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Why Do Windshield Wipers Squeak? How to Fix Them

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Close up from inside the car of the windshield wipers working in heavy rain with visible streaks

Other than a windshield wiper that leaves streaks, nothing is more annoying than one that makes a noise at you while driving. This is a common occurrence because the wipers are not something that most of us worry about until they crack and rip and need to be replaced. But why do windshield wipers squeak?

Numerous reasons can be the cause of a wiper blade that squeaks when being used. The most common is a dirty windshield because wipers are not designed to clean. The second issue is something on the wiper itself, such as mud or ice. The final cause could be an old wiper that needs replacing.

Windshield wipers are made to move back and forth across the window in a smooth, fluid motion. When they don’t, more times than not, they will make some sort of protest, such as squeaking or leaving marks. Let’s check into this topic a little more in-depth to better understand the problems that may cause this and how to fix them.

Why Your Windshield Wiper Is Squeaking

A squeaking windshield wiper can be hazardous when driving in several ways. It can be distracting to the driver because of the annoyance of the sound to the point of turning them off. This causes another driving hazard because you will not be able to see the road in front of you.

Before you try to fix them, you need to find the root cause of the problem. If you get lucky, changing the wiper out for a new one may solve the issue, but if that is not the problem, you may have wasted some money on a product you did not need.

  • Windshield – Check the windshield for imperfections or debris.
  • If you find debris clean the window thoroughly.
  • If you find a chip, get it repaired immediately.
  • If you have a crack in the glass, have it replaced
  • Wiper – Check to see what condition the wiper is in.
  • Remove any debris with a clean cloth.
  • If there are any cracks or knicks out of the blade, replace it
  • Make sure the blade is on the correct way, secure, and not moving
  • Wiper Arm – See if the wiper arm is in good shape.
  • If the arm is bent, try to get it back into shape. If not possible, replace it.
  • If the arm is too long for the window, replace it with one designed for your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
  • Wiper Speed – The wiper speeds are designed to use in the appropriate conditions. If there is only a sprinkle of rain, a wiper on high speed will squeak. Adjust the speed of the wiper according to the amount of rain or snow coming down.

If the wipers are making noises other than the typical sound of the windshield washer pump engaging, you need to diagnose the problem. Once the problem is discovered, it is a simple process to fix the issue since most of the required repairs are on the low end of the skill tree. If you have some tools, you can easily fix the problem on your own.

car windshield wipers, wiper arms, and the motor isolated against a white background

Why Do Brand New Windshield Squeak

Wipers straight out of the package can squeak just as bad as older ones that have been on the vehicle for a while. That is why it is so important to follow the troubleshooting guide above to find the cause of the problem. If you have gone through the checklist and everything was in good shape except for the wipers, you have another problem to figure out.

9 out of 10 times when you have reached this stage of the problem, the culprit can be found on the blades of the new wiper. When packaged, the blade is coated with a protectant designed to keep it in good condition when left on the shelf. Wipe this coating off with a clean cloth, and if needed, use an old toothbrush to scrape the layer off without harming the blade.

Another simple solution would be to let them work in the rain until the coating comes off naturally. Yes, it will squeak and squawk until the coating is gone, but if you can ignore the noise for a short time, you will have extended the life of your blades. The coating will keep them in good shape. Once it is gone, the wipers will start breaking down and decaying.

Close up of car windshield wipers working in motion on a rainy day

Can You Lubricate Your Windshield Wipers

When trying to conserve the wipers you have on the car, for whatever reason you have, you can use some lubricant to soften them back up. As long as they are not ripped or decayed, this solution will extend your wipers’ life and decrease the noise they make upon the window when moving.

  • Clean the wipers with soap and water
  • Use a toothbrush to scrub off all the debris
  • Wipe it down with more warm water
  • Let it dry
  • Spray silicone lubricant on the wiper
  • Let it dry before using

It is a very simple process that can repair wipers still in good condition but showing signs of wear. If they are beyond that point, don’t waste your time. Get down to your local auto parts store and buy a new set.

Conclusion

When windshield wipers squeak, it hits a nerve in the back of your neck that makes you cringe. Turning them off is not an option most of the time, though, so it only makes sense to try and fix the problem. It may be simple, but it can be the beginning of a bigger problem, which is why you should never let the noise go until you have checked everything out.

New wipers are the answer the majority of the time, but not always. Take the time to diagnose the problem so it can be fixed properly. If you do not have the time, or energy, to find the problem, have a mechanic look at it so they can fix it and send you on your way.

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References:

Motor Hills

family handyman

HELLA

Are Your Windshield Wipers Squeaking?

Amazon

DEWALT Mechanics Tool Set

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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