Wiper Blade Replacement: When and Why
Windshield wiper blade replacement probably isn’t something you think about until it rains and you find that your wipers are doing a lousy job of clearing the glass in front of you. Rubber wiper blades deteriorate gradually over time, so to prevent poor vision when you need it most, here are some tips for keeping your wipers in good shape.
The Sun Is the Enemy
Over time, the ultraviolet light in sunshine degrades all sorts of rubber parts, including tires, door seals and, yes, wiper blades. If you live in an area of the South where hot sun regularly alternates with rain, you’re in for a double dose of UV that can quickly crack and dry rot your wipers, making blade replacement necessary more often. Even if you don’t use your wipers that much, if your car is parked out in the sun most of the time you’ll need to regularly check your blades to make sure they’re still in good shape.
Winter Is Rough, Too
The flip side of too much sun in Summer is low temperatures in Winter. Rubber wiper blades are often coated with substances, such as Teflon™, that are designed to help them slip and slide over your windshield, even in the presence of ice and snow. However, cold weather makes rubber hard and brittle, and subject to damage. In addition, wiper blades often freeze to the glass overnight, and when broken loose in the morning can suffer small rips and tears that degrade performance. Throw in exposure to road salts and sand, and you’ve got a schedule for accelerated wear.
If you’re reading this from Arizona, New Mexico or another location where windshield wipers seem like more of a formality than a necessity, you’re not getting off that easy. While you may not have to deal with the storms that seem to appear out of nowhere in Miami, there’s still the negative effects of heat and the sun to consider. If your wipers sit unused for months or even years at a time, chances are they won’t be able to answer the call when you do need them. Once a year, it’s worth taking a look at the blades to see if it’s time for a new set.
Windshield wipers are crucial when driving in extreme precipitation, and a sudden rain or snow storm appears on the horizon, it may become perfectly “clear” that the best time to inspect your wiper blades, and replace them if necessary, is sooner rather than later.
Photo courtesy of Morguefile.