Checking windscreen wipers

Windscreen and wiper maintenance

Living in the UK means we get the odd bit of bad weather when we are driving. From torrential rain and spray to annoying drizzle and ice in the winter. Our windscreens and wipers see it all but what are the best ways to keep them clean and well-maintained?

How wiper blades work

Wiper blades work because there is a finely-tuned bit of rubber that scrapes across the windscreen. It must make contact with the screen fully to do its job properly and it needs to be clean. If you have lots of hard muck on your screen or the blade has a cut in it, you will soon notice areas where rainwater isn’t being cleared and visibility is affected. Blades with oil or grime on the contact area will also streak and can seriously affect what you can see while driving. 

Good windscreen wiper health

First of all, keep your washer fluid topped up and keep it topped up with proper fluid. In a situation where they run empty, plain water is fine for a while but washer fluid has handy detergents in it to keep the grease and muck off the screen and blades. Every few months, it is worth lifting up the wipers and running a clean damp cloth along the rubber blade. This will help remove any build-up that could damage them. It is also worth taking a moment to regularly check for any nicks or cuts in the rubber—if you find any then its time to get the blade changed.

Frozen windscreens

It is really important not to use your wipers when the windscreen is frozen. Firstly, they might not move because they are frozen to the screen and the motor can burn out if you keep trying. Secondly, being dragged across an icy screen is not good for the blade and can seriously reduce its lifespan.

If you have a frozen windscreen, do not be tempted to pour boiling water on it. This can make small cracks or chips on the screen, even tiny ones you cannot see, open up and become much bigger cracks. A frozen windscreen should be treated by using a scraper carefully, a de-icer or warm air from the inside…or all three.

Cracked windscreens

Any cracks and chips should be looked at immediately. Windscreen glass will not shatter, so a crack does not mean you need to stop suddenly. But it is something you should get checked as chips can turn into cracks and they tend to get bigger over time. 

Dealing with cracked windscreens on your Motability Scheme car

Motability Scheme customers have windscreen repair and replacement included as part of the worry-free lease. You should act quickly if you notice a chip as windscreen repairs won’t affect claims with RSAM, windscreen replacements however do come with an excess charge.

Find out more about windscreens and windows on the Scheme

Ask an expert 

Gareth Dakin-Brown, RSAM

Q: How common are chipped or cracked screens and what happens if people ignore it?

A: We replace about 1500 windscreens a month for Motability Scheme customers and repair about 300 chips. If a chip is left too long it will eventually crack which means the customer then needs to have the screen replaced because a crack will not repair. 

Q: Have you ever seen a crack being left and finally causing the screen to break?

A: Screens don’t generally break due to the composite design of the glass but, if the crack grows into the driver’s sightline, it becomes unsafe to drive.

Q: What are the main causes or cracks and chips in the UK?

A: Common causes of chips are stones thrown up from other vehicles and debris from potholes. Chips turning to cracks tend to happen by going over bumps or extreme temperatures. For example, when water from a kettle is poured on the screen in winter and when there is air conditioning on a hot screen in summer.

How the Motability Scheme can help

The Motability Scheme enables you to exchange all or part of your mobility allowance to lease a car, mobility scooter or powered wheelchair. Being a customer also means you benefit from all aspects of the lease, including servicing and repairs, car insurance, road tax, breakdown assistance and more. Find out more about the benefits of joining the Scheme.


Related articles 

What should you do if you get a puncture while driving?

How to check a car’s engine oil

How to drive safely in frosty conditions

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