Understanding the lifespan of car parts: Have you checked your windscreen wipers lately?

<i>Image: iStock</i>
<i>Image: iStock</i>

Windscreen wipers are obviously an important safety feature of your car and will need replacing at some stage. Wipers  in fact one of the hardest working, yet least durable, parts of your car.

Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), an affiliate association of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), says weather conditions will obviously affect how long your windscreen wipers last, but generally manufacturers recommend changing them every six months to once a year.

No hard and fast rules

“Your own driving conditions might call for more frequent replacement. There's no hard-and-fast rule about when to change your wiper blades, but there are things to look out for in terms of the condition of your wipers.

READ: Car questions: How long does brake fluid last?

He says the first sign of a deterioration in your blades is when they leave patches or streaks on your windshield, stutter their way across the glass, or clean one side of the windshield but not the other.

READ: Make sure your car is travel ready this long weekend

Obviously by this stage your wipers are in very bad condition and it’s not ideal to let them get to this stage. A better option, he says, is to inspect them at specific times, such as the beginning of each season.

Consider setting a reminder for yourself to check them every couple of months. If you live in a harsh climate, you may need to check your blades more frequently," he says.

Wearing down over time

In hot and sunny climates, dry heat and ultraviolet radiation can break down the rubber blades, causing them to crack or warp. Extremely cold and icy weather, on the other hand, can also cause problems making blades brittle.

READ: Keeping it cool under the hood: Here's why coolant is so important in your car

Year-round dirt such as dust and grit, or tar and other sticky debris from road work can also shorten their lifespan. “If any of these conditions apply to you, check your blades monthly or even weekly."

                                                                       Image: iStock

Ranft says most workshops will fit your windscreen wipers free of charge if you buy the wipers from them. He explains that ordinary rubber wipers have the shortest lifespan, halogen-hardened rubber wipers last a bit longer, and silicone wipers have the longest lifetimes of all, perhaps exceeding a year even under intense use.

Use only genuine parts

“Of course, they also cost more than ordinary rubber wipers. In my workshop I use reputable brands of genuine automotive aftermarket replacement parts and would recommend them," he adds.

He also recommends using an additive in your wiper reservoir to make cleaning the windscreen easier.  

He suggests visiting a MIWA accredited aftermarket workshop if you are unsure about the state of your wipers. “They will be able to check the wipers and recommend whether they need replacing or not.

They can also advise you on what wipers would be best for you based on the climate and usage,” he concludes.

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