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Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Windshield Wiper Blade

windshield wiper blade

Properly working windshield wiper blades are vital to the safe operation of any vehicle. Whether you live in the desert or in an area that receives a lot of rain, snow or hail, it's important to know that your wiper blades will clean your windshield when needed. However, due to the fact that they are made out of soft rubber, they eventually wear out, and need to be replaced. Many automotive manufacturers agree that they should be replaced every six months, regardless of their use.

Many people often believe that wiper blades will wear out in areas that receive frequent rainfall. This is not always true. In fact, dry desert conditions can be worse for wiper blades as the hot sun will cause the blades to warp, crack, or melt. There are many different types of wiper blades and different ways to replace them. Most car owners will replace the entire blade, which attaches to the wiper control arm; while others will replace the soft blade insert. Regardless of which option you choose, it's critical to replace them when you recognize some of the common warning signs of a bad or failing windshield wiper blade.

Listed below are a few of the common warning signs that you have a bad or worn out wiper blade and that it's time to replace them.

1. Streaking on the glass

Wiper blades are designed to press evenly onto the windshield and remove water, debris, and other objects smoothly on the glass. The result of the smooth operation is that there will be very few streaks in the windshield. However, as the windshield wiper blades get old, worn out, or torn, they don't press evenly on the windshield. This reduces their ability to effectively clean the windshield and will leave streaks and spots on the glass when they operate. If you see streaks on the windshield frequently, it's a good sign that they are worn out and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

2. Screeching sound when wipers operate

A smooth wiper blade is similar to a brand new razor: it clears off debris quickly, smoothly, and without a sound. However, when the wiper blade has outlived its lifespan, you'll hear a screeching sound that is caused by uneven rubber gliding over the windshield. The screeching sound can also be caused by hard rubber that has shrunken due to excess exposure to sunlight and heat. Not only does this type of worn out wiper blade cause the screeching sound, but this could be scratching your windshield as well. If you notice that your wiper blades are screeching as they operate from left to right, have them replaced as soon as possible.

3. Wiper blades bounce as they operate

If you've turned on your wiper blades and they appear to bounce, this is also a warning indicator that your blades have served their purpose and need to be replaced. However, it may also signify that your wiper blade arm may be bent and needs to be replaced. If you notice this symptom, you might want to contact a local ASE certified mechanic to have them examine the wiper blades and the windshield wiper blade arm to determine what is broken.

Replacing wiper blades is recommended by most vehicle manufacturers every six months. A good rule of thumb however is to purchase new wiper blades and have them installed at the same time you complete a regular oil change. Most car owners drive 3,000 to 5,000 miles every six months. It's also a good idea to change your wiper blades with the seasons. For cold weather climates, there are specially coated and covered wiper blades that resist ice freezing on the blades themselves.

Regardless of where you live, it's always smart to plan ahead and be proactive about replacing your windshield wiper blades. If you need assistance with this, one of our local ASE certified mechanics from YourMechanic can arrive to your home or office to complete this important service for you.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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