Good visibility is essential for safe driving – especially as approximately 20% of road accidents are caused by poor visibility. That’s why windscreen wipers, along with lights and interior ventilation, are vital for driving safety.
Wipers keep your windscreen free from rain, dust, pollen and other air-borne debris all year round. And when temperatures drop below zero, they work even harder as they also keep your windscreen free of snow and ice to give you the best possible visibility. But to do all this, they have have to be working correctly.
So, how can you keep your wipers working correctly? Simple: take a look at the preventative and maintenance tips below.
What to do when you park
Move your wiper blades off the windscreen
If you usually park outside and the weather forecast predicts snow or freezing rain, it’s a good idea to lift your wipers off your windscreen. This prevents your wipers blades from sticking to the glass when it freezes as this can damage the rubber blade when you move it. It also makes it easier to clear your windscreen before your next car journey.
Turn your wipers off
This might seem simple, but it’s a good habit for daily driving. Simply make sure your wipers are turned off when you park. Why? Well, your wipers could tear if they’ve frozen to the windscreen due to snow and ice and they automatically start up when you turn the engine on next.
Cover your wipers
Another protection method is to cover or wrap your wiper blades. This will reduce the effects of snow, ice and freezing rain.
What to do before you drive
Use an ice scraper
Cold weather can stiffen and damage your wiper blades, making them more brittle. Instead of potentially damaging your blades, it’s easier to use de-icer to melt the layer of snow and ice and an ice scraper to clear your windscreen.
Don’t forget to remove snow from the rest of your car
You might feel that it’s enough to just remove snow and ice from your windscreen, but it’s also a good idea to clear your roof and bonnet too. Any snow left on your car could be blown onto your windscreen or back window and restrict your visibility, which could be dangerous for you and other road users.
Keep nozzles clear
Your windscreen washer fluid nozzles are susceptible to the cold. Frozen nozzles will block them, so they won’t be able to deliver wiper fluid to clear your windscreen when you need it. If your nozzles are clogged, spray them with de-icer or use a pin to clear them. And while you’re there, clean your wiper blades too.
Never use boiling water
Never use boiling water to clear your windscreen and wipers. Depending on the ambient temperature, the water could freeze to your windscreen, causing more visibility problems as you drive.
Treat your wiper blades
If it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it. If your wiper blades haven’t been stuck to the windscreen by ice, there’s less likelihood they’ll be damaged by the cold. To prevent your wiper blades from freezing, simply wipe them with rubbing alcohol.
Check your wipers
Without physically checking your wipers, it’s difficult to know if they’re in a good or bad condition. Take a look and see: are there any gaps or worn bits along the blade? Or is there any rust or damage? For some problems you might notice there’s a problem by seeing streaking or smearing on your windscreen, but not all problems show up in this way. It’s easier – and safer – to regularly check your wiper blades than to have bad visibility during a snow storm due to a worn out wiper blade.
Clean your wipers and windscreen regularly
It’s useful to clean your wipers and windscreen regularly so you don’t find yourself smearing dirt and debris across your windscreen. Remember to use a lint-free cloth to clean the wipers and windscreen.
Remove salt, sand and other dirt
In the winter there’s more salt and sand on the road due to the snow and ice, which means there’s more salt and sand on your windscreen. While salt is good for your grip on the road, it’s not good on your windscreen where it can damage your wiper blades and scratch your windscreen. Use lukewarm water to wipe down your windscreen and wipers every week to remove most of the salt, sand and other dirt.
Even with the best of care, it’s still possible for your wipers to become ripped, torn or split. Visibility is essential to the safety of you, your passengers and other road users – don’t compromise your safety, ensure your windscreen wipers are always in good condition.
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