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Do you lift up your windshield wipers before a big storm?


By Jeremy Elliott
Writer, Beat the Traffic
Friday, March 14, 2014, 12:28 PM

Windshield wipers seem like a rather boring subject, one of those items on your car that you take for granted. Until they stop working that is.

In the last few years you may have noticed a trend in some parking lots of flipped up wiper arms when freezing weather is expected.

The basic premise is that by lifting your wiper blades, you are preventing them from freezing to the windshield.

Something so simple seems to cause a great deal of debate, discussion and even outright dismissal.

Here are the arguments:

For - Lifting the wiper blades makes it easier to scrape your windshield when you get out to your car. It also reduces wear and tear on the rubber wiper blades because they are not freezing to the glass and being scraped off by your scraper.

Against - Lifting them does not reduce the wear and tear significantly. Leaving the wiper arms in the lifted position fatigues the wiper arm springs. And it looks silly.

Delving deeper into the facts does not uncover a clear answer either.

1) Fatigue - Leaving your wipers up does not fatigue the springs. They are springs and the metallurgy is designed to handle this stress. The lifted wiper arm is not exceeding the yield strength or dynamic range of the spring.
2) Reduced wear – While lifting your wipers prior to freezing may reduce some wear on the rubber, the vast majority of wear happens while actually using the wipers, so longevity may not increase or decrease.
3) Convenience – Depending on the amount of snow / ice buildup, having the wipers already up may make it easier to clear your windshield.

Given the facts, it really does come down to convenience and preference – if you find that lifting them up before it gets icy works for you, feel free to keep doing it. If you don’t think it makes any difference, or you are concerned that it looks foolish, then you don’t need to.

Interesting to note is that several wiper manufacturers, including some of the high end brands like Rain-x recommend lifting the wiper blades prior to icy conditions.

An additional bit of advice regarding increasing wiper longevity - keep your windshield clean. Dragging your wipers across a windshield covered in abrasive dirt and grime can ruin them much faster than ice and snow. If you find that your wipers are smearing or not wiping properly, you can often sharpen the rubber edge rather than buying a set of new expensive wiper refills. Keep in mind that sharpening will only work with wiper blades that are not torn or excessively worn.

Now get those wipers going and start singing Jimmy Cliff.


BEAT THE TRAFFIC: How will your commute be affected? Rely on Beat the Traffic for real-time traffic updates that matter to you. Visit www.beatthetraffic.com and download the app on iTunes or Google Play and get there sooner!


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