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What You Need to Know About Your Windshield Wipers

Whether they’re battling snow or rain, your windshield wipers are an important part of your vehicle. They help you see through the harshest conditions, but do you know how often you should replace them, or how to tell when they need replacing? This is a quick guide that you can use to keep your wipers working for you year-round.

How to care for your wipers

Wear and tear on your wipers is to be expected, but how can you prevent excessive damage from happening? There are a few ways you can prevent your wipers from needing to be replaced faster than they should.

Avoid using your wipers on dry surfaces

Your wipers are designed to be used with liquid, so if you’re running your wipers on a dry surface, it can cause the rubber blades to become damaged more quickly. Using your washer fluid before you clean the windshield from salt, pollen or just good old-fashioned dirt will keep your blades working properly for longer.

Also, when you stop to get gas, if there is a squeegee available, use it! Your wipers can only do so much, so if you manually clean your window it will get the dirt and grime that your wipers couldn’t get which can build up and damage the blades.

Winter care

Winter is tough on your car, and your wipers aren’t immune from it. There is a lot of debate over whether to lift your wipers or leave them down during winter weather. Both have their positives and negatives:

Lifting wipers


  • Blades don’t freeze to the windshield
  • Easier to scrape the ice and snow away


  • Wipers could fall and crack your windshield
  • Blades aren’t protected from freezing rain

Leaving wipers down


  • Less strain on the mechanisms/arms of the wipers
  • Wiper blades warm up as your car does making them more effective when you drive


  • Lifting them to scrape the windshield too early can cause the blades to tear
  • If wipers are left ‘on’ accidentally, it can cause strain on the wiper motor

CAR FOX tip: There is an alternative that can be equally as effective as both options though: if a storm is coming, put a blanket over your windshield and weight it down. This way you can simply remove the blanket and your windshield is clear!

When to replace your wipers

A general rule of thumb is to replace your wipers every 6 months, or when the seasons change from winter (or harsh) weather to warmer weather. This may vary depending on where you live, how often your wipers are used or if you notice that they’re becoming ineffective.

If you notice streaks or gaps when you use your wipers, it might be time to replace them.

Inspecting your blades for damage

To check your wipers for damage is relatively simple.

Man inspection wipers
  1. Lift up the windshield wiper arm. If it doesn’t lock into place, just hold the arm up
  2. Using a cloth damp with glass cleaner or diluted water, wipe the rubber edge of the blade. Be sure to cover the whole rubber blade; cleaning this will make it obvious whether the blade is damaged or if it has dirt or build-up on it.
  3. Check the edge of the rubber blade with a finger by rubbing along the edge. You can usually feel the splits, cracks, or tears in it, and if you do it’s time to replace your wipers.

Another sign is if there is a distinct skipping sound. If it seems like the wipers are bouncing slightly on the windshield causing your view to be obstructed, the wiper most likely needs to be replaced.

Finally, if you see that there are sections on your windshield that don’t seem to get clear no matter how much washer fluid you use, this could mean that the wiper is no longer hitting the glass due to old rubber or the frame of the wiper blade is bent. If that’s the case, it’s time to get replacements.

Not sure what size of windshield wiper you need? Each vehicle has its own specific type of blades, so make sure you take a moment and research which to get.

Your wipers are vital to seeing what’s on the horizon, so it’s important that care is given to them so you can continue to be safe on the road. Read more about your car’s maintenance schedule with our handy Maintenance Guide, and stay up-to-date with your car’s service, recalls and more with CARFAX Canada Car Care.