When driving Houston’s streets and freeways, having an unobstructed view of the road is essential for safe driving. In order to keep windshields clean during wet Houston weather, wiper blades need to be in top condition. Regular inspection, cleaning and maintenance ensures proper functionality and safety whenever you are on the road.
Take time to check your windshield wipers once a month, looking for wear and tear caused by regular use. The rubber blades may become dirty or cracked, lose flexibility or begin to tear and shred. Look for any signs of rust or erosion in the metal joints as well. Inspect your wipers as soon as possible if you experience streaking or squeaking or have recently driven during a bout of severe weather. Sun, rain, ice and other conditions cause wipers to deteriorate over time, and keeping an eye out for these signs will help you avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
If your wipers are dirty, grab a pair of gloves and some windshield washer fluid or a mild detergent. Pour the cleaner on a soft cloth or ball of cotton and use it to clean off the wiper blades. Repeat until no more dirt comes off on the cloth.
Regular windshield cleaning is also important for wiper longevity. Give the auto glass a thorough cleaning every time you stop to put in gas and maintain it at home with an auto glass cleaner. Wipe down the inside as well to remove any dirt and clear the foggy film that can build up over time. Never use abrasives or petroleum-based products to clean your wiper blades or windshield.
During adverse winter weather, make sure to thoroughly thaw the windshield and remove any ice before turning on your wipers. Scraping over ice is a major cause of wear and will reduce the lifespan of the blades.
Maintaining your windshield wipers requires care of the windshield well as the wipers themselves. Thoroughly clean the windshield after driving in dirty or dusty conditions. If you discover any chips, cracks or dings in the glass as you clean, strongly consider a windshield replacement or repair. Not only can flaws cause wear and tear on your wiper blades; they can also compromise the integrity of the glass and therefore the safety of the car.
Twigs, leaves and other debris that build up in the well around the windshield can get caught under wiper blades and leave streaks while you drive. Keep this area clean and remove anything you find stuck beneath the wipers to reduce wear and ensure safety.
Be especially diligent in the winter when icy conditions require scraping of the windshield before driving. Ice can do a number on wiper blades, causing cracks and tears Never use your wiper blades to clean ice off the windshield and avoid lifting them up and snapping them down to remove stuck-on ice. Instead, elevate the blades off the surface of the windshield when you park to keep them from freezing in the first place.
Knowing When to Replace
Generally wiper blades should be replaced every six months to one year to maintain good functionality. However, depending on recent driving conditions, you may discover signs that they need to be replaced earlier. Common problems include:
- Missing pieces
- Hanging strips of rubber
- Consistent streaking during use
Houston windshields can take a beating, so if you find yourself having to replace your wipers often, consider a pair with blades made of silicone instead of rubber. These cost a little more but resist wear and last longer than rubber. For some wipers, you can purchase blade “refills” instead of replacing the entire unit to save money and keep your wipers in tip-top condition.