I was sitting in my car at a red light in the pouring rain and my windshield wipers weren’t wiping off the water properly. Instead, they were making squeaking and chattering noises.
Red light turned green and I started driving, thinking the whole time about why these things are not doing their job. I came home and started researching the issue.
Since then I have found some really good information on why they are not working and what I can do to fix them. And spoiler alert. I fixed them. Permanently.
What causes windshield wipers to make loud, annoying noises?
There could be a lot of things and diagnosing a jittering and skipping wiper blades isn’t difficult at all. It just takes a little bit of clear mind and patience.
New wiper blades.
New wiper blades are stiff and might not easily conform to the contours of your windshield which results in them not wiping off the rainwater or cleaning the windshield when you need them.
These new blades are covered in a fine, white powder. This prevents wiper blades rubber from going bad when they are stored in auto shops and also helps to slide easily on the windshield when the rubber is new and a little bit hard.
Some manufacturers don’t use this white powder so there is more friction between the wiper blades and glass which results in loud chattering and juddering noises.
You can use isopropyl alcohol and wipe it on with a shop towel or cloth to soften the rubber on the windshield wipers.
Damaged wiper blades.
Windshield wiper blades sit outside on the windshield and are exposed to all the weather elements like sand, dirt, and debris. These often get stuck between the rubber and causes the wipers to not work properly.
Also loose sand that is stuck in wiper blades can scratch and damage the windshield glass very easily. A windshield wiper that is cracked can only be replaced. You can not fix it.
Hardened rubber due to UV rays of the sun.
Wiper blades are usually made up of synthetic rubber which is good at wiping the water and cleaning the windshield but it can also easily get damaged by the harmful UV rays from the sun.
These UV rays harden and dry out the rubber so it does not wipes on the windshield glass smoothly and makes horrible noises when wiping.
Cheap wiper blades.
Cheap wiper blades that cost 10$ or less, don’t last and can even break in 3-4 months if you live in a really hot place like Texas or New Mexico.
This is why I always tell people to go and buy a good quality wiper blades like the ones made out of silicone. Yes, these are expensive when compared to rubber wiper blades that we usually get from the auto store, but they last a long time.
Cheap wiper fluids
There are a lot of cheap windshield wiper fluids on the market that are just waste of money. They hardly clean any dirt and bugs off and even contains caustic substances that damage the paint.
These cheap wiper fluids do not provide enough lubrication so wipers move with a lot of friction and damage the windshield glass.
Always use an all-season windshield washer fluid so it does not freeze in cold.
How to fix windshield wiper noises and make them work again?
Clean the wiper blades
Most people don’t care about their wiper blades. They use them in rain and never clean them. They just let the dirt and sand get collected on them which ruins them.
Truth is, wiper blades need a little bit of cleaning every once in a while. And it is really easy to clean them. Hardly takes like 5 to 10 minutes. I use denatured alcohol and shop towels to wipe off the dirt and grime from the windshield wipers.
You will be shocked to see how much dirt and grime come off from these rubber blades. Once clean, the wiper should slide smoothly across your windshield without making any weird noises.
Imagine if you were a wiper blade and sitting out in the sun with dirt and debris getting all over you. You won’t be happy and won’t do the job that you were supposed to.
Clean the windshield
Wiper blades work on windshield and no matter how good or how high-quality wiper blades you get for your car, if your windshield is dirty and filled with dirt and grime, they are not going to work and make all sorts of annoying noises.
Cleaning the windshield is also very simple and should not take you more than 10 minutes to do it properly. Just use some good quality windshield cleaner and clean your windshield.
Also, pay special attention to where the blade wiper blades sit when they are not in use. Usually, this is where most of the dust and grime get stuck most.
Replace the wiper blades
I used to use the normal 10$ wiper blades from auto parts store on my cars and I was annoyed about how quickly they degraded no matter how much I took care of them.
I did some research and found out that silicone is the better material than rubber for wiper blades. Silicone wiper blades are more expensive than normal rubber ones usually found at most auto-part stores and they also last longer than rubber wiper blades If you get some decent quality silicone wiper blades and take good care of them by just cleaning with denatured alcohol every once in a while, then they will last a long time and won’t cost you anything in the long run.
