Easy Fixes for Common Windshield Wiper Problems

A good set of wiper blades will give you a clear view of the road ahead. That includes oncoming traffic, sharp corners, and obstacles you’d rather avoid. So, it should come as no surprise that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says those bits of plastic and rubber are vital for safe driving. When your wiper blades are skipping, leaving streaks, squeaking, chattering, or simply smearing your windshield, try these easy fixes. If you still have issues, stop by Les Schwab. We have the wiper blades you need in stock.

Common Wiper Problems You Can Fix Yourself

Dust, dirt, road debris, bugs, as well as snow and ice will find their way onto your windshield. Thankfully, most obstructions can be quickly removed — or at least pushed out of the way with your wiper fluid and blades. When your blades aren’t working as well as you like, these quick ideas may help.

Clean Your Windshield by Hand

Dirt buildup might be too much for your wiper blades to handle. Break out the soapy water, a light scrubby brush, and elbow grease. If you’re at the gas station, use the windshield squeegees.

Clean Your Wiper Blades

Using warm, soapy water and a cloth, give every bit of your wiper-blade assembly a good cleaning. That includes the metal arm, plastic, and rubber bits. Allow to dry, then carefully wipe the rubber blades with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Wipers That Leave Streaks or Water Smears

Do your wiper blades leave streaks or smears even after you’ve cleaned everything? Try these remedies before buying new blades.


Dirty streaked windshield

There is a chance there is debris lodged on your wiper blade or windshield. Carefully clean your windshield and wiper blades as explained in the common wiper problem fixes section of this article. If the problem persists, get new blades.

Smearing (in both directions)

Windshield smeared with snow and dirt

Either your windshield is too dirty for your blades to clean, your blades are too worn to function, or you need better wiper fluid. First, try cleaning the blades and windshield. Then, add wiper fluid formulated for your region and weather.

Smearing (in one direction)

Smeared windshield

This often happens in colder weather. New blades won’t fix the problem, but better wiper fluid could make an impact. Look for fluid rated for colder temperatures.

Wipers That Chatter or Squeak Against Your Windshield

Anytime they make squealing sounds or skip/chatter across the windshield, they’re not only making it hard for you to see, they could be damaging your windshield.


Shattering windshield wiper

When wipers chatter, it’s time for a new set of blades, according to the NHTSA. But before you invest in new wipers, take a look at the wiper arms. If the rubber blades aren’t making full contact with the windshield, the arms could be bent. Try to carefully bend them back into place. If you’re not comfortable with that, stop by Les Schwab. Our pros can take a look and make recommendations. Additionally, a buildup of wax, oil, or grease on the windshield and blades could cause the issue.

Is it cold outside? Ice on the window (even if you cannot see it), can cause chattering and skipping. Turn on the defroster and allow your windshield to thaw.

Frosted over windshield


First, be sure the metal or plastic from the blades isn’t rubbing against your windshield. If they are, get new blades. If the blades appear to be okay, try cleaning the windshield and blades.

Water Droplets or Beading Won’t Wipe Away

Windshield wipers are supposed to remove water from your windshield. But air pollution (smog) and other debris in the rain and air can make it hard for them to do their job.

Raindrops on windshield

If you live in or near a larger city or where air pollution might be an issue, and water droplets or beads of water aren’t being removed by your wipers, give your windshield a good cleaning every other time you fill up with gas or charge your EV. Don’t forget to give the blades (the rubber parts of the assembly) good cleaning as well.

Ice or Snow Is Building Up on Your Wipers

When snow and ice accumulate on your windshield, your wiper blades probably won’t be much use. If you try to use them when they are covered or frozen in place, you could damage the blades, the metal arms that hold them in place, and internal parts.

Snow buildup on windshield

To avoid damaging your wiper assembly, and to get your wipers working, carefully remove all snow and scrape away any ice from the windshield. Finally, defrost your vehicle and windshield.

If the wipers still won’t work after being defrosted, there is a chance the components inside the base of the wiper arms have been stripped or damaged. The pros at Les Schwab can take a look and make recommendations.

Wiper Blade Issues That May Require a Mechanic

Sometimes, no amount of cleaning will fix wiper blades that aren’t doing their job. Here are a few of those times and what to do about it.

Wipers Not Moving

Are they frozen in place by snow and ice? First try to defrost them. If they still are not working, the motor that runs the wiper assembly could be damaged. A certified mechanic can inspect yours and install a new one.

Wiper Arm Broken

Broekn wiper blade

If the wiper assembly arm is broken, the blades won’t do you any good. See a mechanic or your manufacturer’s service center (dealership) for parts and installation.

Bent Arm

Bent wiper arm

Straightening the arm of your windshield wiper assembly is a relatively easy job. But there is a chance you could break something and cause even more damage. If you’re unsure, stop by Les Schwab for a quick inspection and free advice.

Drive Safer With a Clear View: Les Schwab’s Free Wiper Blade Checks

Are your wiper blades past their prime? Les Schwab can replace yours for better visibility in any weather. Stop by or schedule your appointment today. Our pros will give your blades a free safety check and show you all of your options.