If you’ve ever driven in rain or snow, you know the value of windshield wipers. Wipers clear precipitation from your windshield, and in so doing, they provide you with the visibility you need for safe driving.
It’s important to keep your wipers in top shape if you want them to perform at their best. So, how long do windshield wipers last? Let’s take a closer look at this question and a few others related to good windshield wiper maintenance.
Wiper Arms vs. Blades
The wiper blade is the component that makes contact with your windshield. It’s usually made of a material such as rubber or silicone. If the blade is worn, torn or otherwise in need of replacement, it may smudge the windshield or do a poor job of clearing rain and snow. Also, a worn blade may scratch the windshield’s glass.
The wiper arm is the piece that holds the blade. If it’s damaged or impeded, it can become bent, which will diminish its ability to properly remove precipitation from your car’s windshield. Damage to this component is a harder problem to solve because it’s a permanent part of the car that’s attached to a motor.
What you’ll be replacing regularly is the blade.
How Often Should I Replace My Wiper Blades?
The answer to the question, “How long do windshield wipers last?” can vary.
The blade is the part of the wiper that’s most subject to wear, so it’s generally recommended that you change your wiper blades every 6-12 months. In some cases, the blades may last as long as three years, but that will depend on factors such as the climate where you live and how often the blades are used.
If you live in a colder part of the country, you’ll likely use your wipers a lot during autumn and winter driving. At the very least, it’s a good idea to change your blades once a year, right before the fall.
How Can I Tell If My Wipers Need to Be Replaced?
If your blades exhibit any of the following symptoms, it may be time to replace them.
- Squeaking: If they’re in good shape, your wiper blades should make little or no sound as they travel across your wet windshield. Blades that are damaged or worn may squeak as they do their job.
- Wet spots or excessive streaking: Your blades will clear your windshield effectively if they’re working as they should. If your wiper blades cause excessive streaking or leave wet spots on the glass, it may be time to swap them out for a new set.
- Vibration: Blades that are in good condition will cover the windshield with a smooth motion. If the blades are damaged or torn, it may create gaps in the rubber or silicone. These gaps will cause the blades to vibrate harshly as they move across the glass.
You can visually inspect your wipers to see what condition they’re in. If the blades look torn or there are pieces missing, it’s time for a new set. If the wiper arm is visibly bent, it may need to be replaced.
Keep in mind that your goal should be to replace your blades before they get to the point where they’re not functioning effectively. If you replace them at least once a year, you’ll stand a better chance of having blades that always work well and support safe driving.
Your car’s wipers serve a vital function in rain and snow. If you take care of your wipers, they’ll take care of you when the weather is rough.
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 windshield wipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.