Picture this: you're driving along a dark and deserted road at night. The rain is thundering against your windscreen, far faster than your wiper blades can keep up with. Your vision is blurred by smeared streaks across your windscreen, and the only thing you can hear above the roar of the rain is the squeaking of your blades against the glass as they struggle to keep up with the downpour...
You increase the speed of your wipers, but that just makes everything worse! Now you're too nervous to keep driving, but you're afraid to pull over because you can't see what's on the side of the road.
This is every driver's nightmare, and unfortunately a frightening reality for some. So, how do you avoid this worse-case scenario?
You replace your windscreen wiper blades in time.
A quick Google search will tell you that vehicle wiper blades should be replaced roughly every 6–12 months. But why let your life be led by arbitrary timelines on the internet? There are much more obvious signs that you need new wiper blades, and they have nothing to do with what the World Wide Web tells you. Instead, you should listen to what your car is telling you.
Here are three signs your wiper blades are due for replacing:
Squeaking: Your blades squeal with every stroke
Put simply – if you can hear your wiper blades, you need new ones. Not only because they can distract you from the road ahead (leading to potentially deadly consequences), but because it's highly likely your blades have reached the end of their life. This could be due to a torn or brittle blade edge, crummy rubber quality or a manufacturing defect. Either way, friction is being created between your blades and the windscreen, and the squeaks it's causing is telling you it's time to treat your car to new wiper blades.
Shuddering: Smooth wipes have been replaced by shaky scrapes
If your blades are juddering around on your windscreen, this is a sure-fire sign you're in need of new blades. This could mean your car is equipped with cheap wipers (made from poor quality rubber), your wipers aren't properly designed for your vehicle, or they were poorly installed. The other cause of shaky blades is old and worn-out wipers. This could mean stiff or cracked rubber, or even broken frame parts. Either way, it's time to upgrade to a new set.
All of the above are signs your car is due for new wiper blades.
To avoid encountering any of these issues in the near future, make sure when you're shopping for a replacement that you opt to replace with a wiper blade that features a beam blade structure and premium natural rubber blades. Plus – and this is important – make sure they come with a solid warranty. Ideally, one that covers both fitment and performance issues (the longer the better). After all, no one wants wipers on their car that aren't guaranteed to do the job.
Not quite ready to replace your windshield wipers?
There are some other steps you can take in the meantime to improve your vehicle's current windshield wipers. Plus follow these steps once you replace your old ones to ensure your new wipers last as long as they can. Nothing wears out wipers faster than grime and a dirty windshield. Make sure you regularly wash your windshield properly. For lots of great tips for looking after your windshield wipers sign up for our email newsletter, plus follow this guide to clean your windscreen and wiper rubber in 5 minutes or less.
Otherwise, it's a great idea to fill your washer tank and ad windshield wiper fluid to your washer tank. Windshield washer fluid reduces friction on the windscreen glass and helps to prevent streaks and reduces wear and tear on the rubber blade. Changing your wipers to get your vehicle ready for winter? Check out this guide to the top 4 things you should check to make sure your vehicle is safe this winter, no matter how much ice or winter rain.
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Vijay Sitaram is a car lover at heart and has spent the last 12 years fitting, designing, testing and thinking about wiper blades. He holds a Bachelor's degree and honours in Automotive Engineering from RMIT University and is the founder of Wipertech, Australia's #1 rated Vehicle Accessory store. You can find Vijay on LinkedIn here.