Worn Wiper Blades: An Underappreciated Cause of Windshield Damage

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers get a lot of use during the rainy season, and with that comes a fair amount of wear. Not just wear on your wiper blades, either! Worn out wiper blades can cause some serious damage to your windshield over time. Here’s a look at how this happens and what you can do to prevent it.

How Does the Damage Occur?

Windshield wiper blades have long, thin rubber arms that cover a thin metal blade. Every time the blade arms move back and forth across your windshield, the rubber slowly deteriorates, which can cause it to eventually wear away entirely. Once this happens, there’s nothing to protect the glass from the metal scraping across it and scratches are very likely to occur. It’s important to replace your wiper blades as soon as they show signs of wear to prevent your windshield from becoming damaged.

Wiper blades typically last about 6-12 months, but this can vary based on factors like the weather and the conditions you typically drive in. Rainier years will put more wear and tear on your wiper blades, making it necessary to replace them more frequently. For this reason, it’s a good idea to inspect your wiper blades on a regular basis. One easy way to remember is to take a look at them (or ask your mechanic) every time you have your oil changed. Even if your wiper blades are working well, they should be replaced as soon as you notice any streaking or visible metal.

Other Considerations

Windshield wipers may seem like a minor fixture in the grand scheme of your car, but worn blades can significantly affect your safety, as the damage they cause can severely limit your visibility. Even small scratches can obstruct your view and make it more difficult to see potential hazards.

Small imperfections (including cracks and pits) in glass can also lower the integrity of a windshield. This means if you get into an accident the force of the collision is more likely to cause the windshield to shatter, which could result in serious injuries.

Beyond safety issues, there are also legality issues to consider. Washington doesn’t have specific laws regarding damage to windshields, but there are regulations that cover windshield obstruction as well as the condition of windshield wipers. According to WAC 204-10-024, drivers “must have no obstruction forward of the windshield that extends more than two inches upward into the horizontally forward projected vision area of the windshield.” The projected vision area covers the area from the top of the steering wheel to the top of the front of the fenders or hood. If you have multiple cracks in the windshield or one within the vision area, you could be at risk of receiving a citation.

Restoring the Glass

If your wiper blades have damaged your windshield, you’ll generally have one option: replace the windshield.

If you wait to replace the blades, there could be considerable damage, like multiple scratches across the windshield or deep scratches. Unfortunately, once the damage in the glass reaches a certain depth, it’s not repairable. Your only option is to replace the windshield. If the damage is extensive on the driver’s side, even if it’s not very deep, it could still require replacement.

There are DIY repair kits available, however, it’s important to understand that nothing can replace the expert eye of auto glass professionals. Windshield repairs and recommendations are always best left to glass specialists, as there can be damage that’s not visible or other considerations. If you’ve noticed your blades have started to scratch your windshield, the best first step to take is to replace the blades. Then, give Lucky Dog Auto Glass a call! We’re happy to evaluate the damage and let you know whether it’s a candidate for repair or if a replacement would be the safer option. Contact us today at 253-569-9403 for a free estimate!

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