The great debate - leaving your windshield wipers up or down before a snowstorm. What do you do?

It's not uncommon to see wipers propped up on cars before a snowstorm hits, especially in northern states. It makes it much easier to clear the snow off the windshield. But is it harming the blades? It depends on who you ask.

New York Digs Out From Winter Snowstorm
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Harmful to Blades?

AAA says leaving wipers up puts stress on the spring that holds the wiper arms against the windshield, making them less effective over time.

Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations at AAA Northeast disagrees. "I don’t see any harm in it, though you still have to clean the snow off the glass."

Make sure to always remember to turn off your wipers before turning off the car. If they are accidentally left on, they could burn out the windshield wiper motor when you start your car the next time and the blades try to push through the heavy snow. Been there. Done that.

Winter Weather Descends On DC Area
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Propping Wipers Up:

  • Prevents damage to the wiper motor, should you turn on the ignition and accidentally leave the wipers on, and they’re frozen to the windshield. (Also done a time or two)
  • Prevents damaging the rubber, when you have to chisel them away from the windshield.
  • Makes clearing away snow and ice from the windshield easier.

Leaving Wipers Down:

  • Prevents damaging the springs inside the blade arm.
  • The defroster releases frozen blades.
Northeast Hit With Major Snowstorm
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Snow Clearing Tips

The easiest way to clear snow, without having a garage, is to put a blanket over your windshield before a storm. When you head out, pull off the blanket, and viola - clean windshield. You can even wet your cover with a liquid mix of one tablespoon of salt and one quart of water. Be sure to keep it in a plastic bag or container between uses.

There's also a DIY solution that works well. Use one part rubbing alcohol and two parts water. Add a few drops of dish soap and spray on your windshield. Ice will wipe off more easily. Or do what Noah Hudson did on TikTok. Just put warm or room temperature, NOT HOT water in a plastic bag and rub away the frost.

Wiper Tips

Whether you put your windshield wipers up or leave them down, AAA provides tips to make sure they are working properly.

  • Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe.
  • Replace any blade that leaves streaks or missed spots.
  • Consider installing all-weather wiper blades that have a one-piece plastic beam frame or winter blades that wrap the metal frame in a rubber boot. Both designs help prevent snow and ice buildup that can interfere with blade-to-glass contact.
  • Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution with antifreeze components. Some window washer solution is rated to just 20 degrees, but in cold weather, this solution can freeze and damage the washer system. Look for washer fluid that protects well below freezing temperatures.

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