The Real Reason People Lift Their Wipers in a Snowstorm
Last night, my wife and I did something we've seen other couples try but never had the nerve to attempt ourselves: before bed, we went outside to our car and raised the windshield wipers in anticipation of the coming storm. What I didn't know was the swirl of controversy that surrounds such a relatively simple-seeming action, and the true reason why people actually do it.
Do You Raise Your Blades?
I'll admit, I've been curious about this for a while. I first saw this phenomenon skiing at Bellayre as a kid. As we drove through the parking lot, we'd pass rows of cars with their windshield wipers pointing to the sky as the snow fell. I always thought it was just to make cleaning the snow off their car easier when they returned from the lifts, but I recently learned there's even more benefits people think they're getting when they put their blades in "launch" position. The problem is, experts don't seem to all agree.
The Best Reasons to Do It
Surprisingly, the biggest reason people say they lift their wipers isn't for ease of cleaning, but to help preserve the integrity of the rubber on their blades. The brand Rain-X has this advice on their website:
Pull your wiper blades away from the windshield during winter months to prevent ice build-up on the rubber squeegee and to prevent them from sticking to the windshield.
As soon as I saw that, I was instantly transported back to last month's ice storm. Before I could leave work, I had to spend way too much time not only chiseling at my windshields, windows, and headlights, but I actually needed to pull chunks of frozen sleet off my wiper blades by hand. That's when the idea of raising my wipers started to creep into my head. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. While wiper brands and ski bunnies seem to have no problem with this habit, there's an entirely different school of thought that says the exact opposite...
More Harm Than Good
While many people lift their wipers to prevent damage to the rubber, apparently while they may be avoiding blade damage, the actual springs that keep them tightly pressed to the windshield could be suffering. According to Canadian AAA (which is CAA if you're keeping score) poses a strong opposition:
Whatever the reason, lifting your wipers isn’t a good idea. Over time, doing so is likely to reduce the pressure of the blades against the windshield, which could result in visibility issues, especially in snowy conditions.
It seems like we're at an impasse.
So What Should I Do?
Unfortunately, the answer is a little frustrating: whatever you want. Personally, I've been convinced to leave them down in the future. The truth is that my defroster does a great job unfreezing the blades from the windshield, and while I don't feel any tension on the springs once they're in their full and upright position, I'd rather not take the chance. Plus, giving your vehicle two extra antennae does look a little silly.
It won't help your car, but if you have a driveway like mine that needs constant shoveling in the winter, check out the best local snow removal services below.