3 Ways to Get More Action Out of Your Windshield Wipers

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Follow These Tips for Better Wiping and Less Buying

windshield wiper clean
Clean your wiper blades for best performance on the windshield. Getty

You’re driving down the road and it starts to drizzle. Not a pouring, steady rain, but a nice coating of drizzle that makes it hard to see through your windshield. You activate your wipers, but instead of leaving you with a clean, squeegeed windshield you’re left trying to see the road through a smeared mess. This is not safe at all, not to mention frustrating! 

If your wipers aren’t clearing your windshield of water efficiently, the obvious solution is to replace your windshield wipers. But many are discovering there are ways to extend and give new life to your existing wipers. I can remember a time not so long ago that you could buy a new set of wipers for under $10. These days you can easily drop $40 or more on replacement wiper units. This isn’t exactly chump change for many of us so saving some money on wipers sounds like a great idea. But how exactly can you make your wipers work better or last longer? 

  1. Keep your windshield clean. A clean windshield can greatly reduce the amount of normal wear your wipers suffer. That first wipe of the day can be a killer if your windshield is filthy. Have you ever accidentally hit your wiper switch and watched your wipers scrape their way across a dirty, dry windscreen? All of that grit is eating away at the soft rubber that your wiper blades are made of. A wet, dirty windshield is almost as brutal if a little less noisy. Taking advantage of the window washing center at your local gas station every time you fill up can make a real difference in how clean your windshield is. Repairing windshield chips can help, too. 
  2. Thoroughly scrape your windshield of snow and ice. This is similar to keeping your windshield clean, but I've seen far too many people over the years who use their wipers to clear snow and ice from their windshield on a cold winter's morning. As your vehicle sits overnight, even a small amount of moisture can freeze into a jagged bump on your windscreen. A couple of passes with your wipers and you may have torn a few nice notches of rubber from the soft rubber wiping surfaces. This makes your wipers start to suck. A thorough examination and scraping off any frozen stuff will protect your wipers.
  3. Clean your wipers. This one usually throws people for a loop. How do you clean a windshield wiper? And why would you want to do that anyway? I've told you in the past about special tools that can be used to give your wipers a new scraping edge, but cleaning? As your wipers wear, they shed a fine powder of rubber that begins to collect on the wiper's cleaning surface. As more and more of this rubber sticks to the wiper, your crisp wiping edge becomes bigger and sloppier. The bigger and sloppier it becomes the bigger the smear factor when you are trying to use your wipers. Luckily, cleaning your wiper's business end is easy. Take a clean cloth, or even a paper towel. Wet it well with water or window cleaning solution. Run the wet cloth back and forth across the scraping edge of your windshield wipers. Be gentle so you don't risk actually tearing the rubber. Keep rubbing back and forth until you feel you've smoothed out the edge nicely. You'll see lots of black on your cloth, which means you are accomplishing your goal. Don't keep rubbing until you come up with a clean cloth, because it will likely never happen, and you'll have no wiper at all left when you're done! 

There's also this great video on cleaning your wipers.