Accidents, repairs, and damages from use over time are unpredictable when it comes to your vehicle and in most cases aren’t related to the owners abuse. However, almost all of windshield wiper system failures are avoidable. Not surprisingly these failures and breaks usually occur in the winter due to some avoidable actions.
Almost all wiper systems have some type of fail-safe. Certain vehicles (newer ones) will use a relay to shut the power off to the motor if it can’t complete a wiper blade cycle sweep due to frozen blades. Other vehicles use a wiper arm mounted to the linkage with a nut that will loosen off under the same conditions (letting the linkage move without the arm). Even with all these features, auto shops are busy every winter with repairs to damaged wiper blades. Depending on the issue at hand, it can cost hundreds of dollars to replace wiper motors and linkage assemblies, and it’s very easy and free to avoid.
The simple yet often forgotten act of making sure that your wipers are turned off when you park your vehicle will help tremendously. Sounds to easy, right? But this is the number one cause of wiper system failures. So get in the habit of turning them off before you turn your engine off.
Another practice that many people think is helpful can actually end up breaking your windshield wipers is leaving the wiper blades raised off the windshield to prevent them from freezing to the glass. In windy conditions, a wiper arm can snap down hard enough on the windshield to crack it, especially if the wiper blade can swing on the end of the arm exposing the metal hook to the glass.
Last but not least, letting snow and ice pile up at the bottom of the windshield where the hood meets the glass is another bad habit. In some conditions this can prevent the wipers from completing a full cycle and will damage the linkages. Think of the force you are putting on the linkages, its only a matter of time before something gives.
In summary, when you are clearing the windshield before heading out in your vehicle, use your brush and chip away all ice on your windshield, including at the bottom of the wiper. Furthermore, try and remember to turn your wipers off when getting out of the car for long periods and try to refrain from leaving the wipers up. It may take you an extra minute of scraping the windshield but you’ll be doing your wipers a favour.