A squeaking wiper blade is a quick way to drive you crazy. You can’t just stop using your wipers since they’re giving you better visibility on the road. The only solution is to figure out why your blades are squeaking and to stop them. In this guide, I’ll help you do just that.
Start by cleaning your wiper blades and windshield then checking your wiper fluid levels. Make sure you never turn on your wipers unless you spray it with wiper fluid first, or it’s raining hard enough to make your windshield wet. You’ll also need to replace your old wiper blades and make sure none of the wiper fluid components have failed.
I’ll cover why a wiper blade might be squeaking, talk about some specific examples, then show you different ways to stop your wiper blades from squeaking.
What the Wiper Blades Do
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but your windshield wipers are really important. They are the only mechanism that can clean your windshield as you’re driving along.
Without the wipers, you’d need to pull over, get out of your car, and use a towel to clean your windshield.
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The blades are long pieces of plastic and metal with rubber inserts that rub against your glass windshield. They can be used on their own to clear rain from your windshield or used with wiper fluid to get rid of light dust, bird droppings, or bug splats
In simple terms, wipers will help you see the road in front of you when there are different obstructions on your windshield.
Why Wiper Blade Might Squeak
When you hear a squeak anywhere in your car, you’re hearing the result of mechanical rubbing. You typically don’t hear squeaking in a car because the whole vehicle is designed to minimize rubbing. After all, friction is a quick way to destroy your car.
This might lead to some confusion, though. Aren’t windshield wipers always rubbing against the glass of your windshield? Yes, but the blade is designed to do so without any extra friction. That’s why your wipers have a special strip of rubber that does all the work, an added layer of moisture and lubrication, and a perfectly designed path for your wiper arms to move.
When you couple these ideas together, you shouldn’t hear any squeaking. It also hints at three areas that could be causing the squeak:
- The rubber of your wipers
- A lack of lubrication between the glass and rubber
- An incorrect path for your wiper arms.
In the next section, I’ll talk about some specific reasons why your wipers are squeaking. All of them can be lumped into one or two of the three categories I just mentioned.
I also want to mention that a squeaky wiper isn’t the end of the world. There are only a few culprits of the squeak that you want to immediately address. I’m not suggesting that you put this off, but you don’t need to panic or expect a huge bill for this issue (thankfully).
13 Ways to Stop Your Wiper Blades from Squeaking
Without further ado, here are some ways to stop your wiper blades from squeaking. I roughly listed them from most common to least common issues, so try to work your way down the list sequentially.
1. Clean the Blades
The squeaks might be a result of dirt rubbing against your windshield. Luckily, this is a really easy problem to fix.
Lift your wipers from the glass and clean them. You don’t need anything special to clean them, just some soapy water and a towel to wipe your wiper blades.
Before wiping them down, take a closer look at the rubber and see if it’s damaged. If they’re damaged, forget about cleaning them for now.
2. Never Use Wipers on a Dry Windshield
If you didn’t know, you should never use wipers on a dry windshield. If it’s not raining hard enough or there’s no wiper fluid on your glass, don’t use your wipers.
If you do, you’ll hear a squeak. Of course, this is the smallest problem to worry about. Since the windshield isn’t lubricated, the rubber can do lasting damage to your windshield.
In extreme cases, the windshield will get worn down and will need to be fully replaced. It can also make preexisting cracks deeper and longer if you use wipers on a dry windshield.
3. Clean Your Windshield
Just like dirty blades, a dirty windshield can be causing this squeak. In my experience, this was the more common of the two.
To clean your windshield, you have some options. You can use a traditional method and use soapy water and a microfiber towel to do the cleaning.
Another way to clean the glass is with Windex, a glass cleaner. Be very careful not to get this chemical on your car’s paint because it can melt the topcoat and lead to massive damage to your car.
On glass surfaces, however, Windex is perfectly safe and works really well. Clean your windshield just like you would clean a window in your house. Spray the Windex and use little circles to get rid of all the dust and dirt.
You can use Windex on the inside and outside of your car. If you have a problem with streaks on your windows or it’s tough to see when it’s sunny, this should help a lot. With a clean windshield, all of these issues will disappear.
4. Check Your Fluid Levels
If you notice squeaking when you are using wiper fluid to clean off debris from your windshield, you might not have enough liquid.
Even if it’s spraying, it could be a lessened spray due to low levels of wiper fluid.
Checking your fluid levels is easy. Pop your hood and take a look in the back left or right corner. You’ll see a large plastic reservoir that holds your wipers. A lot of the caps have a little diagram of your wiper with a spraying liquid.
This reservoir will also have a line that tells you how much liquid you should have. If you see a line with no funky-colored liquid near it, then you need to top off your wiper fluid.
After refilling the reservoir, close your hood and get back into your car. Depress the button or lever that triggers the wiper fluid for a few seconds and make sure the hose is filled with this fresh fluid.
5. Replace Old or Worn Blades
First, I should mention that windshield wipers have a shelf life. They can only work for so long before they need to be replaced.
It’s mostly due to the rubber. As time goes on, the rubber wears down, cracks, and eventually fails. At this point, you’ll need to replace them.
One symptom of old blades is that they’ll create a squeak as they’re used. In addition, they could lead to streaking across your wipers.
You can buy new blades online or from your local auto shop. Replacing them takes a minute or two and requires no tools, so I’d suggest doing the project on your own (instead of taking it to a mechanic).
6. Stop Using the Wrong Products
There are a number of products on the market that help keep the rain off your windshield. Although the product might work really well, it could also cause a squeak on your windshield.
