When it comes to windshield wipers, you typically don’t realize there is an issue until you need them the most.
Have you ever been in a torrential downpour only to realize your windshield wipers are performing at a less than adequate level? Sometimes they skip, sometimes they streak, and sometimes they are even falling apart, but regardless of the issue, being able to diagnose and fix the problem quickly are essential skills.
In this article, we will cover how to stop your windshield wipers from skipping as well as how to troubleshoot and fix some other common issues.
Why is my windshield wiper skipping?
There is no one universal reason that causes windshield wipers to skip, but instead, there are several possible issues.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to pinpoint the exact reason your windshield wiper is skipping and then take the needed measures to rectify the problem. The best news is it doesn’t require much time or money.
- Clean your window – By cleaning your dirty windshield, you are eliminating any chances that the skipping is simply being caused by debris left on the windshield. If you clean the windshield and run your wipers without any skipping, you’ve solved the problem easily and with only the cost of glass cleaner! When you clean your window make sure to always lift the wiper arm, so you can clean the area where they rest on the glass.
- Clean the blades – Try cleaning your blades once you’ve cleaned the window. Wiper blades are often neglected and by simply cleaning them it could solve the issue. (I’ll cover the steps to clean the blades later in this article. )
- Check the blades for wear – If you’ve cleaned the blade and the window and the skipping persists, you probably need new blades. Check for any knicks or obvious signs of wear and tear. Also, check that the angle is accurate and the wipers have been installed correctly. You’ll know if it’s an installation issue because the blade will not lay flat against the glass.
Diagnosing a skipping windshield wiper doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Clean all the parts, and if it persists look at replacing your old windshield wipers with a new pair.
You can also prevent buildup on both your windshield and wipers by cleaning them periodically.
The easiest way to do this is whenever you put more gas in your car just take the time to clean your windshield. Keep a spare rag in your trunk, and you can also wipe down the wiper blades, as well.
How to fix windshield wipers
Just like pinpointing the reason your windshield wipers are skipping, when it comes to fixing windshield wipers there’s not always a clear cut, one-size-fits-all solution.
The first step is to identify the problem. Once you’ve identified the problem, you typically have three options: clean the wiper blades, replace the rubber on the wiper, or replace the entire windshield wiper component.
We cover how to clean and replace your windshield wipers later on in the article, so let’s look at some of the common issues you may encounter and possible solutions.
- Film on the windshield – Your windshield wipers appear to be working. but there is almost a film or haze left across the windshield impeding your sight. This is probably less of a wiper issue and more of a maintenance issue. I suggest cleaning the windshield and applying a rain repellent like Rain X to fix the problem. Rain X is a glass treatment that repels water making it easier to see when driving as well as helping keep dirt and road grime from sticking to your glass.
Unfortunately Rain X doesn’t last very long so it’s not my first suggestion. Here are some better choices. Aquapel lasts 6-9 months and Gtechniq G1 last up to 2 years.
- Wipers don’t touch the glass – Have you ever noticed a spot on your windshield where the wiper appears to not make contact with the glass? You either have the incorrect style or size of wiper blades, or they have been damaged in some way. If it is the correct model, look for anywhere it could have been damaged and consider purchasing new wipers.
- Smearing – Smearing happens and is always so disappointing. You turn on your wipers expecting to have a clean window only to be left with a dirty windshield. There are a couple of possible issues. Your wipers could be really dirty, your wiper fluid could need replacing, or your wipers are just old. If you’ve cleaned and replaced the wiper fluid, it’s time for new blades!
As you can see, most of the time simply cleaning the wiper blades will eliminate the problem, but if it persists, you may want to look into replacing the old with the new. Keep reading, and you’ll learn exactly how to replace your wiper blades!
How to clean windshield wiper blades
It makes sense that windshield wipers would need to be cleaned since they are doing the cleaning for you. You have to empty your vacuum bag from time to time, so why wouldn’t you need to clean the wiper blades? Unfortunately, they can be easily overlooked.
Cleaning your windshield wiper blades is an easy, quick, and cost-effective way of extending their life. While your wiper blades should be replaced anywhere from six months to a year, I suggest cleaning them every couple of months or more.
- You will need warm soapy water, rags, and rubbing alcohol.
- Lift the wiper arm off the windshield. Then, using the warm soapy water to gently clean the blades. It’s important to be careful, so you don’t damage or the wiper arm or the rubber blade.
- Once you’ve finished wiping them clean, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on your rag to rid the wiper of any soap residue.
- Once you’ve completed these two steps, you’re done! Cleaning your windshield wipers is as easy as that. I would suggest cleaning the wiper arm and where the wiper blades rest on the windshield as well.
(You can purchase specific wiper cleaner, but soapy water will do the job most of the time.)
How to replace my windshield wipers
Your skipping windshield wipers (or other issues) could be caused by old wiper blades. If this is the problem, it is time to replace them with new ones.
Wipers also need to be replaced about every six months to a year, even though most people try to extend their wiper life too long. This is one of the easiest things you can do in your car at home. Please, don’t waste your money at a mechanic when you can do this job at home!
- Size and Length – Check your owner’s manual to determine the size and length of windshield wiper your vehicle requires. Some wiper blades have the option of only the rubber portion being replaced while others require the entire arm. If this is your first time, take your make, model, and year to an auto body shop, and they should be able to help you find the correct blades. Unless you have a very unique car, you’ll be able to find the appropriate wiper blades at Walmart as well. If you’re uncertain of which brand to choose, I typically choose a mid-range when it comes to price. I don’t purchase the most expensive nor the least. Another great resource is Autoguide.com. They’ve done the research for you and break down the pros and cons of the best ten wipers on the market.
- Locating the latch – The latch should be easy to find. It’s where the wiper attaches to the arm and is found near the middle of the actual wiper blade. The new wiper box will also have an illustration of what this latch looks like and directions for putting on your new blades.
- Remove the old – Now, that you’ve located the latch. Unlatch your old wipers, and pull the blade off. It’s always best to replace both wipers at the same time even if one has a little more life left than the other.
- In with the new – You’ve taken off the old wipers, so now it should be easy putting on the new. You’ll need to attach them and then make sure they are securely latched. Once they are attached, they should lay flat against the glass. If they don’t, you’ve probably installed them incorrectly. It’s ok to ask for help. If this is your first time, find a friend, parent, spouse, or even a neighbor. Chances are they will be able to assist you!
- Replacing only the rubber blade – If you’re feeling up to the challenge and the wiper arm seems to be in good condition, you can attempt to replace on the rubber blade of the wiper. You’ll need to purchase the correct size. Then, I suggest watching a YouTube video before attempting because it requires a bit more precision than a typical wiper blade replacement.
Replacing your wiper blades can feel intimidating at first, but once you do it one time you’ll find it is easy and so cost-effective. I promise you, you won’t look back. Whether it’s simple cleaning and maintenance or fully replacing the wiper, taking care of your own wipers is one of the easier car maintenance tasks you can perform.
When you’re diagnosing the wiper issue, remember to clean the glass, clean the wiper, and then check for any defects. Follow these three steps, and you’ll not only solve a multitude of issues but you’ll know when it’s time for some brand new wiper blades!