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What a great time of year this is for holiday gatherings, great food … and, ick, inclement weather.

Nearly ninety percent of all driving decisions are based on a clear view of the road, which means good visibility is absolutely essential — especially during wet weather when vision may be obscured by water, road splash, sleet or snow on the windshield.

Yet, wiper blades are one of the most neglected components on vehicles today. Many blades are cracked, split, torn, brittle, worn or otherwise in obvious need of replacement. Others may look okay, but do a lousy job of wiping when put to the test. Any blade that’s chattering, streaking or doing a lousy job of wiping is a blade that’s overdue for replacement.

Most experts say wiper blades should be replaced every six to twelve months for optimum performance and driving visibility. This is why we suggest doing during our spring and fall specials.

Exposure to sunlight and ozone causes the rubber to age, even if the wipers aren’t used much. Cold weather can affect blade life, too. Freezing temperatures makes rubber hard and brittle, which increases the tendency to crack and split. Heavy use can be hard on wiper blades, too, because dust, abrasives, road grime and even bug juice wear away the edge that the blades need to wipe cleanly.

A simple check is to try your windshield washers. If the blades are not in good condition, you’ll see why when they attempt to wipe the washer solvent off the glass. This test also gives you the opportunity to check your windshield washer system.

  • Do both squirters work?
  • Does the spray hit the windshield where it is supposed to?
  • Does the washer pump deliver an adequate stream of solvent?

How well the wiper blades perform also depends on the condition of the wiper arms and holders. A blade’s wiping ability is affected by the amount of spring tension on the wiper arm. If the blades can be pulled away from the glass with little resistance, it’s time for new arms.

Check the rear wiper too if your vehicle has a rear wiper system. Many sport utility vehicles, vans, minivans, station wagons, hatchbacks and fastbacks do. After all, it’s just as important to see what’s behind you when backing up in the rain as it is to see what’s ahead.


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