving down the road with no windshield wipers as it’s pouring rain or during a heavy snow storm? That could certainly make seeing the road a difficult task! Thankfully, your vehicle is equipped with windshield wipers that help keep your windshield clear to provide a better view of the road. However, if they’re not replaced on a consistent basis, it could impede your ability to see the road, which could compromise your safety. Learn everything there is to know about wipers from what they’re made of, the varieties of wipers, and how to identify when windshield wipers need to be replaced.

my windshield wipers stopped working

What Are They Made Of?

Windshield wipers are made up of metal and rubber or silicone composites. The frames are most often made of aluminum with some bits of steel for smaller parts. The area of the wiper blade that comes in contact with the windshield is most often made of rubber or synthetic compounds. Because rubber products are more sensitive to outdoor elements due to dry, cold air or extreme heat conditions, and dirt and other debris, they tend to wear out more often. The metal portions, the area which applies pressure to the windshield, will eventually wear from age and usage.

Are There Different Kinds of Wipers?

There are many manufacturers of windshield wipers but, there are only about four different types of wipers and wiper blades. Most often vehicles utilize frame style, which is the most common. Frame style wipers have a squeegee type look and literally sponge the water off the windshield when activated. Beam style wipers are made from a single one-piece design which helps limit breakage of smaller parts. Although they cost more than traditional wipers, their blades are made of silicone or a thicker rubber, which results in longer lasting wipers. Winter Wiper Blades are advantageous during the winter months as they have an added protective rubber shell that prevents snow and ice from sticking to the blades. If you’re looking for something extra fancy, heated wiper blades are also an option. Heated wiper blades are equipped with heating elements sealed within the wipers, that radiate heat throughout the blade, preventing ice buildup. Some windshield wipers are also available in varying colors, instead of the standard black color.

When Do I Change My Windshield Wipers?

Though sizes of each set of windshield wipers vary by vehicle, they’re all pretty much the same and are fairly easy to install. An annual replacement is sufficient, however, if you live in colder or drier climates, then you should consider replacing them semi-annually. It’s also a good idea to have your technician perform a visual inspection each time your vehicle is in for service to look for signs of wear that may include torn or loose rubber, rigid or inflexible rubber, missing or broken pieces in the rubber, curling or bending toward or away from the windshield, and/or cracks or breaks in the frame.

How Will I Know When I Need New Windshield Wipers?

Your technician may tell you when it’s time to replace your wipers, but you may also begin to notice a few things that may clue you in on when it’s time for a new set. For example, when in use you may notice streaks across the windshield, unusual sounds such as squeaks, squeals, and creaks, little to no contact with the windshield, or missed areas while wiping. To care for them between replacements, gently wipe the blades with a soft, damp cloth and carefully replace them on the windshield, avoiding bending or breaking the frame.

What Else Should I Know?

When it comes to ensuring your windshield is shiny and clear for viewing between car washes, be sure to utilize the wiper fluid. Sometimes, unexpectedly, your wiper fluid may not expel. The cause may be something as simple as needing a top off of fluid in the reservoir. However, if you’ve checked the reservoir and have plenty of fluid, there’s likely another issue that’s causing the trouble. If you notice a whining sound while attempting to use the wiper fluid, the washer nozzle may be clogged, or you may have a broken washer pump. In colder climates, where overnight temperatures can drop below freezing, ensure you are using an antifreeze wiper fluid. Frozen washer fluid can damage internal components which could lead to costly repairs.