Man examining windscreen wiper blades on automobile.
May 2020

Guide to Windshield Wiper Blades

Living in a sunny country like South Africa, windscreen wiper blades often get overlooked – until it rains. Yet, they play such an important role in road safety that they should be kept in good condition consistently. This is so easy that you can perform regular wiper blade maintenance yourself to prolong their lifespan. All it takes is a quick monthly inspection and cleaning.

What Causes Wiper Blades Wear to Out?

It matters little whether you experience dry summers or wet winters, your car’s wiper blades have a limited lifespan. However, environmental factors certainly play a major role in their deterioration – in fact, more so than actual usage. Depending on which part of the country you’re in and where you park daily, wiper blades can last on average between 6 to 24 months. These are the most common causes that cause deterioration:

  • Heat – Worn wiper blades are most commonly caused by heat and ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • Oil, wax, sand, grit – Silicone blades are more resistant to deterioration than the rubber variety, but caring for your existing rubber blades will help them to last longer.

5 Common Windscreen Wiper Blade Problems and Tips

  1. Skipping/chattering – This can happen when the vertebra or frame of the blade becomes bent, curved, or warped, sometimes caused by lack of use, causing contact between the glass and the rubber to become inconsistent. Badly bent blades should be completely replaced as distorted blades can cause damage to your windscreen.

Tip: Check that your wiper fluid is topped up, as wiper fluid adds 'wetness' to water, helping the wipers glide more easily.

  1. Streaking – Unless your wiper blade has accumulated foreign objects or substances, such as tree sap or road tar in the squeegee, streaking can happen when the rubber becomes hard and dry and eventually begins to crack.

Tip: Keep your windscreen wiper blades soft by cleaning them regularly with rubbing alcohol or a rubber protectant.

  1. Smearing – Bugs, oil, bird droppings, or tree sap can all contribute to an even more messy windscreen as soon the wipers are turned on – so can dirt build-up on the wipers themselves.

Tip: Keep dirt and grime accumulating on your wiper blades by wiping them with a clean cloth dampened with white vinegar.

  1. Squeaking – This noise could be caused by too much tension or friction between the glass and the rubber.

Tip: Check that the blades or wipers are not too tight against the windshield.

  1. Split wiping –  Rubber squeegees that have aged lose flexibility and softness, making it difficult for them to maintain proper contact along the length of the rubber. Sun damage on the rubber can also cause damage to the squeegee.

Tip: Rubbing alcohol will keep the blades soft, but blades that are too old should be replaced. Although petroleum-based products help to soften rubber blades temporarily – they can make the situation worse over time.

In a country where we depend so much on our cars for everyday transportation, as mundane as wiper blades may seem, they are a critical safety aspect of driving. Keeping them well-maintained contributes towards continued proper visibility while driving, as well as prolong their life three times over.

Overall, keeping your car in good condition means you’ll likely be able to trade it in or sell it for a better price when the time comes. Auto Pedigree’s Vehicle Interior & Exterior Maintenance product helps minimise wear and maximise its value. For more information

contact your nearest Auto Pedigree dealer.

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Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.