Windscreen wipers are an invaluable part of any vehicle, providing the driver with a clear, unobstructed view of the road just when it is needed most. Whether it is rain, sleet, snow or even dust or leaves which are covering your windscreen, the wiper blades will quickly and efficiently clear the obstruction, meaning you can continue your journey in safety.
However, of all the parts of a car which are subject to wear and tear, windscreen wipers are perhaps the most fragile. Manufactured from thin rubber, they are designed to operate smoothly on the windscreen without damaging the surface of the glass, yet despite their fragility they are often required on a daily basis, possibly for long periods of time, during wet weather. In winter they become frozen to the glass and in summer they are used to help to clean the windscreen, while being subjected to high temperatures. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that windscreen wipers do not last indefinitely and require regular replacement.
How often should I replace the wiper blades?
The lifespan of windscreen wipers depends on the brand, the quality and the weather conditions. This can be as little as 6 to 12 months. Often a need to replace them is overlooked by the owner, although regular servicing and MOT testing should identify if they are becoming worn. However, rather than relying on these tests to assess the condition of the blades, car owners should be aware of the common signs that the windscreen wipers are failing.
Signs that the wiper blades need to be replaced
Streaking: blades that are in good condition should clear the rainwater from the windscreen effortlessly, in one complete action. This means there should be no streaks of water where the blade has failed to make contact with the glass. Sometimes a loose chip from the road can strike a blade, causing it to become damaged; alternatively the wear and tear from everyday use will cause it to lose its shape and the snug fit against the windscreen will also be lost.
Unusual noises: windscreen wipers should operate with minimal noise or ideally should be silent. Sounds such as squeaks, screeches or scrapes could indicate that the blades have become worn.
Irregular movement: wiper blades which are in good condition will move smoothly across the windscreen. As they become worn over time, you may notice that the blades judder on operation which is an indication that replacement may be necessary.
Ragged or distorted blades: visually inspecting the condition of the windscreen wipers should be a weekly task for all vehicle owners. By lifting the arms of the wipers away from the windscreen, you can quickly assess the condition of the rubber. Ragged, jagged or distorted edges, where the blade makes contact with the glass, should prompt you to replace them immediately.
Why should I replace worn windscreen wipers?
Worn blades can damage your windscreen which will, in turn, cost you dearly. Any damage, even slight, to the glass directly in the line of vision of the driver is likely to mean an MOT failure. Replacement glass clearly costs considerably more than a pair of wiper blades, which can be simply slid onto the wiper arm for a very modest price.
Remember to look back!
Don’t forget to check your rear windscreen wiper periodically if your vehicle is fitted with one. Although used less often, the rear wiper blade can also become worn so include it in your weekly checklist and keep an eye out for the obvious signs that it needs replacing when it is operated.