Fleet Maintenance Supply Experts

Why Winter Wiper Blades Should Be a Priority

18 Wheeler winter wiper blades

Fresh snowfall has a way of making any scene anywhere a beautiful sight. That is unless you are viewing it through ice clogged and crusted wiper blades.

Things can get ugly when wiper blades fail during snowstorms and icy conditions.

Bad weather including sleet and snow causes over 20% of vehicle accidents each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). That makes ensuring wiper blades are in good condition a priority for drivers who face cold and snow during the winter.

Whether you drive a big rig, operate a commercial vehicle of any size or manage a fleet of passenger cars, your winter wiper blade decisions can make the difference between a serene drive and an accident scene.

Read on to learn the key considerations for maximizing your wiper blade performance this winter from the fleet supply experts at Imperial Supplies. Headquartered in Northern Wisconsin, we know a thing or two about winter driving and we’re happy to share.

Safety Starts with Visibility

In hazardous winter conditions, good visibility is more important than ever. You need a clear view around the vehicle to react quickly to other vehicles and hazards. In snowy or icy conditions, when you need more distance to stop, visibility is key and you need wipers working well.

The problem is that traditional wipers, commonly known as frame-, bracket- or hinge-style wipers have metal hardware that gets clogged and iced-up in freezing conditions. Their design, which works fine in a summer rainstorm, just doesn’t cut it when the snow and sleet get serious. In freezing temperatures the rubber often isn’t up to the task, either.

Summer Wipers Don’t Cut It

As cheap and easy as summer windshield wiper blades are, they can make driving in winter weather an arduous, dangerous experience. No one likes having to find a place to pull over in a storm to get out and tap their wipers clean. Not only does it get your boots wet, but it’s also dangerous walking around in traffic in a storm.

Anyone who’s ever found themselves in this situation—or worse yet—tried to smack ice off a moving wiper while driving, may find themselves asking, “Is there such a thing as winter wiper blades?” Yes, drivers of all types of commercial vehicles have many winter wiper options that combine sturdy construction and materials with a design that doesn’t get gummed up by snow and ice.

Wipers Designed for Snow and Ice

So how are winter wiper blades different? To answer that question, let’s start with the basic frame-style wiper. As the name says, they have a sturdy metal frame that supports the rubber wiper blade. The frame affixes to the wiper arm and has multiple springs that create pressure points on the rubber wiper blades so that they conform to the contour of the windshield. Some winter wiper designs wrap the frame mechanics with a rubber cover to keep snow and ice out.

Another winter wiper solution removes moving parts to prevent the deep freeze. Beam-style wipers work by turning the whole blade into a single spring that bends and flexes to maintain even pressure on the windshield. Without the metal frame and hinges, there’s nothing to get clogged with snow. Sometimes called all-weather wipers, the beam style is a sleek alternative that solves the clogging problem without a lot of bulk.

Rubber Considerations, Including Silicon

Winter windshield wipers feature rubber that can remain supple and flexible while standing up to freezing temperatures without cracking and tearing. Some are fortified with materials like Teflon.

For an even more robust solution, consider silicon wipers. Many who wouldn’t have considered silicon before wonder, “are silicon wiper blades better in winter?” Unlike regular rubber wipers that can freeze and stick to the windshield, silicon wipers stay soft and pliable in cold conditions. So they conform well to the contours of the windshield. They also last up to twice as long as rubber wipers. These performance benefits typically come at a higher cost than rubber wipers though.

It Pays to Winterize

In addition to all the other winter preparations you have to make, you may be asking yourself, “Do I really need winter windshield wipers?” The answer depends on the type of conditions you expect to face. If you’re putting on snow tires, you should also put on winter wipers.

It’s also an economic decision. Sure you can save money by not switching from summer wipers to winter wipers each year. But your decision comes at a cost. If you have to stop often to clear ice buildup, it’s costing your business money. It’s also causing a safety issue that could cost you even more.

Proper Wiper Care Makes a Difference

Whether or not you opt for winter wipers, your blades will work better and last longer by following these tips for proper care during freezing temperatures.

  • Flip your wipers up and out when you leave your vehicle so they don’t freeze to the windshield.
  • Turn your wipers off when you shut your engine off to eliminate the risk of them freezing up and then tearing off when you restart.
  • Use your vehicle’s defroster and an ice scraper to clear frozen windshields. Never use hot water. It can shatter glass.
  • Keep your windshield clean to expand the lifespan of wipers.
  • If you’re wondering what to put on wiper blades to keep them from freezing, consider wrapping them in plastic or using winter wiper fluid.

Stay Safe this Winter

When it comes to winter driving, visibility is the most important safety consideration of all. If you can’t see the road ahead, you increase your chances of getting in an accident. That’s why the  FHWA considers using winter-grade wipers a best practice.

Imperial Supplies makes it easy to find the right winter wiper blades for your vehicle type, make, model year and style. With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting record-breaking cold temps and this year’s winter storms coming early and often—you don’t have a moment to lose.

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