CARS.COM — If your windshield wiper blades leave streaks and smears, or if they scrape and chatter even when there is plenty of moisture on the glass, your car could need new wiper blades. If in bad weather you find yourself ducking and dodging your head like a boxer to see out your car’s windshield between the streaking of your windshield wipers, you could definitely need new wiper blades.
Let your eyes and common sense dictate when to change wiper blades on your car for safe driving. Wiper blades should be able to easily clear water, snow and slush. This is especially true if you live in an area where salt is used on the roads because dried salt can diminish visibility and practically make a windshield opaque. If you pull a wiper arm away from the windshield of the vehicle, you might find wear, tears or cracks in the wiper’s rubber or plastic — other signs your wiper blades need replacement.
Before you replace the blades, though, try wiping them clean with a damp cloth and make sure the wiper arm isn’t bent or broken and that the blade sits snugly on the glass. Sometimes just lifting the windshield wiper’s arm off the glass and letting it snap back into place will make the blade’s rubber seat more snugly on the glass and work better to improve visibility when you drive.
Wiper blades are inexpensive (typically less than $20 for a pair on most vehicles), and some auto parts stores will install them at no charge, so when in doubt, replace them now — before you need new ones. At the same time, if you own an SUV, minivan or hatchback, you should also check the rear-window wiper to ensure better visibility out the back, a spot that’s easy to forget but crucial for safety all the same.
For more on windshield wiper blades and when to replace them, check out the video below.
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