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Check It Out: windshield wipers

Have you looked at your windshield wipers lately? Sure, you’ve probably lifted them up a hundred times since the unusually cold and snowy winter weather came to town last fall. But have you really looked at them, checked out the state of the flexible squeegee, made sure the blade arms are intact?

In addition to the ice, snow, sleet and salt abuse of the past three and a half months, those blades will soon be dragging their pathetic, winter-weary selves across the grit and crud of early spring. It’s what we in the Delaware Valley call “first spring” or “mud season,” and it’s about to add a whole new level of hurt to those little strips of rubber or synthetic that you count on to maintain safe visibility as you drive.

In general, you or your tech should check your wipers every six months and replace the blades annually because the squeegee material tends to deteriorate in extremes of temperatures even if they appear to be intact. You can sometimes buy the squeegee part alone, but often the entire blade is what you get.

In between the check-ups and planned replacement, here are some things to look for:

  • Streaks. The dirty glass that’s a staple of mud season, especially in traffic, can cause streaks when you turn on your wipers. But if you’ve cleaned the glass and you still have streaks – replace the blades.
  • Flapping. You may have yanked that wiper blade from an ice-covered windshield one time too many this winter, or the end of the squeegee is just announcing its impending departure from the rest of it. In any case, that flapper is telling you to replace the blades. For efficiency and ongoing safety, replace them all, not just the one that’s waving at you.
  • Screeching. Probably because it’s old, the sqeegee has lost any flexibility to accommodate the curve of the glass and accomplish its trademark quiet swish. Even if the wiper is still doing the job, replace the blades. In this case, your own sanity and that of your passengers may depend on it as well.

That's your torn wiper saying 'Hi, there!'

Remember, about 90 percent of driving decisions are based solely on vision (according to After Market Research). Keeping your windshield clear with new wiper blades is too easy and inexpensive a fix to allow lowered visibility to put you at a disadvantage, safety-wise.

And while you’re at it, top off the washer fluid. Spring is when many of us get caught in traffic with an empty reservoir and mud splashed across the windshield.

photo credit: TheBrady via photopin cc
photo credit: kitch via photopin cc

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