Do Winter Wiper Blades Make a Difference?
Staying up-to-date on your car, truck, or SUV’s essential maintenance is vital any time of the year. Even the simplest tasks, such as changing or replacing worn-out windshield wiper blades, can help make any drive safer and more secure.
During the wintertime, replacing your wiper blades can help ensure you have the visibility you need to keep you safe during harsh weather conditions. In fact, failing to replace wiper blades that are damaged before the winter can be dangerous, as around 20% of the crashes each year in the USA result from adverse weather conditions such as rain, sleet, snow, slick conditions, and fog, according to data from the NHTSA.
However, while replacing worn or damaged wipers is essential, some drivers may be wondering if their vehicles could benefit from different types of wiper blades. Specifically, do winter wiper blades really make a difference?
To help you answer this question, it’s first essential to understand how long windshield wipers can last, how you can replace them yourselves, and which types of wiper blades may be best for your vehicle.
How Long Do Windshield Wiper Blades Last?
When it comes to replacing your vehicle’s wiper blades, a good rule of thumb to remember is that most types of wiper blades need to be replaced at least once every 6 months. However, as with any vehicle, you can find a more comprehensive breakdown of your car’s recommended maintenance schedule, including how often you should change your wipers, by looking at your owner’s manual.
However, regardless of the blades you have, most windshield wipers are made from rubber, which will deteriorate with everyday use, such as other wear and tear items like your brakes and tires. UV rays and the type of washer fluid you use can also speed up their deterioration. On the other hand, silicone wiper blades can often last up to 4x longer than traditional rubber blades but will often cost more.
When to Replace Your Windshield Wipers
While replacing your wiper blades can not only help you stay safer while out on the road, it can also help to protect your windshield. This is because as your rubber wiper blades begin to fail, the rubber can begin to harden or disappear. When this happens, or when dirt, grit, and grime get stuck between the blades and the glass, it can scratch your windshield.
To help ensure you avoid these types of damages, be sure to keep an eye out for the signs that it may be time to replace your wiper blades. These can include:
- Dirt or water left on the windshield
- Streaks left on the windshield
- Squeaking or juddering noises when using the wipers
- Gaps, cracks, or rounded edges on the rubber blades themselves
- Rusting or warping on the metal wiper arms
Even if your wiper blades aren’t showing signs of wear, you might want to consider replacing them at least every six months, especially before the winter when you need them working at their best.
Save on the cost of replacing your front or rear wiper blade sets, as well as other essential maintenance services with an EnduranceAdvantage™ auto protection plan. Designed to protect your vehicle’s most vital components from unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance services such as up to 3 oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and more. Additionally, EnduranceAdvantage customers can also receive other special, one-time services such as a front or rear wiper blade set replacement — at no additional cost to you.
Which Type of Wipers Are the Best?
While there are different types of wiper blades you can choose from, it’s best to check your owner’s manual to ensure you are using blades that can fit your car’s specific make/model. You can also simply let the retailer you are purchasing the wiper blade set from know what make and model of the car you have for their recommendations.
Regardless of the type of wiper blades you are interested in, most cars have conventional, bracket-type wipers—consisting of a metal frame and rubber blades. They’re best for those looking for an affordable option but need to be replaced relatively often. Additionally, these types of wiper blades can often fail during the wintertime as they use several hinges to help them mold to the curvature of your vehicle’s windshield. These hinges can freeze during cold weather or become due to ice, snow, or other debris, resulting in the wipers being unable to conform to your windshield, leaving you with less visibility when driving in conditions such as heavy snow, rain, or sleet.
Hybrid wipers are also available and can often be a better option than traditional blades. This is because hybrid blades combine the affordability of standard wipers with a protective cover, helping them avoid many of the issues of traditional blades freezing or becoming clogged. However, the rubber shell can also crack or become damaged, resulting in many of the same issues you were trying to avoid.
To help combat this, winter wiper blades (sometimes referred to as beam wiper blades) can be the best choice, as they are sturdier and much more effective at keeping your windshield clean when driving. This is since rather than consisting of a frame and a rubber blade, beam-style wipers are made of a single piece of silicone or reinforced rubber that is shaped to your windshield, giving you maximum contact at all times. For those living in areas that experience harsher weather conditions year-round, like the midwest, northeast, or northwest, these can be a great option to keep you safe on the road. Hybrid wipers, which have rubber covers to make them more durable, are also available.
How to Replace Your Wiper Blades at Home in 3 Easy Steps
Changing your car’s wiper blades can be a quick and easy DIY maintenance task that anyone can do at home. If you have regular bracket-type wipers, simply follow these three steps:
- Remove your old wipers. Start on the driver’s side and pull the wiper arms up so they’re perpendicular to the windshield. Release the wiper blades from the hook or clip, pulling them off. With some clip frames, there’s a release catch you have to press. For more information on removing your wiper blades for your specific make/model, refer to your owner’s manual.
- Install your new wipers. Remove any blade protectors that are in place. Next, position your new wiper blades one at a time, attaching them to the hooks or sliding them into the clips. You’ll hear a click when they slot into place. Lower carefully to the windshield.
- Test your new wipers. Make sure they’re cleaning the windshield thoroughly. Job done!
If you need any help installing your new set of wiper blades, most automotive parts stores you buy replacement wiper blades from will be happy to fit them for you. You can also visit any certified repair facility or ASE Certified mechanic to ensure your blades are properly replaced.
Protect Your Vehicle Year-Round with Endurance
Save on your next wiper blade set replacement with an EnduranceAdvantage auto protection plan. Designed to help cover you from costly repair bills caused by unexpected breakdowns, each EnduranceAdvantage plan also comes with up to $3,500 in regular maintenance coverage, including special, one-time services like a front or rear wiper blade set replacement. Endurance customers will also receive 1 year of Elite Benefits with the purchase of any auto protection plan and a small activation fee. These include perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, up to 2 tire repairs or replacements, key fob replacements, and more.
To find more useful resources and guides covering all your auto needs, visit our Learning Center. You can also learn more about any Endurance protection plan, including EnduranceAdvantage, by requesting a free, no-obligation quote or by giving us a call directly at (800) 253-8203.
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Chris has been covering the automotive industry and topics ranging from road trips to driverless car technology for around 10 years. His own preference is for retro 4x4s that will stand up to a muddy field in the country.