You might be wondering if silicone wiper blades are that much better than rubber wiper blades then why don’t they sell them on auto parts store? Well, I asked them and they said: Frank, we sell thousands of wiper blades every month and if we start selling silicone wiper blades, which generally last longer than rubber ones, we would not be selling thousands and making much fewer profits than we usually do.
So don’t expect to see the silicone wiper blades anytime soon in any auto parts store.
I have a pair installed on my truck and it is still working great after 5 years.
Windshield Washer Fluid
The windshield washer fluid you are currently using may not lubricate wiper blades enough so they can slide across windshield properly hence making loud and annoying noises.
I always recommend people to use a good quality all season washer fluid that lubricates the windshield and wiper blades enough so they can wipe across smoothly and it does not freeze in cold weather.
RainX is my personal favorite and I have been using it for years now. Works great for me and a lot of other people I know.
Windshield glass treatment
Sometimes the problem might not be your wiper blades and replacing them won’t always solve the problem.
I learned this when I was going to pick up my daughter from school in the pouring rain and was annoyed by the horrible noises that windshield wipers made. I thought that I needed new wiper blades so I went to an auto-parts store and bought a new pair.
A few days later, when it started raining again, the same horrible noises were there already. So I did some research and found out that my windshield was the problem here.
Dirt and grime from the environment had made little groves and imperfections in the windshield and the water was sticking to it and causing friction which caused windshield wipers to not work properly and make the same horrible noises.
I have used and tested a lot of rain repellents over the last few years and have found that RainX works well then most of them. I just sprayed a liberal amount on the windshield and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Then I buffed it with a clean microfiber cloth. And guess what? The wiper blades went smoothly and no longer made jittering noises.
What if you are on the road?
If you are on the road and start hearing the annoying wiper sounds, the best and easiest thing you can do is clean them with alcohol wipes.
It won’t fix the problem permanently but will greatly help in wiping off the rainwater or cleaning your windshield and improve your visibility on the road.
How to avoid windshield wiper noises in the future?
Replacing windshield wipers when they are old.
Rubber windshield wipers don’t last any more than a year and if you live in really hot weather like texas then they won’t even last 6 months. Rubber deteriorates much faster from heat and grime than silicone does.
I did some research and found out that silicone is the better material than the rubber that is typically used in the wiper blades. After reading about silicone wiper blades I purchased these from Amazon to see if they are any good and guess what, they are really good.
Clean your blades
If you want any wiper blades to last long you should clean them with denatured alcohol to remove any dirt or grime from them. It’s really easy to clean them.
Just put some denatured or isopropyl alcohol on a shop towel or microfiber cloth and rub it back and forth on the wiper blade three to four times and you are good to go.
Denatured Alcohol is cheap and you can buy it online or any hardware store. It is really useful for cleaning almost everything.
Clean and polish your windshield.
Cleaning your windshield glass is as important as cleaning your wiper blades. Because if you clean your wiper blades really good and the glass is still dirty with dirt and grime over it, it won’t do any good in reducing those annoying wiper noises.
I like to use a good windshield cleaner or denatured alcohol and microfiber cloth to remove all the dirt and grime from my windshield. Then I apply some RainX on the glass if it’s rainy season. It helps the water to just bead off and helps the wiper blades to slide smoothly across the windshield glass.
If it’s not rainy season, I find it best to use a polish the glass with wax-free car polish. Just remember to always use a wax-free car polish so it won’t build up on wiper blades and cause them to jitter across the windshield.
Always use a good quality windshield wiper fluid.
Cheap wiper fluids that usually costs 1$ a gallon are not any good. The manufactures don’t even tell you the ingredients and always come with warnings like “this stuff contains chemicals that are usually known to cause cancer.”
The cheap washer fluids used methanol in them as a cleaning agent which is not good for your car’s paint so here is another reason to not use them. I always like to use RainX windshield all-season wiper fluid in my cars because I don’t have to worry about it freezing in the cold weather and it also won’t damage the windshield wipers.
And being a RainX product also helps the water to just bead off the glass. Whatever you buy just don’t try to make your own to save some money. Because you are not going to save anything. Really.
In the end
When it comes to car-problems, windshield wiper noises are the least noises you need to worry about. That said, they should not be kept on the bottom of your to-do list because they really help to provide you good visibility in poor weather conditions.
If you are not comfortable in doing anything, watch a couple of YouTube videos.
Fixing windshield wipers is really an easy job. So don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and learn something(s) new.