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Choosing Wiper BladesNotes From The Road

Choosing Wiper Blades
By Mike Bumbeck/

Clarifying the Choices for a Clearer View -

Replacing windshield wiper blades is a low priority task for the most of us. One only and suddenly remembers that the wiper blades are worn out when it rains or snows. This thought is usually and quickly forgotten when the skies clear up. This on and off act of procrastination continues, often until the wiper blades are worn well beyond usefulness. The fact is that worn and poorly operating windshield wiper blades can be dangerous. A split second of impaired vision holds potential for an accident.

Replacing and even upgrading wiper blades takes minutes and can provide improved visibility even in the worst of weather conditions. This is a task best performed on a balmy day with a cold drink in wait, instead of during a freezing rainstorm at the superhypermart parking lot.

Bewildering Assortment
Making the plunge into the store to purchase new wiper blades is the first step. The second is being presented with a bewildering array of choices. At its most basic, the windshield wiper is a thin strip of rubbery material attached to an assembly that holds the strip against the windshield. The windshield wiper squeegees water, snow, dirt, bugs, and the like off the windshield to clear up the forward line of vision. If most of your driving is done in a temperate climate then the simplest of wiper refills or wiper blades may be the answer to your windshield wiper needs. If harsh weather or swarms of insects are more the norm, then upgrading to heavy-duty or higher performance wiper blades may be a better solution to seeing clearly.

Sun Baked
While a rainstorm or snow squall may serve as a reminder to replace the windshield wiper blades, extremes in heavy weather are not the main factors in wiper blade decay. Wiper blades receive their greatest abuse while sitting idle baking in the hot sun. The same UV rays that make the days of summer long and lazy can cook the flexibility and usefulness out of the material the wiper blades are made of. The wiper blade needs to be soft to conform to the shape of the windshield. The irony is that the end of summer often brings with it some of the worst in weather. Worn blades that worked fine during the occasional summer squall or shower will usually display their uselessness when the first winter storm hits.

Wiper Refills
The first and often least expensive option in upgrading the windshield wipers is a fresh set of wiper refills. The wiper refill is simply a replacement for the strip of rubber that meets the windshield. Wiper refills are a good option if the wiper blade assemblies are still in decent shape. These refills come in a variety of lengths and widths. Swapping in the new for the old can restore clear vision in seconds. Measure both or all wiper blade lengths and note the width before purchasing wiper blade refills. Even though it may not look it, wiper blades are often different lengths. Check width requirements as well. A pair of pliers and a bit of patience is all that's required for wiper refill replacement.

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