When Should You Replace Your Wiper Blades?

The unassuming windshield wiper cleans away splattered insects, brushes away heavy piles of snow, scrapes away ice and frost and clears the view at a furious pace during rainstorms — sometimes for hours at a time.

History of the Windshield Wiper

Modern windshield wipers were the brainchild of a country girl from Alabama who visited New York City in the winter of 1902. Mary Anderson was riding in a trolley car and the driver had the front window half down as the falling sleet constantly blocked his vision.

She went home and came up with a simple-yet-ingenious device with a spring-loaded arm and a counterweight to ensure contact with the window.

Anderson’s lever-powered device with a rubber blade worked like a charm, yet the automakers of the time dismissed it as “not having commercial value.”

Sadly for Anderson, the 17-year patent on her brilliant invention ran out before automakers came to their senses and realized wipers should be standard equipment.

Today, they are among the most humble but most important devices on your car.

But how often do you think about them?

Windshield Wipers

When did you last replace your wiper blades?

For many, wipers are an afterthought until one day they stop working in a heavy downpour — suddenly you’re driving blind.

This dangerous scenario is highly preventable.

Windshield wiper blades can withstand the scorching sun, subzero frost, torrential rains and a variety of weather conditions in between. But of course, nothing lasts forever.

If you ask an expert, they’ll probably tell you it’s a good idea to swap out the blades every six months to a year. This is good advice, but there are other factors to consider:

  • What type of wiper blades are you using?
  • What weather conditions are you subjecting the blades to?
  • Are these ordinary rubber blades, or halogen-hardened rubber blades?

Windshield Wipers 2

Halogen-hardened rubber blades last longer but are a bit more costly. If you bump it up a notch and get silicone blades you can expect a year or more of solid use, but again, quality comes at a price.

What you don’t want to do is ignore your wipers or their blades. If you get to the point where you hear squeaking or a clattering-type sound, you’ve likely overextended the lifespan of your blades.

Seeing streaks on your windscreen during a cloudburst is another instant indicator it’s time for some new blades.

Ignore these warnings at your peril because the next step after blade failure is a pair of metal arms scraping at your windscreen, which in some cases can actually cause scratches on the glass.

It’s pretty easy to get windshield wiper blades changed; you likely won’t be at the auto shop for more than 20 minutes. Here at Searle’s Auto, we will also be happy to help you decide which wipers are best for you.

But even if you are scrupulous in your wiper blade maintenance, there could come a day when the entire windshield wiper “arm” will need to be replaced as they sometimes bend for a variety of reasons. We recommend that you check on the “arms” as well, to make sure everything is in top working order.

It’s funny how we press a button and expect everything to comply with our needs — and it usually works out fine. We take windshield wipers for granted, but they really are workhorses that pull a mighty heavy load. Your wipers help you see the road — and we don’t need to tell you how important that is!

As a rule of thumb, check on your wiper blades about every six months — better safe than sorry.

Also, talk to one of our friendly professionals about choosing the right blades to suit your vehicle and the weather conditions. Better quality blades might be a good investment depending on your particular needs.

If you’re not sure if your wipers are due to be changed, stop on by Searle’s Auto Repair and we would be happy to take a look for you.

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