Maybe You Need a New Pair of Wiper Blades, Not Glasses
The SUV is loaded with kids, groceries and backpacks when fall’s first rain begins its march through town, and you flip on the windshield wipers for the first time in months.
In seconds your windshield is coated in a mucky haze of dirt and grime, spreading a goop across the glass that worsens with each swipe of the blades.
“I call it the ‘schmear’ effect, when your wiper blades are dry from the summer and the rubber is not reacting well with the oils from the road,” said Dave Frauman, engineering manager for Pylon Manufacturing, makers of Michelin wiper blades.
If you haven’t used your wipers for an extended period of time, you should clean your windshield and wipe the edge of the wiper strips to remove any oils and debris, Frauman advised.
Your worn blades also may “chatter” when first used after months of sitting idle, skipping and chopping across the windshield without the wiper edge flipping over on the back-swing across the window.
When the seasons change, it’s time to check your blades, especially in the fall.
“You don’t know you’re going to need them until it starts raining or snowing, and then it might be too late to keep you safe,” Frauman said.
Safety experts recommend replacing your wiper blades every 6-12 months, depending on how much your car is exposed to sun and weather elements, yet federal transportation officials find that the average driver changes blades every two and one-half years.
What you need to know about wiper blade safety:
- Hidden damage can be caused to your blades by sun and exposure to harsh weather, trips to the car wash, road debris, even the ozone layer, drying out the rubber element and causing it to crack and fray.
- Just by knowing the make, model and year of your vehicle, you can use your smart phone or online resources to find the size of replacement blades at your local automotive store or dealer.
- Choosing the right blade also depends on your local driving conditions – do you need a “hybrid” blade for traveling in both rain and snow, or a “winter” blade for especially heavy snow.
- Don’t forget the rear wiper blade on your SUVs and mini-vans.