Windshield wipers up or down…the debate continues
Over the course of our driving history, there have been many debates. Winter tires versus all-season tires, gasoline versus diesel, all-wheel drive versus front wheel drive and so on. Over the past few years another debate has reared its ugly head – windshield wipers up versus windshield wipers down before the snow/ice storm hits.
When this first came onto scene I was thinking perhaps leaving the wipers up, especially during freezing rain. It would seem that scraping off the windshield would become easier if I didn’t have to scrape around the wipers. This would also lessen any possible wiper rubber damage from my ice scraper gouging it. Sounds good, right? Then I gave it some more thought.
After a fresh fallen layer of snow or freezing rain has fallen, we all need to clear our vehicle from this wintery residue. Since it’s best to start from the roof and work your way down the vehicle, you could start the engine of your vehicle and place the ventilation controls to defrost. By the time you get to the windshield, provided you leave the windshield last to be scraped, the ice around the wiper blade would lessen, which would allow you to safely lift them from the glass before beginning to scrape the windshield. Remember to clear away any snow and ice from the base of the wiper arm. That will allow the wiper to move freely.
Although the engine is nowhere near the proper operating temperature to blow hot air through the air vents by the time you get to scrape the windshield, it often has softened the snow or ice near the wiper blade enough to safely lift the blade off the glass. It would also make it a little easier to clean the remaining wiper blade with your hand. You won’t have to worry about damaging the wiper blade as it rests on the windshield this time and can scrape to your heart’s desire.
Leaving the wipers up, especially if there’s freezing rain or ice involved, they would be completely coated in ice, including the wiper blade itself. How useful would your wipers be at this time? Would a wiper completely covered in ice be more difficult to clean compared to a wiper contacting the windshield? A few things to also consider.
However, if you decide to leave your wipers up away from the glass, here’s what you should know. Yes, it does make cleaning ice and snow from your windshield so much easier, but can it cause damage to the wiper arm? It generally won’t cause damage to the wiper arm’s springs, but if the weather is providing strong winds, the wiper blade can slam down hard enough on the windshield to crack it. This is especially true if the blade can swing on the end of the wiper arm. Let’s address windshield wiper maintenance.
Get into the habit of turning off your wipers before you turn the engine off after you park. Not only will this provide more battery power to start your vehicle (the same battery uses your fan, stereo, wipers, etc.), but leaving the wipers turned on and lifted away from the glass may cause damage to the wiper arm once you start your vehicle if you’ve forgotten to turn them off ahead of time. Leaving your wipers turned on and having the wipers against a frozen windshield can also damage the wiper linkage or motor as the wiper motor attempts to move the frozen windshield wipers. So again, turn off all electrical accessories before turning off your vehicle.
Those are the facts. There are pros and cons to leaving your wipers down or lifting them up away from the glass. As many have guessed, I’m leaning toward leaving my wipers down. I’ve made my decision. Now you have to make yours.