One of the easiest parts of the car to forget about are its wipers, but you shouldn't as they are an integral part of the car, especially now during the rainy season.
One of the most forgotten items on a car is its wipers. Although they serve as one of the most essential parts of the vehicle, most motorist just do not give them enough attention - but they should, because it is a safety aspect as much as it is a convenience.
Windscreen wipers on cars are used to remove rain, snow, ice, debris or impurities that fall on the windscreen. It's essential because it is the difference between a bad vision of the road or a good one. Much of the credit given to creating the wipers went to American, Mary Anderson who created the first operational wiper in 1903.
Now that we know a little bit about who created them and what they are for let's look at how to clean them, when to replace them, how to choose them and how to care for them.
How to clean them?
Ever notice that sometimes your wipers may leave streaks or smears on the windshield? One of the reasons for this is simply because they are dirty, and not necessarily because they need replacing. This is especially so if you have just installed new ones and after a few weeks or months they are not working as expected.
They are most likely not bad but just covered with debris which is preventing the blades from making contact with the windshield. Simply wiping down the blades with a clean, lint-free cloth can rejuvenate them to be as good as new.
It's also best practice to wipe them down every so often as it will prevent the blades themselves from sustaining damage from contact with dirt or debris. By doing this simple chore, you can save tons of money by not replacing your wiper blades as often.
When to replace them?
As a simple rule of thumb, you should change your wiper blades as soon as they do not operate optimally (that's if you've cleaned them and they are still bad of course). This will not only help with your vision of the road ahead when driving in the rain, but it will also save your windscreen from being scratched up (when this happens it's a massive problem).
If you notice your wipers not removing water off properly or that there are missed patches on the windscreen, then it's probably time to buy new wiper blades.
It's been said that it is a good idea to change your wiper blades every six to twelve months and this is especially so for people who park their cars in the sun which causes accelerated damage to the wipers. By changing them early and regularly, you are able to forget most of the problems that are associated with improperly functioning wiper blades.
How to choose them?
The first thing to know when choosing new wipers is the vehicle's wiper blade length and attachment type. Every car has different lengths and different attachments. Some are side-lock, top-lock, pinch-tab, bayonet and slim-top. Apart from the length, it's crucial to know the attachment type or else they simply won't fit.
We're lucky we live in the fast world of the world wide web, and a simple search should give you the appropriate answer. Some wiper manufacturers like Bosch include many adapters with their wipers which make them very versatile.
Once this is established, it's time to narrow down what type of wipers you want. Generally, the three most popular type of wiper blades are flat blades, hybrid blades and standard blades.
As the name implies, standard blades are just conventional blades. They are usually made from metal or a metal-plastic composite, comprising a central bridge and articulated links that provides between 4 and 8 pressure points, depending on the length of the blade.
Up until a few years ago, most cars just came with standard blades, but more and more new cars now come with flat blades. They are discreet which blocks less of a drivers field of vision as well as have even pressure points thanks to airflow. Flat windscreen wipers feature tensioned metal flexors supporting the rubber element with a full length integrated spoiler to use the pressure generated by the air flow. This allows for a flatter aerodynamic shape that reduces wind noise as well.
Hybrid blades are a mixture of standard and flat wiper blades. They enjoy both aerodynamic properties and appearance of flat windscreen wipers with the performance and value for money of conventional windscreen wipers.
How to care for them?
Now that you have new wiper blades, let's look at some techniques used to care for them so that they last for the longest possible time.
If you ever park in the sun, lift your wiper blades away from the windshield, as the heat will bake your wipers, causing it to lose shape and at the same time taking out some flexibility of the rubber. The heat will also make the rubber hard and brittle in the long run.
This one is a given really, but never operate your wipers when they are dry. They work best when there is some moisture on it, either from the rain of your windscreen washers.
Wash your wiper blades as much as possible as they are likely to pick up some debris from being used. You could be really meticulous about it by removing them and soaking them in water before wiping them off, but we think a quick wash while they are attached to the car will suffice.
Changing wiper blades yourself is not a difficult task. Although it seems complex, it's actually quite easy. With the many guides on Youtube and Google, it's become easier than ever to do so.
Pro Tip: Buy your own wiper blades and change them yourself and you'll easily find out that they are not as expensive as some garages are charging. It's also a good chance for a wiper upgrade as most shops still sell conventional wipers.