Windshield wipers are among the most crucial safety features on your car. Yet, statistics show that 7 out of 10 cars on the road need new wiper blades, and an even higher percentage have some trouble in the wiper system. Here's how to maintain your windshield wiper system:
Blades which hold the rubber "squeegees" or refills should be changed every one to two years. The rubber refills should be replaced about twice a year, in the spring and fall. If wipers receive greater than average use, or you leave your car outdoors, change blades and refills more frequently. Always replace in pairs.
Windshield wiper arms should be checked, too, for proper alignment. Insert a business card between the windshield and the rubber refill when the arm is at midarc. If at some point the windshield does not contact the refill, the wiper arm needs realigning.
The windshield washer fluid reservoir should be checked monthly and refilled as needed. In the winter, check it weekly. Don't get caught with an empty reservoir when the windshield gets splashed with dirt!
"Chattering" describes the noise and jerky motion that occurs when the windshield wipers fail to glide smoothly across the windshield. Check the following possible causes:
a) the rubber refills are worn
b) the blades are installed improperly
c) the arm tension needs adjusting
d) worn linkage
Apply lubricant to the transmission arms and pivot shaft assemblies in the windshield wiper motor once a year to prevent wear. If the motor fails to turn on, shut off or return to the park position, it should be checked and serviced by a professional.
Windshield wiper and washer systems need special care during the winter because snow and ice can damage the system. Lift wiper blades carefully from a frozen windshield before cleaning to prevent rubber refills from tearing or cracking.
Also, remove packed snow and ice from the windshield before turning off the wipers. If the blades cannot reach the bottom of their arc, the wiper's motor may still draw current after it's turned off - burning out a fuse or causing motor damage.