In my last blog I reviewed the importance of keeping your tires properly maintained to include correct tire pressure, tire rotation, balancing and proper alignment and monitoring the TPMS – Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The main theme was safety.
I would like to review one of the features that all roadworthy automobiles have, but most of us do not talk about this feature or even care about this feature on our vehicles until it is time to use it. What feature on our automobile is it? The windshield wipers.
We have been having an unusual amount of rain during the past week in the El Paso area and I saw vehicles on the road with windshield wipers that were not performing as they should perform. I saw a car that had the windshield wipers on during the rain and the wipers were merely smearing the water and making it more difficult for the driver to see the road clearly.
I would like to talk about the importance of keeping your wiper blades in good condition, so when you need them, they work perfectly.
You should always review and abide by your owner’s manual for the recommended size, brand, or brands and how often they recommend changing your wiper blades based on your environment and driving conditions. You should also replace your blades if you notice them skipping, streaking, splitting, and squeaking.
The weather is a direct factor for wearing down your wiper blades. With freezing temperatures, the rubber of your wiper blades becomes hard and brittle. Hard and brittle blades are more likely to crack or tear, making them ineffective. The hot weather we have here in El Paso, Texas makes the rubber of the wiper blade warped, so it cannot wipe the windshield cleanly.
Wiper blades are made of rubber, so they naturally wear out after several months of wiping snow, rain, and dust from your windshield. You could take your car to an automotive technician to have them changed, but sometimes it is just as easy to change them yourself. The fitting process is identical for most cars on the road. If you do not feel comfortable changing the blades yourself, you can take your vehicle to one of the automotive parts stores and ask them if you purchase the blades from them, will they install them? I believe they will provide the service for free but ask before you purchase your wiper blades at their location.
There are many brands of wiper blades, and they vary in price, but I believe the less expensive blades do as fine a job of cleaning a car windshield when new. The same applies to generic wiper blades versus well-known brand names. Differences in noise, streaking or cleaning ability has more to do with keeping your blades clean rather than the material. For example, I used to buy generic wiper blades for a Subaru Forester that I drove for many years. Generic wiper blades performed as well as the blades that I could have purchased at Subaru. I now drive a Volkswagen Passat and I will only use the VW wiper blades. They are more expensive, but they are engineered specifically for the aerodynamics of the VW Passat.
The type of windshield washer fluid that you use is also very important. It is important to check the level of your windshield washer fluid to make sure you will have enough in the reservoir for your next trip.
Choose the windshield washer fluid that is designed for the climate where you will be driving. Sometimes the label may read all-season or winter windshield fluid. However, it should also show the lowest temperature the windshield washer fluid can perform, such as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If in doubt, refer to your owner’s manual.
The bad news about wiper fluid is that it’s typically made of ethanol or methanol, which are poisonous for people and animals and can be damaging to the environment. Wiper fluid also usually includes a dose of ethylene glycol, a toxic alcohol used in automotive antifreeze, so it is very dangerous for animals that may drink excess on the ground if you spill fluid from your reservoir.
I would like to end this blog by asking you to do a few simple things.
When you have time, review the windshield wiper section in your owner’s manual to become familiar with the specifications and recommendations that the manufacturer requires.
At least once a month physically inspect the wiper blades to see if they are hard and brittle, cracked or warping.
At least once a month check your windshield wiper fluid. Remember when filling the windshield wiper fluid reservoir, be careful not to overfill or spill the windshield wiper fluid because it can contain a chemical that can harm animals.
If you follow these simple maintenance procedures for your windshield wipers, they will perform at optimum efficiency. This could be the difference between a safe drive to your destination or an accident. Take a few minutes every month to review the condition of your windshield wipers and your windshield wiper fluid levels. This will help you have a safe journey the next time you have to use your windshield wipers.