A common example of this is Rain-X’s line of “rain guard” protection. The idea is that you apply this product to your windshield and water droplets will roll off your windshield. How is this possible? Through the use of lubricants and polymers that change the surface tension of your windshield.
A side-effect of these products being on your windshield is that your wipers aren’t designed to slide over lubricants and polymers, they’re designed to make contact with the windshield glass directly. With the added layer of chemicals, the wipers will squeak.
The squeak isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Aside from being annoying, it’s not causing any extra damage to your windshield or blades.
Still, if you want the noise to go away, you’ll need to remove these products from your windshield.
A good way to remove Rain-X from your windshield is with a spray bottle that has equal parts of white vinegar and warm water. Spray it on the windshield then wipe it away with a microfiber towel. Finish the job up with a dry towel to ensure nothing is left on your windshield.
7. Check for Frozen Fluid Nozzles
You might think that the fluid nozzles are spraying wiper fluid on your windshield, but they might not be. This is a common issue when it gets really cold and your car is parked outside overnight.
Take a look at the top of your hood near your windshield. You should see two little black plastic pieces with holes that face your windshield. This is where the wiper fluid comes from.
Do a close inspection to see if there’s any frost or signs of freezing. If there is, then follow my guide for safely thawing these nozzles.
8. Adjust the Rubber Blades
With certain types of wipers, the rubber is supposed to sit in a little channel on the blade. On other wipers, there’s a slot in the metal that houses the rubber of the blade.
In either case, you need to make sure the rubber is properly seated. If not, the rubber can move against the plastic or metal housing and wiggle its way across your windshield. The result? A squeak every time you turn on your wiper blades.
9. Apply Rubbing Alcohol on Hard Blades
Windshield wiper blades are supposed to be soft and squishy to the touch. If you feel your blades and they feel hard, then you can use a simple household item to soften them up: rubbing alcohol.
The rubbing alcohol doesn’t damage the rubber. Instead, it softens it up and makes the blade looser.
If you don’t have any rubbing alcohol, you can also use an eyeglass wipe or a wet wipe. After applying the rubbing alcohol, use a try paper towel to get rid of the leftover alcohol. It will dry pretty quickly, but it’s better to ensure all the excess is gone before putting your wipers back down.
10. Twist the Wiper Arms
I’ve found that on older cars, sometimes the windshield wiper arms actually get twisted around. It can be a slight deflection, but it’ll be enough to knock the wipers off of their correct path.
In this case, it could have nothing to do with the rubber’s contact with the windshield. There could be friction within the arm and its housing, causing the squeaking sound.
Since a twisted arm will also change the path of the rubber over the windshield, the sound could still be coming from the rubber.
A quick way to test this is to have a buddy run your car’s wipers with fluid while you stand in front of the car, listening. Without getting splashed by fluid or hit by the wipers, see if you can pinpoint the sound.
11. Tighten the Fasteners
At the base of the wiper arms and sometimes the center of the wiper blade housing, there will be fasteners. These secure the assembly and ensure nothing rubs against each other.
Since you’re hearing a squeak, that could be a sign that these fasteners are loose. After finding the fastener, it’s a matter of finding the right tool to tighten it.
The tool you need will vary based on your car and windshield wiper type. You probably need:
- An Allen key if there’s a hexagonal opening on the fastener
- A screwdriver for slotted or X-shaped slots on the fastener
- A socket set if the fastener has a hexagonal outside
12. Swap Out Your Old or Rusty Arm Assembly
Another place for some friction is the arm assembly of your wipers. I mentioned earlier that you might have twisted arms on your vehicle, but there could also be rust or mechanical issues going on.
This is a more common issue for older cars. If rust is hidden in the wiper arms, then there will be noticeable squeaking and groaning as your wipers are activated. Fixing the problem is simple, but tougher than the other solutions I’ve mentioned so far.
The best option is to replace the whole assembly. There’s a nut that mounts the base of the arm to your vehicle.
Start by removing the dust cap which is hiding the nut you’ll need to remove. You can use a pair of pliers or vice grips to carefully remove this. Next, use a socket driver to remove the nut completely.
At this point, your wiper arm is technically disconnected, but it’s going to be pretty stuck in its position.
Grab a long wedge like a flathead screwdriver. Use a rubber mallet to drive the wedge under your wiper arm. Use the wedge to pry the wiper arm off and replace it with a new one. Repeat the process for the other wiper arm.
I would suggest using an OEM wiper arm for the replacement. Going for a third-party option runs the risk of the arms not working or being made with inferior products. I would hate for your aftermarket wiper arms to squeak as badly as your old ones did.
13. Is Your Windshield Failing?
Finally, it could just be a failing windshield. The glass has little cracks and defects on it that get worse over time. If there are enough defects on your windshield, then you might hear a squeak when the wipers pass a certain area.
If your car gets parked outside, this could be the result of harsh weather, dirt, and direct sunlight over time.
When the windshield is the culprit, there’s nothing you can do except replace the glass. That’s why you should try the other solutions above before settling on this one.
Replacing your glass is an expensive process and you can’t do it on your own. You’ll need to reach out to a local auto glass company and work directly with them.
Your wipers should be squeak-free at this point. As you just saw, there are 13 different reasons why your wipers were squeaking in the first place, and some pretty simple solutions to stop the squeak. If you want to read more car-care guides, explore my blog. I also have some products that you should seriously consider if you want to make your car-owning experience easier.