Should You Put Your Windshield Wipers Up When It Snows?




Windshield Wipers UP

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Arguments for lifting your windshield wipers:

  • Makes the windshield easier to clean
  • Wipers don’t freeze to the windshield
  • Prevents damage to the wiper

Arguments against lifting your windshield wipers

  • Could damage springs
  • Potential of damaging the windshield

A great driver debate rages on; should I lift up my windshield wipers before a winter storm? 

For those of you who live in the South, you will have no idea what I am talking about.

It’s Up To You!

But for those of us who are from the North, this could be a part of your daily winter routine. Let’s see what the fuss is all about.

Before we get into a long conversation about this; the quick and easy answer is; it is completely up to you. 

If you want to put your windshield wipers up before a storm, that is your prerogative. 

I used to do this all the time, to me, it made it easier to clean the windshield. However, there are some detractors to this theory.  So let us get into the nitty-gritty.

First, let’s set the scene.  You hear a weather forecast calling for a winter storm in your area that will drop either a ton of snow or worse bring freezing rain. 

You may be new to the area or visiting from out of town and you see all of these cars with their windshield wipers pulled up.

You have never seen such a parade of windshield wipers standing erect before. What are these people thinking? 

You may ask yourself, ‘Self, why are all of these windshield wipers pulled up?’

Why pull up your windshield wipers?

Here is the long explanation and what I found to be true.  If you get six or more inches of snow, pulling up your windshield wipers makes it easier to clean off your windshield. 

I can take an ice scraper and run it along the window without fear of damaging my wiper blade. With my snow scraper and brush, I could clear my whole windshield and be able to drive safely.

Secondly, if the dreaded freezing rain is forecasted; pulling your windshield wipers up prevents them from freezing to the windshield. 

Yes, this does happen. Again, this gives you a clean area to work with when scraping the ice from your windshield. The rubber blades freezing to the glass will cause more damage than leaving the wipers down.

Third, and perhaps most important, it could prevent damage to your wiper arm and/ or wiper motor. 

If you happen to leave your wipers on when you exit your car they will start up immediately when you turn the car on. 

A significant amount of snow or ice build-up on your windshield will prevent your wipers from moving.

If your wipers can’t move when they are running, there is the possibility of burning out your wiper motor or bending your wiper arm.

Ultimately, it doesn’t take a lot of time to pull your wipers up.  And it could end up saving you time in the long run. I am a proud proponent of this practice. 

I have no need for it now that I live in Florida, but should I move North again, you would see my windshield wipers up.

Why are people against pulling up their windshield wipers?

Well, frankly, I don’t quite understand people that don’t feel the need to put their windshield wipers up.  I mean, why not? Because it looks a little silly?

Maybe, but most other people are doing it too. If anything, you will look silly for NOT putting your windshield wipers up because everyone else is doing it. 

This is said tongue in cheek of course, but the idea that having your wipers up looks silly should not be a valid reason not to lift your windshield wipers.

Okay, so what about a mechanically sound reason for not lifting your windshield wipers? 

Some argue that by raising your windshield wipers you can damage the springs that make your windshield wipers go. 

My argument to this is that if they were not designed to be lifted up, the car engineers would not have designed them to do so, right? 

Also, studies show that this is not the case, as seen in this article by the American Automobile Association (AAA).  Your springs will be fine if you leave your wipers lifted up.

Another argument that people make is that leaving the wipers up puts undue wear and tear on the rubber blade. 

Well, if you are slamming the windshield wiper arm back into the windshield after you are done cleaning off the windshield; I suppose this could be undue stress on the rubber. 

But in actuality the friction from running your wipers in much harder on the rubber blade, then lifting the blade up. So if this is a concern you have; after you have finished cleaning your windshield, gently lower your wiper arm back down.

A legitimate concern that people have is if the wiper will snap back down in high winds.  This could have a two-fold bad result.

First, it could actually bend your wiper arm and permanently damage your windshield wiper. 

Second, the force from a windshield wiper crashing down could crack an already cold and brittle windshield.  

This is a real possibility and I was thinking back to when I lived up North.  If I knew that a storm like this was moving in.

A blizzard or a storm with high winds, I would opt to leave my wipers down.  You have to use a measure of common sense. If the forecast calls for high winds, then maybe a measure of prudence needs to be exercised and you should leave the wipers down.

Alright, so after considering reasons for and against putting your wipers up you have opted not to put your windshield wipers up.  But you don’t want to be caught completely unprepared, so what can you do?

Alternatives to lifting your wipers up?

Don’t fret, there are options for you if it seems unnatural to leave your windshield wipers up during a snow storm.  Let’s take a look at a few preparatory measures you can take to make cleaning off your car easier in the morning.

Simply start the car about twenty to twenty-five minutes before you are ready to leave.  This is what we call “warming up the car”, and up North, it is usually necessary. But what you want to do is start your car and crank your heat and defrosters all the way to maximum.  That’s it.

While your car is doing the work of melting the ice and snow near your windshield you can be doing other things; like digging your car out of the driveway.   Truth be told; I did this in conjunction with putting my wipers up. By the time I got to clean my windshield off, the snow and ice were mostly melted and it was just a matter of pushing it off the windshield.  

Another method, that employed once or twice was putting an actual cover or sock over my wiper blades. 

This is actually very effective, it protects the blade and it keeps snow and ice from freezing it to your windshield. 

You can use an old sock to cover it up, but an insulated sleeve would be more effective.  Why? 

Well, what happened to me was, I started my car to warm it up and the defroster melted some of the snow; which was absorbed by the sock.

This, in turn, made it difficult to remove from the blade.  For me, it was more trouble than it was worth.  

A third option is covering your whole windshield with cardboard, a large towel, or again an insulated magnetic windshield cover. 

This is nice if you are getting ice because it will prevent a build-up of ice on your windshield.  The only problem is you will probably end up chipping the ice from off the cover before you can remove it.

There are more!  One method that I never tried but I have read about is applying PAM, the cooking spray, to your rubber wiper blades. 

According to what I have read, this will prevent them from freezing to your windshield. It doesn’t fix anything about a massive snow build-up, you will still need to clean around your wipers, but it is another option.

Finally, you could use a deicer to melt snow and ice away from your wipers.  Again, if there are snow accumulations of your windshield you will need to remove these first, but if you don’t want to put your wipers up. It’s an option.

Final Thoughts…

Well, there you have it, the arguments for and against lifting up your windshield wipers.  As I said, in the twelve winters I spent in Maine I never had a problem employing this method. 

When I was rushing off to work, it made car cleanup that much easier in the morning. But for the more skittish among us, there are a number of other options that are available to you. 

Whatever you choose, be sure to clean off your entire windshield, and take a few extra minutes to clean all your windows. Safe travels…

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