Windshield wipers are relatively small parts of a vehicle, but they make a huge difference in your ability to drive safely. Your wipers provide a clear view in adverse weather like rain and snow, so failing to maintain or replace them as needed can have serious consequences. 

As a driver, you should always prioritize safety. That's why you should make sure you understand your windshield wipers' function and the factors that influence their life span. From there, you can determine how often to replace wiper blades, identify the signs they need replacement, and decide how to choose the right wipers for your vehicle. 

Factors Influencing the Life Span of Windshield Wipers

Several different factors will influence a wiper blade's life span, so consider the following to get an idea of how long your windshield wipers should last:

  • Weather: Depending on your location, you may use your wipers more frequently in cold and wet conditions. Although the blades are designed to withstand extreme weather to ensure a clear driving view, they eventually take a beating due to exposure, wear and tear. Similarly, the rubber edges could dry out and crack if your car is parked in extreme heat for long periods, shortening their usable life span. 
  • Usage frequency: The harder and longer wipers work, the quicker they deteriorate. Maintaining them will help extend their life span.
  • Wiper blade material: Some aftermarket blades are manufactured using substandard materials, so they're likely to fail more quickly. Premium wiper blades from an original equipment manufacturer tend to last longer and perform better.
  • Vehicle type: Many windshield wipers are relatively universal, with the primary concern being finding the correct length for your vehicle. However, some luxury and specialty automobiles do require specific blades. Trying to use a universal wiper on one of these models may result in substandard performance and premature failure, assuming it fits at all. 

How Long Do Wiper Blades Last?

Under normal conditions, wiper blades are expected to last at least 12 months. However, some may endure up to two or three years, like reinforced all-season wiper blades, and any type of blade will last longer if properly maintained. Seasonal summer or winter blades are better suited for use during these periods, as they are specially designed to deal with specific weather conditions. 

Signs That Your Windshield Wipers Need Replacing

Eventually, you may start noticing signs of wear and tear on your wipers, especially as they approach the end of their project service life. Here are a few issues to watch for: 

  • Streaking: If the blades are old or worn, they may apply pressure unevenly, spreading water droplets across the windscreen that later dry and leave streaks.
  • Smearing: Similarly, damaged wiper blades often leave smears and smudges as they work. This issue usually occurs as a result of grime buildup that the wipers don't generate enough pressure to remove. 
  • Squeaking: Brittle, hard rubber blades may cause squeaking or screeching sounds while in use. Cleaning the windshield and maintaining the blades with adequate lubricant can help prevent these annoying sounds.  
  • Loose rubber: Rubber blades often loosen over time, reaching a point where they hang from the wiper arm and lose functionality. These blades should be replaced promptly to ensure the wipers work as intended.
  • Broken blade edging: When the blade edge develops missing chunks or cracks, it should be replaced. 

It's important not to ignore any signs that it's time to replace your windshield wipers. Leaving your wipers in an unfit condition may lead to an obstructed view or leave distracting streaks of grime on the glass, causing safety concerns while driving. 

How to Properly Maintain Windshield Wipers

Like any other car part, windshield wipers benefit from routine maintenance. The following wiper blade maintenance measures will help keep these components in top condition and promote greater longevity:

  • Clean them regularly: The fact that wiper blades are exposed to water isn't enough to keep them clean. Be sure to wipe them off manually on a regular basis to remove buildup you might otherwise smear across your windshield. This routine also provides a great opportunity to inspect your wipers for cracks or damage.
  • Prepare them for seasonal changes: As the seasons change, you might consider installing wipers designed to handle specific weather conditions likely to affect your region.
  • Avoid using your wipers on a dry windshield: Rubber wiper blades are designed to be used with water, so running them on dry glass will cause friction and may lead to damage. 
  • Act on signs of wear and tear: If you notice streaking, smearing, smudging or squeaking, inspect the blades to see if it's time for a replacement.
  • Park your car under cover: The sun's heat can harden your wipers' rubber if they're left exposed for long periods. When possible, park your car in the shade to prevent this issue.
  • Inspect the wiper components: Whenever you're planning a road trip or expecting nasty weather, check that your wipers and their mechanisms are working as intended before hitting the road. You'll also want to fill up on wiper fluid to ensure you can clean your windshield if road debris like slush splashes up on your vehicle and compromises visibility. 

As a rule of thumb, regularly inspecting and cleaning your windshield wipers is the best way to ensure they remain in optimal condition and deliver a long service life. 

Choosing the Right Windshield Wipers

Choosing the best wiper blades for your car involves a few factors, including:

  • Size: Wipers must be the right size to fit your vehicle. Keep in mind that many models will have different lengths for the driver and passenger sides. 
  • Vehicle make and model: Wipers are sometimes manufactured for specific vehicles. Ensure the components you select are the right fit for your car.
  • Blade durability: Summer, winter or all-season blades vary in durability and strength according to their purpose. 

Contact StockWise Auto for Windshield Wiper Parts Today

Maintaining your windshield wipers should be as routine as caring for the rest of your vehicle, especially because they ensure your safety. Their service life will ultimately vary based on the weather, wiper material and usage frequency, but you can influence their longevity by regularly inspecting and maintaining them. 

StockWise Auto is an original and replacement equipment and auto parts manufacturer. We stock updated inventory to ensure vehicle compatibility. We also have a dedicated customer care team you can reach via live chat, phone call and email for prompt, efficient service every time. 

Whether you need parts like a new wiper linkage or motor or just some new blades, we've got you covered. Call us at 877-869-5400 or reach out online if you need any assistance.