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Automotive Parts: When to change your wiper blades

March 23, 2011

ARA Report

Clear vision is essential to safe driving, especially in the wintertime. Neglect your wiper blades, and you may find yourself in hazardous weather situations with limited vision.

The most important aspect of driving is being aware of your surroundings. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, a driver’s best friend is a set of wiper blades that leave your windshield with a consistent, clean, clear wipe.

Not only is a clean windshield a necessity during rain, snow and sleet, but how many times have you experienced a windshield that is smeared with insects, bird droppings, road tar or other messy deposits? Removing such dirt with worn wiper blades is nearly impossible. Usually, you wind up smearing the mess and obscuring your vision even more.

If you change your blades regularly, you can avoid these problems and keep your eyes clearly on the road.

Knowing when to change your blades

So when should you change your wiper blades? When a blade is past its physical prime, it will show wear signs like cracking or discoloration. Another indicator that it’s time for new wiper blades is by the quality of the wipe. Streaking or unwiped areas are a dead giveaway.

If the blades make noise or chattering sounds, then they need to be replaced. On some newer blades, such as PEAK Valeo SmartBlade, there is a built-in wear indicator that recognizes diminished blade performance. By taking one glance at the indicator, you will know when they need replacing.

How often should you replace your blades?

If your blades don’t have a special indicator, the National Highway Transportation Board recommends that drivers change their wiper blades, at minimum, every year. However, the average vehicle owner replaces his/her wiper blades only once every 2.5 years.

“Most people wait until they are in a downpour and nearly drive off the road before they are convinced it’s time to change blades,” says Jenifer Maddox, product manager for PEAK Automotive Products.

Some blades, such as the SmartBlade, even come with simple connector systems that make installing the blades on any vehicle a snap, so there is no excuse for not replacing worn out blades.

If you’ve been procrastinating about changing your windshield wiper blades, take a few minutes today to change them. You’ll be glad you did when your windows are clear and dry.

From the March 23-29 issue

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