When the weather is nice, you likely don't give your windshield wipers a second thought. When the rain starts to fall, however, it is imperative that your wipers function properly. Even if they manage to sweep the water away to ensure good visibility, there are other issues that can occur. One common issue is squeaking, and this is not only annoying but can also cause undue wear and tear on your windshield wipers. That additional strain on your wipers increases the likelihood of them breaking down when you need them most.
There are a multitude of things that can cause windshield wiper squeaking, or chatter. These range from simply being dirty to problems with the wiper assembly. The good news is that, regardless of the cause of the distracting noise, there is a simple fix. The bad news is that diagnosing the root of the problem is often a matter of trial and error, and one of the following repair methods should do the trick.
Method 1 of 7: Thorough cleaning
One potential cause of squeaking is simply built-up grime on your windshield, and this is easily fixed with a thorough cleaning with materials from home or using the glass cleaning supplies at a gas station when on the go. Windshields need to be checked for small pitting damage from road sand and salt damage. If damaged the windshield may need to be replaced.
- Glass cleaner
- Squeegee or clean cloth
Step 1: Spray cleaner. Apply the glass cleaner to the windshield by liberally spraying it on the windshield or with the soft side of a squeegee that has been dipped in cleaner.
Step 2: Wipe cleaner. Wipe the cleaner and the dirt away with a clean cloth or the rubber side of a squeegee.
Step 3: Apply cleaner to wiper blade. Apply the glass cleaner to the wiper blades and wipe the length of the blade with the soft side of the squeegee or cloth to clean off excess dirt and debris from the rubber blade.
Step 4: Check blade condition. Check the blade condition for damage from cuts, tears, cracks, stiff or not pliable rubber. Replace if any problems are seen.
Method 2 of 7: Refill windshield wiper fluid
Another cause of wiper chatter is a lack of moisture on your windshield. With a little extra lubrication, the blades can pass across the glass smoothly and silently. If you are low or out of windshield wiper fluid to add that lubrication, simply refill it.
- Funnel (optional)
- Windshield wiper fluid
Step 1: Locate your windshield wiper fluid reservoir under the hood. It is usually a plastic container and is marked as being for wiper fluid or bears an icon resembling wipers on a windshield.
Step 2: Unscrew cap and fill. Unscrew the cap and pour windshield wiper fluid to just below the top, using a funnel if desired to prevent spillage.
Method 3 of 7: Soften the wiper blades
Sometimes, you can restore a hardened wiper blade to almost new condition simply by softening it. If you happen to have the required materials on hand, you may wish to try this method to save a trip to the auto parts store for a replacement blade.
- WD-40 or rubbing alcohol
- Paper towels
Step 1: Apply alcohol to towel. Liberally apply WD-40 or rubbing alcohol to a paper towel.
Step 2: Wipe wiper blade. Wipe the blade clean with the saturated towel.
Step 3: Dry blade. Use a clean towel and wipe off blade till dry (excess WD-40 may streak window).
Method 4 of 7: Remove wax products from windshield
In the event that your windshield wiper squeaks began shortly after applying a wax product like Rain-X to your windshield, that may be the culprit. This is another simple fix that just entails removing the product.
- Clean, non-abrasive cloth
- Glass polish
Step 1: Dampen cloth. Dampen the cloth with water, and wring out any excess.
Step 2: Apply glass polish. Apply a quarter-size amount of glass polish to the cloth, and rub it onto your windshield in firm, circular motions. Add more polish as needed and continue until your entire windshield has been treated.
Step 3 Rinse. Rinse your windshield thoroughly with water.
Method 5 of 7: Replace the wiper blade
Worn wiper blades are a common cause of squeaks, as rough edges don't slide across the windshield smoothly. Replacement blades are usually inexpensive and are easy to swap in place of the old ones.
- Blade refill
Step 1: Lift up wiper arm. Lift up your windshield wiper arm to access the blade easily.
Step 2: Pull out blade. Firmly grasp the rubber blade from the side furthest from the wiper assembly, and pull it out.
Step 3: Thread in new blade. Thread the new blade assembly into the wiper structure till it locks in place.
Method 6 of 7: Adjust tightness of wiper assembly
Over time, the tightness of your wiper assembly can change, becoming either too tight or too loose. This can be caused by built-up snow or ice, drastic temperature changes, or the accumulation of debris. Fortunately, it is simple to make the necessary adjustments.
- Flathead screwdriver
- Socket to fit wiper arm nut
Step 1: Determine whether the assembly is too tight or too loose. This is largely a subjective assessment and may take a bit of trial and error. Simply wiggle the arm gently. If it feels wobbly, tightening the assembly is in order.
- Tip: If there isn't any give when you attempt to jiggle it, try loosening the assembly.
Step 2: Pry off plastic cover. At the base of the wiper arm, pry off the plastic cover (if present) with a flathead screwdriver to reveal the nut and bolt that holds the wiper in place.
Step 3: Adjust bolt. Attach the socket to the ratchet, and use it to either tighten or loosen the bolt, remembering the adage "righty tighty, lefty loosey."
Method 7 of 7: Replace entire wiper assembly
If none of the previous methods remedied your squeaking issue, you may need to replace the whole windshield wiper assembly. While this may sound like an arduous task, it is usually far simpler than it sounds.
- Wiper arm assembly (Drivers and passenger side arms are different on most vehicles)
- Flathead screwdriver
- Socket to fit the retaining nut or bolt
Step 1: Pop off plastic cover. At the base of the wiper assembly, pop off the plastic cover if one is present.
Step 2: Remove wiper assembly. Remove the nut or bolt that holds the wiper arm in place using the socket and ratchet. Note that some varieties of wiper assemblies do not use a nut or bolt and instead clip into place. In this case, simply pop the assembly off with the flathead screwdriver. Some arms have a slide clip that you pull to the side with a small screwdriver and lifting the assembly up and off.
Step 3: Install new wiper assembly. Bolt the new wiper assembly into place or press a clip-style assembly onto its post aligning the arm to the same location on the windshield or stop location on the trim panel under the windshield. This is the park position. Tighten the retaining nut or bolt to specifications.
While diagnosing the cause of squeaky windshield wipers can be time-consuming, it is usually easy to repair once the culprit has been identified. If, however, you cannot identify why your wipers chatter or squeal or if you do not feel comfortable attempting a repair on your own, certified mechanics are available to help. They can quickly ascertain the problem with your windshield wipers and make any adjustments or replacements without any fuss.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Fix Squeaky Windshield Wiper Blades and was authored by Jay Safford.