Above image: These wiper blades are worn far past the point of needing replacement. Is it really worth risking life and limb to avoid swapping out worn blades for a new set? Image credit: Michael Boyd
Windshield wiper blades are among the most commonly replaced auto parts with good reason. Maintaining good visibility is crucial to safe operation of a vehicle. Wiper blades should be replaced before they fail, not after. During a severe storm is no time to discover that you can’t safely see out of your windshield. Replace wiper blades every six months to maintain good visibility and improve safety.
Regular inspection of your blades – and just paying attention to how well they clear rain or snow – helps keep your vehicle safe for you, your passengers and everyone else on the road. Maintaining washer fluid levels is important, too, as is regular cleaning of interior and exterior glass.
Wiper blades live a tough life, exposed to the heat of summer and the cold of winter. If your wiper blades are dry, brittle or torn, the elements have destroyed their usefulness. You should replace them immediately.
Subtler signs of wear can be seen on the edge of the rubber blade that contacts the glass. Examine the edge for pits or tiny cracks. Check to see if the rubber feels hard or brittle. A properly-performing blade has a smooth, sharp edge and soft, flexible rubber. If your wiper blade is folded to one side, not perpendicular to the glass, it may not effectively wipe your windshield cleanly.
If you drive an SUV, wagon or hatchback with a rear blade, be sure to regularly examine it, too. Be sure to top off the rear washer fluid reservoir to maintain good rearward visibility.
For light use in a mild climate, a value-priced blade like the NAPA Accufit wiper may work fine for your needs. But if you frequently drive long distances or use your vehicle in rugged conditions, consider a premium blade. While these blades cost a bit more, their careful designs and high-quality materials deliver the best performance. Or if you live in a place with a harsh winter climate, choose a blade designed for cold-weather applications like the NAPA Winter Defense blade.
Inspecting and replacing wiper blades is an easy DIY task. But even if you don’t do it yourself, be sure your service technician keeps your car or truck safe with properly functioning wiper blades. Your local NAPA AutoCare Center can help. Your local NAPA store can choose the correct fit for your vehicle and driving conditions.
Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to replace wiper blades, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.