Tech Tip – Don’t overlook your wiper blades

Your car can have a rocket engine and a suspension tuned like a Formula One racer’s, but your performance will definitely suffer if you can’t see out the windshield. Investing 30 bucks and maybe half as many minutes on a new set of wiper blades, though, will keep you safer and make the ride more enjoyable no matter what you drive. “You don’t want to wait until you can’t see where you’re going,” said Al Arthur, parts manager for AMATO Hyundai of Milwaukee. “When you start getting streaks on the windshield, that’s when you should replace your wipers.” Being abused by winter ice, snow and salt is tough on the rubber inserts, he said, but warm, sunny weather doesn’t do them any favors either. In warm weather, they get covered with a grimy film, and sun and heat dry them out to where they develop little cracks. Arthur said that keeping wipers clean by wiping them with a dab of rubbing alcohol, or even just your fingers, won’t eliminate cracks, but will help clear the glass until you have the time to stop at a dealership to pick up a new pair.

Make sure your wiper blades are ready for spring and summer storms.

Car maintenance experts at Autoweek.com recommend you replace both wiper blades at the same time, which not only makes it easier to keep track, but also frees you from having to make multiple stops. While blades typically can last from 12 to 18 months, Autoweek says changing blades at the beginning and end of winter should help you avoid emergencies. On the other hand, an insert that starts to split should be replaced as soon as possible, Arthur said. “They can split from top to bottom pretty quickly, especially if there’s a downpour and you run them on high,” he said. Dozens of auto parts stores sell blades, but if you buy aftermarket inserts or total blade assemblies, you have to make sure they’re the right size. On the other hand, Arthur noted that a dealership will have the exact wipers that came with the vehicle when it was new. “If you buy them from us, we’ll even snap ’em in place for you for free,” he said. “It’s usually pretty easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but the most important thing is that they’re installed correctly so you can be safe.”

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