Windshield wipers: up or down before a winter storm?

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF/KODE) — The night before snow or ice is expected to roll in, you may see a line of cars parked outside with all their windshield wipers standing at attention.

Many people choose to raise wipers up from the windshield, leaving them vertical in the event of snowfall or ice accumulation while the vehicle is parked. This way, they won’t freeze to the windshield and it will be easier to clear the snow or ice that accumulates.

You might be doing it to avoid damage – since prying a frozen wiper blade from a windshield could damage the rubber – but you actually might be doing more harm than good.

The Drive reports that wipers aren’t built to stand up. Strong winds, like during a snowstorm, could whip the windshield arms around in a way they weren’t built to withstand. Wiper blade gearing is “often made of shockingly brittle plastic,” the Drive writes.

(Photo courtesy: iStock/Getty Images)

An article posted on The Weather Network agrees that leaving windshield wipers up could wear down the springs. However, lifting them could reduce some of the wear on the rubber, so it’s not clear which strategy increases their longevity more.

Most will find the answer simply comes down to convenience and preference. One expert, Harold Singh, a quality control manager at Erie Insurance, said leaving them up is probably the better of the two strategies.

“There are risks either way,” he said in a post for Erie Insurance. “But the risk is higher that you’ll tear the rubber trying to free a frozen wiper blade. So leaving them up is probably your best bet, if you can do it.”

There are other strategies you can take, too. Instead of lifting your wipers, you could cover the windshield with a blanket, protecting the whole thing from snow and ice. Another idea is to wrap towels around your windshield wipers. And, if time is on your side, just be patient and let your car’s defroster do what it’s designed for.

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