Although you may not think about them very often, wiper blades are pretty important! Most of us have experienced sudden snow or rain when a storm hits while we’re driving—then we turn on the windshield wipers and there’s nothing but streaks. Needless to say, this can be nerve-wracking (and dangerous), especially if you’re driving at night and have to deal with the glare of on-coming headlights. The best way to prevent this is to replace your wiper blades before they fail.
Why is it Necessary to Replace Your Wiper Blades?
It probably goes without saying, but the more you use your wiper blades, the sooner they’ll wear out. Rain, road grime, and even cleaning the bugs off your windshield will contribute to wear, but the environment does as well. Even when you’re not using your wiper blades, they’re exposed to UV rays, ozone, soap, grime, and fluctuating temperatures—all of which lead to deterioration over time.
Replacing your wiper blades isn’t just good for visibility, either. The wiper blades use rubber blades that are connected to metal arms to move rain and snow off your windshield; when the rubber gets worn down, it exposes the metal. This can cause the metal to make contact with your windshield, which can scratch the glass and eventually develop into deep grooves. Once this happens, you’ll need to replace or resurface the windshield. It’s much less expensive (and less of a hassle!) to simply replace your wiper blades before they can cause any damage.
Fortunately, wiper blade replacement is easy to do—even if you have no automotive experience. A general rule is to replace them every 6 to 12 months. Common signs that it’s time for a replacement include:
- The metal frames are bent
- A streaky windshield
- Gaps between the wiper blades and the windshield
- Noises when the wiper blades are operating, such as grinding or squeaking
- Visibly damaged rubber
- The blades skip across your windshield
Wiper Blade Upgrades
Although you can swap out your old blades for the same type, there are also wiper blade upgrades (in both material and design) available.
Traditional black rubber blades are great for clearing your windshield when they’re new, but their performance degrades over time. Silicone blades are far less affected by environmental conditions and last longer.
When it comes to design, there are two elements to consider. First, some wiper blades have a single wiping edge; others have multiple edges. The idea is to maximize the wiping power during both swipes of the blade.
The second element is the wiper frame—the part that applies pressure on the blade as it passes over the windshield. Conventional wiper blades have frames with four to six contact points on the blade, which apply the pressure needed to clear water and snow. The other design is called a “beam frame.” This uses uniform pressure along the entire surface of the wiper. The shape catches the wind passing over the vehicle to provide additional downforce to help get a clean swipe. A hybrid frame has four to six contact points as with a conventional blade, but also incorporates an airfoil to provide additional downforce as with beam blades.
Which blade is best? It’s always recommended to use at least the grade and design listed in your owner’s manual. However, you can always upgrade for better performance and longevity. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid and that your washer nozzles are working properly.
Need Assistance with Your Wiper Blades?
Whether you need help installing your wiper blades or recommendations on upgrades for your vehicle, EuroCar Service is here to help! We specialize in all European makes and models, including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo, Smart Car, Fiat, and Jaguar. Call us today at 206-527-8828 or request an appointment online.