Most of the time, your windshield wipers just sit at the base of the windshield, forgotten — until the weather changes for the worse. Then you turn the wipers on, expecting them to perform flawlessly. In Chicago, whether it’s snow, rain, or sleet, you depend on the windshield wipers to help you drive safely in inclement weather.
But wiper blades wear out, and things can go wrong with the mechanisms that drive them. Milito’s Auto Repair partner, Repair Pal, looks at the issues that keep windshield wipers (and washers) from doing their job, providing us with some great troubleshooting tips.
The history behind the wipers.
Windshield wiper design has changed very little since the part was first invented in 1903 — though the way it’s powered has advanced with technology. The earliest wipers were manually operated, and the first automated wipers received a patent in 1922. These were vacuum-powered, and were popular until around 1960, when electric-powered wipers took over.
How do windshield wipers work?
The rotary motion of your spinning wiper motor is converted to the back-and-forth motion of the wipers by a linkage that is somewhat similar to what you would see on a steam locomotive. The rubber blades attached to the wiper arms then clear your windshield.
Your windshield washer system backs up the proper operation of your wipers. It pumps a concentrated, pressurized stream of water or cleaning solution onto the windshield, where the wipers can spread it around and clear the glass for you.
If your wipers are smearing
Wiper blades that leave streaks or smears are a common malady. They may be worn out — but before you go replacing them, try cleaning your windshield thoroughly. Be sure to get all the oil, dirt, bugs and other encrusted stuff off. Now clean the edges of your wiper blades. See if your wipers’ performance improves.
If you still see streaks or smears, the rubber on your blades is probably just old and worn out. Wiper blades are a wear item, like your brakes and your tires. Eventually they will age and need replacement.
Wipers get worn down by the following:
Exposure to sun, air pollutants and smog, all of which dry out and crack the rubber
A dirty environment, where constant cleaning of dirt from your windshield can grind away the smooth edge on your blades
Regularly running your blades on a frozen windshield, causing premature wear
Replace your wiper blades. This is an easy and inexpensive fix. Your nearest auto supply store will have replacements. Check your owner’s manual or do some online research to find out what size wiper blades you need. You should replace your blades at least once a year, and maybe every six months if you live in a sunny, dry climate or a place with other extreme weather, like Chicago. If you want to really be prepared, buy a second set and keep them in your car.
Your Safety Matters at Milito’s
Milito’s Auto Repair offers high-quality wiper blades from Bosch®, or can source any type of wiper blade you desire, even OEM blades. Plus, we’ll install the for free when you stop by, 7 days a week!
Your safety and the safety of those around you is of utmost importance to us. Thanks, Repair Pal, for these quick tips!