Everything You Need to Know about Windshield Wipers in the Winter

Winter in Albuquerque can bring anything from cold rain to stinging sleet to snow-globe-like blizzard conditions. You just never know. But you need to be ready for any type of winter precipitation. That means you need the right wiper blades to keep your windshield clear of actual precipitation as well as the road-grime-slush ick that gets kicked up by other vehicles’ tires.

Before you head to your nearest auto parts store to get new blades, know your options and which ones are more likely to meet your needs.

What You Want in Wiper Blades for Winter

When you shop for windshield wiper blades, you’ll first notice two main types:

  • All-weather
  • Winter

Which type you need depends on a couple of factors:

  • Average daily temperatures
  • Average expected precipitation

Albuquerque has had a number of mild winters, and all-weather wiper blades would be fine for those conditions. But like we said, you never know, so winter wiper blade may be your best choice.

Compared to all-weather blades, winter wiper blades typically offer:

  • Fully enclosed frame
    If you look at the frame of an all-weather wiper, you’ll see a lot of holes. Those are perfect places for ice and frost to build up. And if it does, your wiper gets heavy…sometimes too heavy for the motor to push it across your windshield. So in the cold of night (because you know that’s when it’s going to happen), you have to get out of your warm car and de-ice your windshield wipers. Unless, of course, you have winter wiper blades with a fully enclosed frame that has no holes.
  • Rubber compound that better withstands cold
    All-weather wipers typically have an all-natural rubber blade. All-natural rubber can get brittle in cold temperatures. Hardening makes blades more likely to skip across your windshield, so it isn’t as effective at removing rain, snow and ice. It also makes blades more likely to tear, rendering them useless when you need them most. Winter blades, on the other hand, use a rubber compound that maintains flexibility and grip on the glass.

Winter wiper blades are also more likely to feature easy attachments. If that’s the difference in price point, definitely opt for the quick-install variety as nothing makes windshield wiper blade installation harder than clumsy, frozen fingers.

Wiper Blade Maintenance

No matter what type of wiper blade you choose, your blades will only perform well if they are intact and clean. To keep them that way:

  • Routinely clean your windshield so that the wiper blades do not collect debris that is then scraped across your glass
  • Routinely wipe off blades with a cloth or paper towel
  • Scrape your frozen windshield to de-ice it rather than running your wipers to clear away frost and ice
  • Prevent your wipers from freezing to your windshield (pulling wipers away from the glass and then setting them back down before you leave your car parked for the night may be enough)

Oh, and never run your windshield wipers across a dry windshield. So, when you’re buying blades, remember the wiper fluid.