Whilst it’s currently not the rainy season in Johannesburg, it certainly is getting colder and frostier every morning. This means that most mornings I need to make use of my wipers to clear the windscreen so that I can see; as I was doing that this week, I noticed that the wiper blades were hanging off the bracket.

Visibility is essential to driver safety, be it in rain or ice or mist, and as such, knowing about wipers is imperative. There are a few signs to watch out for that will tip you off when new wipers are due. The first of which relates to the composition of the wipers themselves: looking closely at the blades, do you see any cracks, splits or broken off pieces? Are the blades hanging off the bracket on one side? The rubber should be smooth and still slightly flexible, not hard and brittle, with a tapered edge that acts as a squeegee to move the water off the windscreen. If you notice any of the above signs, it’s a clear indication that you will need to replace the blades.

A second sign of perishing blades is when your wiper leaves streaks on the windscreen: wet patches or “missed spots” are a clear indication that the blade is no longer able to do its job. Similarly, if there is a constant layer of grime on the windshield – even after spraying and wiping with the blades – your blades are either dirty, or old. Remember to always wash and wipe the blades when cleaning your car, and doing a test run with the blades thereafter will usually show very clearly whether the wipers are still good to go.

Like dragging your fingernails across a chalkboard, the scratching, scraping sound your wipers make across the glass will also be a good indicator of wipers that need replacing. It simply means that the blades are not cleaning the windscreen properly and have either already perished through and come off the bracket (in which case the bracket itself may be scratching and permanently damaging the glass) or are warping and not making sufficient contact with the surface of the glass.

Bad windshield contact can be as a result of numerous things – bent brackets are often caused by automatic/mechanical car-washes or mishandling when cleaning the window. This leads to the wiper blades not reaching all the needed parts of the windscreen and only cleaning in some areas. Similarly, using certain chemicals in your washer fluid can cause the rubber of the blades to perish, so be careful what you add. Seasonal changes can also lead to deterioration – the baking of hot sun onto the rubber will lead to damage over time, and the change between the icy night-time temperatures and baking sun during winter will do the same. Always try to park under cover of some sort, as this is generally just better for your vehicle.


By Desh Bechan