It’s impossible to drive safely without a clear view of the road ahead, especially in adverse weather conditions. Your car’s windscreen wipers are there to keep your windshield clean and clear, wiping away water and other debris to make sure you have good visibility as you drive.
It’s important to check your windscreen wipers regularly and take good care of them, to cut down on wear and tear and ensure they are always in good working order.
Legal Requirements for Windscreen Wipers
According to the National Road Traffic Act, no motorist is allowed to operate a vehicle that is not fitted with at least one windscreen wiper in operating condition. In order for a vehicle to be considered roadworthy, all wipers must be operational and in good condition (i.e. not worn).
Tell-Tale Signs of Worn Wipers
Look out for these signs that your wipers have become worn and need to be replaced.
- Streaking: When the rubber blade of your wiper becomes hardened and cracked, it will leave gaps where water is not properly removed from your windscreen. This will result in streaks, lines or bands across the windshield.
- Skipping: If the wiper blade lip becomes deformed, it can “skip” across the windscreen causing a veil effect.
- Lifting: If the wiper misses out parts of the windscreen due to lifting, either the blade or the arm should be replaced.
- Squeaking: This either means that the wiper element has become misshapen or hardened, or the wiper blade is worn.
- Vibrating: Wear and tear on the rubber blade and links can cause the wiper to make jerky, noisy movements across the windscreen.
Driving with faulty windscreen wipers can seriously affect your view of the road, which puts you and other motorists at risk. As soon as you notice that your wipers are under-performing, have them replaced or repaired by a professional mechanic.
What Causes Damage to Windscreen Wipers?
- Heavy use causes wear on wipers, as dust and abrasives affect the edge of the blades.
- Dirt, oil and airborne contaminants also cause wear and tear on the rubber of the blades.
- Moisture is another factor – acidic rain and salt water can affect the wiper blades too.
- Extreme weather affects wipers. Freezing temperatures make the blades stiff and brittle, while extreme heat can cause the rubber to warp.
- Plain old ageing will also affect your wiper blades over time, even if you don’t need to use them often. Old wipers lose their flexibility and effectiveness.
How to Maintain your Windscreen Wipers
- Have your windshield cleaned every time you fill up with petrol.
- Regularly remove loose dirt and soil from the rubber blades by wiping them gently with a damp paper towel.
- Try to park your vehicle in a garage or undercover in extreme weather conditions.
- Do not use your wipers to clear mud and soil from your windscreen, as this will scratch the glass.
- Do not use your wipers to clear ice or frost from your windshield. Use an ice scraper instead.
Get your windscreen wipers checked to make sure you can drive with confidence come rain or shine.