Is It Time for a Windshield Wiper Replacement?
March 9th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Your car’s windshield wipers help you safely travel through snow, sleet, rain, and other inclement weather conditions. Yet, if you go too long without replacing your wipers, you could encounter safety issues on the road.
The Invention of Windshield Wipers?
American entrepreneur Mary Anderson invented the first windshield wiper in 1903, but she got the idea for the device one year earlier during a trip to New York City.
Anderson was traveling in a New York City streetcar on a snowy day, but her driver constantly had to exit the car to clean off the windshield, Anderson’s great-great-niece Sara-Scott Wingo told NPR. Anderson later made a sketch of her windshield wiper and put together a description of the device. She applied for a patent for the windshield wiper on June 18, 1903, and the U.S. Patent Office accepted the request later that year.
Windshield wipers have evolved over the past century, and they are now used to remove moisture and other unwanted materials from the windshields of cars, airplanes, boats, and other vehicles. Despite the evolution of windshield wipers, their basic construction and function remain the same.
How Do Windshield Wipers Work?
A windshield wiper consists of an arm that moves at one end, along with a rubber blade attached to the opposite end. The wiper functions when the arm moves back and forth over the windshield. At the same time, the rubber blade removes water and other debris from the windshield’s surface.
The speed of windshield wipers can be adjusted, and cars offer both continuous and intermittent wiper settings. Most cars also feature two windshield wipers that are synchronized.
In addition to windshield wipers, cars feature windshield wiper fluid. Windshield wipers can be used in conjunction with this fluid, which usually consists of a blend of alcohol, detergent, and water, to keep the windshield clean.
Also, some cars feature automatic windshield wipers. Whereas traditional windshield wipers need to be activated by the driver, automatic wipers detect moisture on the windshield. Automatic wipers also adjust the frequency and speed of the wiper blades on their own.
How Long Do Windshield Wipers Last?
The length of time windshield wipers last varies based on the wipers’ frequency of use, the quality of the wipers, and other factors. In some instances, wipers wear out in as little as three months. Or, in other cases, wipers continue to perform for up to one year.
Generally, replacing your car’s windshield wipers at least every six months is beneficial. You should also keep an eye out for any of the following warning signs that indicate your wipers are worn out:
- The wiper blades cause streaking or smearing when they wipe the windshield.
- The wiper blades have uneven edges and missing pieces.
- The wiper blades appear cracked.
You need windshield wipers that perform well so you can see when driving through harsh weather conditions that otherwise can impact your vision. If you believe your windshield wipers need to be replaced, do so immediately.
When to Replace Windshield Wipers: What You Need to Know
It typically helps to perform a visual inspection of your car’s windshield wipers periodically to determine if it is a good time to replace them. When you conduct this inspection, here’s what you need to watch for:
- Corrosion at the joints and claws of the wiper blades
- Detached wiper blade arms
- Tearing at the edge of the rubber blade
Keep in mind that various environmental factors can reduce the lifespan of your car’s windshield wipers, too. These factors include:
- Sand, dust, and other airborne debris
- Acid rain
- Salt water
There are several things you can do to extend the lifespan of your windshield wipers as well, such as:
1. Clean Your Car’s Windshield Regularly
It only takes a few minutes to clean your car’s windshield, and the benefits of doing so can be significant. By cleaning the windshield, you can quickly remove dirt, oil, and other residues that could potentially cause damage to your wipers.
2. Clean Your Car’s Windshield Wipers
You can clean your car’s windshield wipers by applying windshield wiping fluid to the blades with a paper towel. Clean the wipers every time you fuel up your vehicle so you can prevent excessive amounts of dirt and grime from accumulating on them.
3. Don’t Use Your Car’s Windshield Wipers on Ice and Frozen Snow
It may seem like a good idea to use your car’s windshield wipers to remove ice and frozen snow after a snow storm. But in this scenario, your wipers are unlikely to do you any good. If your car has been sitting out in the cold where ice and frozen snow has developed on the windshield, activate your vehicle’s defroster instead. Be patient, wait for the ice and frozen snow to melt, and use an ice scraper on your windshield as needed.
Lastly, when you’re ready to replace your car’s windshield wipers, make sure to purchase the correct new wipers for your car and follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. If you are unsure which wipers to purchase, consult your vehicle’s manual. Or, you can consult with the shop that sells new wipers, which may be able to help you install them as well.
Replace your car’s windshield wipers on a regular basis — you will be glad you did. With clean wipers that work properly, you can maintain full visibility on the road.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto San Rafael, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the San Francisco area.
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