Finding the Perfect Windshield Wipers for Your Car

Finding the Perfect Windshield Wipers for Your Car

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Hazardous weather like rain and snow can make driving a challenge.

Wet road surfaces decrease available traction, making for longer stopping distances, less grip in corners, and slippery acceleration. 

Traction is at even more of a premium when it snows, and driving requires additional caution.

And in either scenario, outward visibility may be hard to come by, as raindrops pour down or a snow shower drops curtains of flakes in your path.

But when demanding weather conditions emerge, your windshield wipers come to the rescue, wiping away rain and snow, so you can see where you're going and make it home safely. 

It's essential to regularly change your windshield wiper blades to ensure optimum visibility when the need arises. 

What are wipers blades? How often do you need to perform windshield wipers replacement?

Let's explore the subject of windshield wiper blades and how to find the best set for your vehicle.

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What are windshield wipers?

The wipers on your car are what clear the windshield of rain, snow, or other debris so you can see the road clearly.

The mechanics of windshield wipers is relatively simple. Powered by an electric motor, a metal arm and a rubber blade pivot in a continuous motion when you turn them on. You can usually find two windshield wipers on the front of a car and one rear wiper blade. 

Typically, windshield wipers offer three speed settings: low, high, and intermittent.

The low-speed setting for windshield wipers is suitable for normal amounts of rain or snow and clears away moisture smoothly and easily. But if you find yourself in a severe storm with buckets of water or driving snow falling from the sky, the high-speed setting offers maximum clearing action. 

During periods of light rain or on-and-off moisture, the intermittent setting for a windshield wiper produces periodic swiping at a set time interval. Usually, this feature is driver-adjustable to match the current rate of rain or snow.

The rubber windshield wiper blade is what actually comes into contact with the glass, and for optimum performance, needs replacement every six months or so, particularly when you drive in an extreme climate.

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What size windshield wipers do I need?

Just like tires or brake pads, different makes and models of vehicles need different sizes of windshield wipers. 

When it's time for new wipers blades, first consult your owner's manual to find the size your vehicle came with from the factory. 

Or, stopping by your local auto parts store can provide you with the information you need to purchase the correct size windshield wiper blades. Many auto parts stores have a size chart that shows which wipers blades fit particular vehicles. And a sales associate can also assist you in picking out the car-specific blades that match your car.

How do I know what windshield wipers to buy?

Apart from determining the size windshield wiper blade that fits your vehicle, you have many choices of manufacturer — like Rain-X or Bosch — as well as the blade material and other features.

The standard type of windshield wiper blade is a rubber squeegee. Just like the tool you use to clean your windshield at a gas station, rubber squeegees efficiently wipe away moisture and tend to cost less than other options.

Winter wiper blades are heavier-duty than rubber squeegee blades, with extra rubber or plastic shielding to combat snow and ice and keep the wiper's frame working as intended. That's because if a wiper's metal frame freezes, it can no longer fully clear the windshield of moisture. 

Silicone squeegees are an upgrade over traditional rubber ones. Although these types of blades tend to cost more than their rubber counterparts, they may have double the service life and offer increased wiping capacity and quieter performance. 

Beam wiper blades emphasize flexibility so that they can better clear the windshield's surface. Beam wiper blades can cost twice as much as rubber squeegee blades, but they may work better on vehicles with contoured windshields.

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How to maintain wipers blades

With the front of your vehicle and the windshield subject to wear and tear from rain, snow, dirt, and other road debris, it's essential to check the windshield wiper blades regularly.

Over time, wipers blades may become covered in grime, which you can wipe away using alcohol diluted in water or windshield washer fluid. It's important to clean the entire blade when performing this maintenance. Afterward, be sure to rinse with water to avoid damage to your car's paint.

Periodically cleaning your windshield of buildup gives the wipers blades a clean, smooth surface to run along and increases their performance. The best way to do this is using a glass cleaner specifically formulated for automotive purposes. 

Turning on the windshield wipers from time to time helps maintain the squeegees, so they work optimally. That's because, with each stroke of a windshield wiper arm, the squeegee flips as it changes direction. If your wipers blades sit idle for too long, the squeegee may become dry and no longer be able to flip correctly.

Lastly, inspecting your windshield wiper blades for damage from time to time can alert you to the need for replacement. A dried-out or damaged squeegee can't function as intended and may present a safety hazard if you encounter difficult weather conditions. 

A good set of windshield wiper blades enhance safety and provide you with extra insurance when the weather becomes a challenge. When you buy a used car, how can you know if it's a wise purchase that will stand the test of time? With Shift's best-in-industry service contracts, you know your vehicle's good to go, mile after mile. With a Shift Vehicle Protection plan, not only are essential components covered, but you also receive roadside assistance if you run into trouble. Wherever you happen to be in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada, help is just a toll-free phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team