When you own a vehicle, there is some general maintenance you need to stay on top of; such as changing the oil, checking tire pressure, and keeping your wiper blades up to par. Most vehicles are driven, rain or shine, winter or summer and depend heavily on their windshield wipers for driving safety. Let's take a closer look.
How can I maintain my wiper blades?
Here's a few tips to help get the most life out of your wiper blades.
- Clean your windshield every time you fill up with gas.
- Wipe the rubber blade with a damp paper towel to remove oil or dirt. Sometimes oil from gas station squeegees will leave a thin film buildup on the rubber, which in turn causes the blades to make less-than-optimal contact.
- Don't use the wipers to clear ice or snow from the windshield. Windshield wipers are meant for cleaning condensation, debris and very light snow or ice from windshields; not for removing snow or ice build-up. Use an ice scraper or brush.
- In winter conditions, pull the wipers away from the windshield when parked. This will help prevent ice buildup that can cause the rubber to stick to the windshield, which can damage the rubber.
- Keep your windshield wiper fluid full and, in dry weather, always use wiper fluid when cleaning the windshield. When the blades pull across a dry windshield, the lack of moisture can damage the rubber, or even lead to scrapes in the glass.
What about windshield cleaning?
Let's not overlook the important role of windshield washer fluid, to ensure proper wiper operation. Here are three quick tips to extend the life of your wiper blades and improve visibility on the road:
- Always keep your windshield wiper fluid filled.
- Use wiper fluid, not tap water, for cleaning. In the winter, tap water can freeze, rendering it inoperable until it thaws. Tap water can also attract bacteria if it sits for too long. Windshield washer fluid includes ingredients specifically designed for the job; usually methanol and ethylene glycol. Many also have small amounts of antifreeze so it won't freeze in the winter.
- Never run your wipers over a dry windshield; always use fluid when cleaning.
How do I know when to replace my wiper blades?
Wiper blades, while seemingly simple, are marvels of engineering ingenuity. They act as “squeegees” and the key to good wiper performance is consistent, even pressure on the glass across the length of the rubber blade. Let's take look at what can go wrong and when you should replace your wiper blades.
Most experts recommend changing your wiper blades every six to 12 months as part of general maintenance. Additionally, if your wipers show any of these symptoms, it's also time to replace your blades:
- Leave streaks or smears on the windshield
- Make a chattering noise on a wet windshield. The frame might be bent or the rubber might be worn; but whatever the cause it means they're not hitting the glass properly.
- Skip over parts of the windshield when in use.
- Are cracked, split or ripped. Eventually the rubber will deteriorate and start to rip away from the frame. The rubber can also crack or split or develop small nicks, or the edges can become rounded. Any of this will make for poorer contact with the glass.
- When the rubber becomes dried out or hardened, which will happen over time. The rubber loses its flexibility and will contribute to streaking.
- Have bent frames. There are plenty of ways wiper frames can get bent – usually from snow or ice, or carwash mishaps. Whatever the reason, if the frame becomes bent, it'll decrease window contact and be less effective.
How do I choose the right wiper blade?
If you'd like to tackle the job yourself, make sure to purchase the right blade for your vehicle, as driver and passenger-sides are often different lengths, and attaching method applications may vary as well. Replacement blades should always include instructions as to how to install the blades properly to ensure safe driving.
Your service experts at your local Ford dealership can quickly look up the correct application and blade size for your vehicle, and replace them for you. Motorcraft® windshield wiper blades are right for any kind of weather, helping to provide improved visibility mile after mile. They're a sure fit for any Ford Motor Company vehicle, as well as 95% of competitive makes and models. Some wipers even include a wear indicator that changes from black to yellow to alert the driver when it's time to replace the blade.
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