Two parked cars covered in snow with their windshield wipers up

Why Do You Need Winter Windshield Wipers?

With winter in full force, you may have noticed that your windshield wipers are just not cutting it. The weather is throwing snow, sleet and frost at you, and your windshield wipers are struggling to keep the glass clear. But are winter windshield wipers really that different than regular wipers? First, let’s take a look at different windshield wipers and how they work.

Basic Types of Windshield Wipers

There are generally three types of wiper blades:

  • Traditional or conventional wiper blades have a flexible triangular metal frame with several articulating links, which hold a flexible rubber squeegee blade against the glass.
  • Aero blades or hybrid blades are essentially conventional wiper blades with an aerodynamic shell. They perform better at high speeds and are not as noisy as traditional blades.
  • Flat or beam blades have no external frame but are instead supported by one or two long ribs. Beam blades are both aerodynamic and quiet.

Winter blades, though, are a little different.

How to Choose the Right Wipers for Winter

When the temperature drops below freezing, your car might start to act up. Engines are harder to start because oil viscosity increases, weak batteries can fail and rain and snow can freeze to your windshield. Because the wiper blade’s path is a constantly changing curve, the flexibility of its frame and squeegee is key to its performance. If the frame freezes or the rubber stiffens, the wiper won’t clear your windshield very well, if at all.

To maintain maximum visibility in all kinds of weather, choose wiper blades that retain their flexibility. There are two features your winter blades should have: a rubber boot and a flexible squeegee blade. A rubber boot keeps the joints clear of water, which would otherwise freeze and immobilize them. While typical rubber blades stiffen in the cold, chattering and skipping across the glass, winter rubber and silicone blades stay flexible even in extreme cold, ensuring windshields stay clear.

Winter windshield wipers improve visibility in cold weather.

Other Winter Windshield Tips

To improve windshield clarity in the cold, use the defroster to keep the glass warm and prevent freezing. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with an appropriate winter-grade washer fluid. Consider using a windshield treatment to prevent frost and snow from sticking. Finally, to avoid damage to the blades, wiper motor and other wiper system parts, never use the wiper blades to clear frost or snow.

Whether your windshield has to contend with rain, frost, snow or road grime kicked up by other vehicles, the right winter windshield wipers keep the glass clear. A clean windshield reduces glare from the sun, traffic lights and headlights, making it easier for you to see and react to ever-changing weather and traffic conditions.

Check out all the wipers and accessories available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on picking winter windshield wipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

about author

Benjamin Jerew

Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.

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