Windscreen wipers. Not exactly the most exciting part of any vehicle, but they play a vital role in keeping your car, truck, van or bus on the road. They’re something you rarely think about until that time comes when you notice they’re not working properly.
Eventually, even the best wipers in the world are going to need changing, but how often should you do it and what should you be looking out for so you know when that time is? We’re glad you asked.
When it comes to buying new wipers, the price is going to vary wildly. Main car dealerships are going to be the most expensive, whilst your local independent car parts shop is going to charge (hopefully) a lot less, often for the same wiper. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Cheaper wipers will be made of lower quality materials, so won’t last as long, or be as hard-wearing as they need to be which will cost you more money in the long run.
Why Invest in a Good Windscreen Wiper
Before you opt for the cheapest one you can find, it’s important to remember the job the humble windscreen wiper does. Keeping your windscreen clear, clean and free from debris, giving you an uninterrupted view of the road ahead. The last thing you want is for them to fail during a downpour, snowstorm or when driving along a muddy B road in the countryside.
It might sound like fear-mongering, but a poorly cleared screen can impact on your reaction time. Even a split-second delay in what you can see might be the difference between breaking in time to avoid hitting a blockage in the road, evading the vehicle in front of you or seeing a sharp bend in the road ahead.
How Often Should I Replace my Windscreen Wipers?
All things being equal, a good rule of thumb to use would be to replace your windscreen wipers at least once a year. Good quality wipers will last a good 9-12 months at least before they start to deteriorate. It will depend to some degree on how often they are used, but if you do buy cheaper blades, then they may need changing a little more often than that.
The rubber on all wipers will gradually degrade due to normal wear and tear, the ultra-violet rays from the sun, the type of washer fluid you use and the ‘interesting’ British weather. Cheaper quality materials won’t withstand those things as long, but what should you look out for to tell you they need replacing?
How to Know if Your Windscreen Wiper Needs Replacing
If you don’t do it already, it’s a good idea to include a visual inspection of the wiper blades to your weekly vehicle check. Look for areas where the rubber is starting to harden or crack, which will happen due to its exposure to the elements over time. If you can’t see this on the wiper itself, you might see them ‘streaking’ on the windscreen when you use them. When used, you might notice bands of water remaining on the screen after each wipe. Over time, this will become more noticeable and more problematic.
As the rubber on the windscreen wiper begins to wear down, the ‘blade’ edge of the wiper will lose sharpness due to normal usage. This will mean that the water it’s supposed to be wiping away will instead be smeared across your field of vision, reducing visibility and clouding the screen.
The final sign that you need to replace your wipers is the noise they’ll start to make. Worn wiper blades will either ‘squeak’ across the windscreen as they become more worn. It’ll be a very noticeable noise. Another sign you might notice is when they begin to ‘chatter’ or vibrate across the windscreen. The latter often happens when it’s very hot or cold, but is another great sign to look for, so you know they need to be changed.
For all the work your wipers have to do over its lifetime, one overriding factor is the windscreen itself. If the glass is damaged in any way, you must get some professional help to resolve the issue. Regardless of whether it’s a chip in the glass, a scratch or crack in the windscreen, even the smallest imperfection can have an impact on the wipers. This reduces its lifespan and effectiveness, so getting it fixed as soon as you can is crucial. So, if you’re looking for a professional, look no further.