When Is It Time to Change Your Wiper Blades?

There are two types of drivers… 1) “I just put in the key and go” and 2)” I wonder if this car needs maintenance”. For most drivers, too many years will go by without a wiper blade change. In fact, those poor wipers probably resemble angel hair pasta, or they clear the glass like a wet newspaper, and we both know that it has been years since replaced. That said, this practice is probably not recommended by national highway traffic safety administration (NHTSA). In fact, here is a list of clear signs that tell you “hey dingus, your wipers need a changing!” 

1. Streaks

Wiper blades essentially have one job: to wipe clear your windshield of rain, snow, sleet and other road elements. This is actually a hefty task and over time, the poor blades simply wear out. They take a good pummeling, so cut ‘em a little slack. There are a couple reasons why your wipers are streaking:

  • Most frequently, your blade is just worn out. the wiper is completely ineffective when the element (the rubber part) is tattered and living on its last breath.
  • The element is dryer than a saltine cracker. If you live in a sunny dry climate, it is more likely that the rubber element of a wiper will dry out sooner. Over time, heat and UV rays relentlessly bake the blades which reduces the value of the rubber compound. Once this happens, it loses its windshield glide-ability…. If that’s a word.

2. Squeaks and Squeals

Squeak…… Squeak……. Squeak….. I am getting annoyed just typing this. If your wiper blades sound like SpongeBob walking, there’s something wrong. Squeaky blades can be a sign of other issues:

  • The windshield has stocked up gunk and grime that can be wiped away with window cleaner and a squeegee.
  • The windshield is not moist enough. Have you tried a slip and slide without water? Not recommended…. So keep up with your washer fluid refills.
  • Your rubber element is worn and/or damaged to the point where actual wiper structure is touching the glass. This is bad…. Very bad.

3. Chatter

ch-ch-chatter is another unfortunate reality of a wiper blade owner. In addition to the aforementioned issues, the following factors can be root causes. But at the end of the day, keeping up with your car maintenance is the best way to go. I’m only looking out for you…. Because I care.

  • “Permanent set” is a term used to describe wiper blades exposed to extreme heat and the rubber tip is now fixed in one position. Wiping elements need the ability to pivot or “wag” back and forth to effectively clear the windshield. More premium wiper blades are designed to resist this issue and will last much longer
  • Similarly, “cold set” occurs to blades left vulnerable to frigid temperatures. The element will stiffen and lose much of its wiping abilities. Luckily, once defrosted, the element is restored to its prior state. Again, better blades with better rubber formulas will perform and even extreme low outside temps.


Wipers are like tires, engine oil, and my patience …they all tend to wear out over time. Maybe you don’t pay attention to your wipers or on the contrary, you are emotionally attached to them…either way, the old timer needs to retire. Think about it, while you are safely tucked in your driver seat, your blades are exposed to a harsh driving environment: sun snow, road debris, sleet, rain, bugs, bird droppings etc…. A good rule of thumb is to change your blades every 6 months. Now go get a fresh pair of blades….and yet you are still reading this…go!!