In Quebec, windshield wipers are at the mercy of all kinds of weather, so it’s important to check them regularly and take good care of them. Here’s how to go about it.
There's a widespread belief that lifting the wipers up and away from the windshield of a car that’s parked for a long period in winter helps extend the blades’ useful life. Some of you may also lift them when a storm is forecast, so that they don’t stick to the windshield if there is snow or ice buildup.
Whatever the reason, lifting your wipers isn’t a good idea. Over time, doing so is likely to reduce the pressure of the blades against the windshield, which could result in visibility issues, especially in snowy conditions.
Also, one or both wipers could snap back suddenly and cause a crack in the windshield, especially if it happens on a particularly cold winter day. To make sure your wipers remain efficient, the best thing to do is treat them right.
Good maintenance is the key
A vehicle’s windshield wipers help ensure visibility for the driver and, in turn, the safety of all occupants. Over time, the friction of the rubber blades sweeping across the windshield wears them down. The blades also suffer because of temperature extremes—as well as dirt and grime. It’s therefore an excellent idea to clean them regularly with a moist rag soaked in a little windshield-washer fluid.
If your windshield is a little worse for wear after a drive in the country, take the time to wash it by hand before activating the wipers: they will be more effective if their movement isn’t hindered by dirt. And always make sure there is plenty of windshield-washer fluid in the reservoir: using the wipers repeatedly on a dry windshield will wear out the blades much faster.
Are you in the habit of using the wipers to sweep newly fallen snow off your windshield? Bad idea! The arms and blades are somewhat delicately constructed, and could twist under the weight of the snow. When the time comes to clear snow off your vehicle, nothing beats good old-fashioned elbow grease.
The choices are almost endless
There are many different windshield wiper models, and individual vehicle owners can choose the blade type that best suits their needs and budget.
The most affordable wipers. They have sturdy metal frames and adhere to the windshield almost flawlessly, although they are more sensitive to gusts of wind. Snow and ice build up easily on the frames, which can complicate their operation.
The special rubber shield on these blades helps reduce snow and ice buildup. Although they don’t adhere perfectly to the windshield, they are an excellent choice for the winter season. They must be removed before the summer, though, to protect them from the sun and heat.
These blades cost more, but the tradeoff is that they offer optimum efficiency year-round. They are light, but their aerodynamic design protects them from wind gusts and keeps snow and ice from building up—to a certain extent.
Monitoring wiper efficiency
Lastly, it’s important to keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of wiper wear. Do they skip or “chatter” across the windshield? Do they leave unpleasant streaks? Are the ends of the blades deteriorating? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s probably time to buy new ones.
Questions on this or any other automotive question?
If you are a CAA-Quebec member, you can call our Automotive Advisory Services free of charge and as often as you wish. Our specialists are there to help you make informed, objective choices, whatever the subject of your question.
To reach them, call 1 888 471-2424 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org now.