Windshield wipers are an often overlooked piece of safety equipment on our cars and trucks. Ever take a look at one of these nifty little things? They are a marvel of engineering. Designed to stick to your windshield glass regardless of your speed and still swipe away rain, mist, snow and often muddy road spray.
Keeping up with your wiper health is quite easy. Almost without exception they are designed with some sort of quick release mechanism that will allow you to change out the wiper blade within a few minutes time.
There is practically no climate on earth that isn’t harmful to these blades. As a result, they need to be changed out about every six months and never later than once a year. If you live in a sunny climate, the blades are getting dried in the heat or arid climate and deteriorate from ultraviolet light. If you live in a wetter area of the country, the blades are getting used a lot and are wearing out. And if you live in a four season climate, the blades are getting sun baked, then wet, and then frozen, and then ice/snow covered. All of which yield their fair share of wear on the wiper blade.
One swipe of your blades across a iced over windshield can slice the blades with hundreds of tiny cuts. Now multiply this by dozens of attempts to clear a frozen windshield. When the weather warms up the wear of use during rain and then the drying and aging effects of strong sun light will pretty well do it for the blades. Those tiny cuts broaden and before long the windshield is smearing during wiper use instead of yielding a nice clear view.
Any new blade is better than a blade that may be only six months old. My particular favorite brand of wiper is one that has been impregnated with silicone. This blade leaves a micro thin coat of silicone on the glass each and every time it is used. This results in a continuously renewed coat, and no glare. And this is very much desired by myself because I find I can run the wipers at a much less frequent sequential speed than ever before. Rain drops seem to bead off the glass and get blown away. Often times I can see clearly without using the wipers at all. But any wiper blade that is regularly replaced is a wonderful asset to your safety.
One of the more recent fads I have seen with wiper blades has been the use of multiple blades per arm. Usually two blades but I have seem as many as three blades per arm. I replace my blades regularly and I do not want to replace more than one blade per side at a time. After all, whether using two or three blades on the arm, they are still going to get as much wear as using only one blade. And I suspect that multiple blades would be more expensive than single blade replacement.
Another item that I see offered on the auto parts store shelves is a silicone liquid, with which you can coat the windshield in an effort to repel water. I have used one of the products with less than good results. It repelled water just fine until I actually used the wipers. At which point the glaze of silicone became scratched with a zillion tiny lines from the wipers and pollutants present in the air and on my windshield and later, after darkness had fallen and I found myself trying to drive against oncoming headlights through an immense glare produced by these scratches. They acted exactly like the coating on the inside of a light bulb to diffuse the lights in all directions.
To sum up, replace the wipers at regular intervals of not more than one year. Use an alcohol swab to clean the blades from time to time to remove grit and road grime. And never never, try to use the wipers when they are ice coated and therefore stuck down. You can burn up your wiper motor or strip the rubber wiper portion right off the blade. And THAT, can permanently scar your windshield.