How long do windshield wipers last?

in Ownership
windshield wipers

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Windshield wipers are a simple but essential piece of any road-safe vehicle. They’re the piece we tend to forget about until we need them. And we know that the contrast between new, well-maintained windshield wipers and worn-out ones can be startling. Like every other component of your vehicle, it’s essential to properly care for your windshield wipers so they can continue to keep you safe when the weather gets rough.

We’ll break down how long windshield wipers last, and how you know when to replace them.

Windshield wiper lifespans: 6 - 12 months

Experts say that, on average, windshield wiper blades should be replaced every ​6 to 12 months​, depending on several factors like material, use, and the climate in which you live. Even different brands have different lifespans and may last you as many as three years (under very unusual circumstances.)

Therefore, when pondering how long windshield wipers last, we must address what factors affect them:      

Wiper blade material

​Most cars fresh from the dealership come with standard rubber windshield wipers, which are the least expensive but least durable form of wiper blade. The next step up are halogen-hardened rubber blades, which don’t tear quite as easily as their more basic counterpart. Silicone blades have the highest lifespan of all wiper blade material and may last up to 4 years with proper care and maintenance.


Extreme weather at either end of the spectrum has the potential to wear out your blades. Very cold or wet environments have the potential to damage your blades just by forcing them to work harder under harsh conditions. Very hot or dry climates can also cause cracks in your blades if they aren’t shaded, as extensive UV exposure breaks down rubber material.

Daily usage

How often your wipers operate will, of course, affect their longevity. An every-day commuter will likely need its blades replaced more often than your just-for-the-weekend sports car. 


Cars would fall apart if we didn’t take care of them. And that’s true for their components, as well. It’s not the most fun part of vehicle maintenance, but regularly inspecting and cleaning your windshield wipers can make them last for many more miles.


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How to tell if your windshield wipers need replacing

The jury’s still out on exactly how often you should be replacing your windshield wipers. And most time-specific suggestions are an estimation based on the average wiper-use of the average driver. But you might need to replace yours much more or much less often depending on how often you drive and what the weather’s like where you live. The important thing is that you know ​what signs to look for​ that signal that it’s time to replace your windshield wipers.

Squeaking ​

Wipers shouldn’t squeak. The sound is incredibly irritating, but a squeak can mean that there’s wear or damage to the blade, causing it to make uneven contact with your windshield. A fully-functional and well-maintained wiper will do its job in silence.

Jerking or “chattering”

Jerking or wiggling is caused when the wiper makes uneven or broken contact with your windshield. Instead of the entire blade gliding evenly across the wet surface, different points will catch or “bounce” the blade. Creaking, vibration or uneven movement of your wipers indicates extensive or uneven damage, telling you it’s time for new ones.


Effective windshield wipers should completely clear a space of water, leaving an open window for the driver to see through. Worn-out wipers can leave streaks across a windshield, caused by tears or holes in the blades where water can slip through and linger on the screen.

Wet spots

If your wipers aren’t removing water at all, go to the dealer now and get new ones. Big wet patches on your windshield mean that the blades are no longer making ANY contact with your windshield, rendering them completely ineffective.


This is the worst-case-scenario of windshield wiper wear and means that your blades should have been replaced a long time ago. If wipers are leaving scratches on your windshield, this means that there’s no rubber between the glass and the metal of the wiper itself. Repairing your windshield is a much more expensive endeavor than replacing your blades, so don’t let this happen to you!


Most car dealerships are independently owned and operated, so you might pay thousands more in fees at one dealership than at another. Here’s how to find a good car dealership. 

How to extend the life of your windshield wipers

Here’s how to get the most mileage out of your windshield wipers - wherever you live and whatever you drive.

Buy custom or specialized blades

​If you do live in a place that experiences temperature extremes, go for weather-specific blades the next time you replace yours. Most major windshield wiper brands offer blades specifically designed for optimal performance in snow and ice. ​BF Goodrich offers specialized off-road wipers​ for dealing with mud and gravel if you regularly drive off the beaten path.

Use proper cleaning solutions only

Dish soap is great for dishes but should never be used in the place of windshield washing fluid. The chemicals in most dish soaps can break down the rubber wiper blade and will shorten its shelf-life. And dish soap may even damage the coating on the wiper arms, exposing the metal underneath making them vulnerable to rust damage.

Do some TLC

Cleaning your blades regularly can help to mitigate damage caused by debris, tree sap, or dust. Wipe them down once every week or so with either rubbing alcohol or a solution of water and white vinegar. And don’t forget to clean your windshield while filling up the tank! Removing grime from the path of your wipers will make their job easier and help them last longer.


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