Whether or not you use them frequently, you should be replacing wiper blades with some regularity. Over time the blade wears down, making it less effective at clearing your windshield. It’s important to remember that effective windshield wipers are a vital safety component: so take the maintenance of them as seriously as you would your tires or brakes.
How Long Is Too Long?
Some people will go years between a new set of blades, but that’s far too long. Wiper blades can wear out in as few as three months. And none will last longer than 12, even if you shell out big bucks for a fancy pair. Get in the habit of looking at your blades every few months. If you are seeing any clues suggesting they are wearing out, it’s best to be proactive and replace them before you’re stuck in a storm with a blurred view.
Plan on replacing wiper blades at the very least once a year. If you live in a region that sees snow or ice in the colder months, consider switching to a set of winter blades at the same time you are mounting your snow tires. These durable windshield wipers aren’t prone to freezing up and can handle heavier snowfall. As temperatures warm in the spring, you can switch back to a slimmer wiper blade.
What to Look for
To determine if your wiper blades are ready to be replaced, look for these telltale signs:
- The blades are streaking, smearing or clicking when wiping the windshield. These are often the first clues for many drivers that there is a problem. If the wipers are still smearing after you clean the blades and the windshield, then you are ready for a new set.
- The wiper blades have uneven edges and missing pieces. When you are cleaning your wiper blades, look down the length to see if the blade edge is even. Clearing salt or mud can damage the blades and leave them jagged. This causes the wipers to streak as they miss sections of the windshield.
- Cracks are visible on the wiper blade. Just like tires deteriorate from weather, heat and time, wiper blades will crack if they are constantly assaulted by the elements. Once you see lines or cracks within the body of the blade, it’s time for a new set.
Poor wiping performance doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to replace wiper blades. Thoroughly clean your windshield with a paper towel saturated with windshield wiper fluid, or a mild detergent, and remove any buildup or grime that is hindering the blades before you make any decisions about the state of your wipers.
Visibility is paramount for drivers. The ability to see clearly in inclement weather starts and stops with your windshield wipers. Therefore, replacing your wiper blades should be a mainstay of your car care regimen.
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 and when to replace windshield wiper blades, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of morgueFILE
As a freelance automotive writer, I create articles, how-to guides, web content and white papers for online magazine site and automotive companies. I passionately believe that cars and motorcycles should be appreciated for the works of art they are, and fantasize about owning a white Ducati 899 Panigale to display in my living room. I am currently the Corvette expert at About.com, cover alternatively-fueled vehicles and technology at HybridCars.com, and hold the imaginary title of Formula One test driver on the back roads surrounding my Oregon home.