How can I stop my wipers from squeaking?

25

2

As I was driving my car I had my windshield wipers on the lowest setting, which after they return to their resting position there's about a one-second break before they start up again. I had them on as it was a light rain and I needed to keep my windshield clear because it was dark and other drivers had their headlights on.

I can't stand the sound of windshield wipers squeaking; it's almost as bad as scratching a chalkboard, so at times I find myself turning them off, because they make this noise only to have to put them back about 5-10 of seconds later to clear by screen. I know that if my windshield is bone dry or there is a fairly consistent amount of water on the screen it wont make this noise.

So I am wondering how can I reduce/stop this awful squeaking without having to contently flick my windshield wipers on and off while still being able to keep my windshield clear?

Memor-X

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 432

9-1, Shows no research effort. – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T16:41:01.897

1

Make the best out of it: A windshield wipers rap!

– Alex – 2015-05-15T06:30:40.323

2@CaptainObvious Funny, your link lead me here. – 3ventic – 2016-05-17T16:59:57.687

Answers

27

Wiper squeaking is usually caused by bad wiper blades. Check and replace them.

lal

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 479

8Welcome to Lifehacks! Buying new wipers is not much of a hack. – Mooseman – 2015-05-13T11:24:25.170

17

The squeaking is caused by two major factors:

  1. Hardening of the silicone, graphite, or rubber wiper blade.
  2. Dirt on the blade, or less commonly on the windshield.

If cleaning the windshield and wiper blade does not resolve the squeaking, then buy new blades. The hardened rubber will be ineffective at removing mud and leaves from the windshield, and in severe instances may become brittle and crack. When the rubber cracks it may expose the end of the wiper arm to the windshield, which leaves a characteristic bow-shaped scratch in the windshield.

Windshield wipers are an inexpensive safety feature of the vehicle. Maintain them properly.

dotancohen

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 581

I don't agree with this assessment. I bought the cheapest wipers I could find on Amazon a couple of years ago and they squeaked horribly right out of the box. I bought some more, paying about an extra 30% and they were fine and still are. – Lefty – 2015-05-13T20:40:07.537

1@Lefty: It sounds like the wipers that you bought were either of very low quality, and thus slightly hard right out of the factory, or they were NOS (new-old stock) that has gone bad (hardened). The squeaking sound is actually the rubber itself vibrating and resonating. As you probably know, only a rigid (hardened) body can resonate. – dotancohen – 2015-05-13T20:55:11.633

Yes. They were incredibly cheap. Having said that, I've bought cheaper in the past that were OK. I need to think about the idea that only hardened rubber will squeak...What about when good ones get old, why don't they squeak? – Lefty – 2015-05-13T21:17:24.663

@Lefty: You might want to ask that on Chemistry.SE. My guess is that there are different failure mechanisms and different materials. Some blades may be more prone to forming a rigid surface with a pliable (energy absorbing) center, perhaps as that outer surface is the part exposed to the sun and elements. Other blades might become rigid throughout, leading to squeaking. If you do ask there, post a link. Thanks.

– dotancohen – 2015-05-13T21:56:01.923

1many blades will squeak out of the box, but it should go away after a few uses. nothing unusual about that. – ell – 2015-05-13T22:08:13.853

@sgroves I persevered with them for about 2 months and it got worse. I tried cleaning them, cleaning the screen and waxing the screen - nothing made any difference whatsoever. Every drop of rain filled my life with dread. The few pounds I had to spend replacing them was a good investment. – Lefty – 2015-05-13T22:21:20.387

2@Lefty then i agree with the others that you just bought crappy blades. buy better ones next time. decent blades don't squeak unless they're brand new or worn out. no lifehacks are needed. – ell – 2015-05-13T22:25:26.163

Yes, I did buy better ones - but it's not that simple because as I've explained, I've bought CHEAPER ones in the past that have been OK so the correlation between price and quality is not simple. – Lefty – 2015-05-13T22:35:01.523

@Lefty: I assure you that the cheap blades have other drawbacks, even if they don't squeak. They may lift at high speed, or not move leaves or mud, or may break off in chunks instead of simply cracking, or may whistle in the wind, or fly off in a crosswind, or one of many other problems that I've seem wiper blades cause. Like tires, once you've seen all the ways things can go bad you start to appreciate how much value expensive windshield wipers provide. – dotancohen – 2015-05-14T06:09:10.253

@dotancohen I'd need some evidence before I believe that. The only downside I've ever experienced from buying the cheapest blades I can get ALL THE TIME is this once when they squeaked intolerably. I know many, many drivers and I've never once heard anyone experience any of the other dangerous symptoms you've suggested. – Lefty – 2015-05-14T06:16:34.847

@Lefty: You've never seen a blade fly off in the wind, or one that won't wipe well at high speed? Most drivers don't know that their blades won't wipe away mud until they unexpectedly get mud splashed on the windshield and the wipers just spear it. Those are relatively common, but I've seen even worse. I worked a few years in automotive parts stores and as a tech in a Ford dealership, so maybe I've been exposed to more of the riff-raff than most. – dotancohen – 2015-05-14T07:33:07.173

@dotancohen I think we live in very different places! Where I live, your windscreen will very occasionally get splashed with slightly dirty water - but never mud! Also, we don't have hurricanes so, no, I've never heard of anybody ever losing a wiper in a high wind. – Lefty – 2015-05-14T11:42:35.740

I have lost a wiper blade in highwind and had quite a bit of mud, I live in the south of the UK where the weather is not usually that extreme. Birdmess while driving is another problem that is not easy to shift even with OK wipers and washer fluid, not sure how tough it would be with warn ones. – TafT – 2015-05-14T13:41:11.507

I would suggest that either using dish soap or vinegar to clean your wipers and window might help. If you have a build up of grease, oil or wax these should break it down. Repeat the cleaning until the cloth stays clear rather than picking up dark marks. If you still have issues with sound or visibility after that it might be time for replacement blades. – TafT – 2015-05-14T13:43:00.977

7

There are aftermarket products, like Rain-X, that you apply to the windshield which are meant to improve visibility, but also have a great side effect - they eliminate squeaking wiper blades. This is not their intended or designed use, but they should solve the problem you are having in two ways:

  • by making the water bead up, you won't have to run the wipers at all in light rain
  • by coating the windshield with, essentially, a wax the wipers will glide across it without squeaking regardless of the wiper's condition

You will have to re-apply them according to your level of usage and their instructions occasionally, but they are easy and quick to apply, and cost less than new wipers.

Beyond that, you're looking at typical solutions - replacing the wipers, cleaning your windshield more thoroughly, using the washer fluid to add liquid to reduce squeaking, changing to a different washer fluid that suits your wipers better, and conditioning your wipers (the rubber breaks down in sunlight over time, leading to harder windshield wipers that are more likely to create noise).

Adam Davis

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 1 149

6

Squeaky wipers (also an annoyance for me) result from:

  1. Dry surface
  2. Dry wiper blades
  3. Wiper motor issues

So for each one of the above, try these:

  1. A simple trick (if the problem is not #3), is to use the sprinkler to moisten the windscreen before turning on the wipers (yes, even in rain). This way the glass is completely wet before the cycle starts.

  2. Replace the blades with performance aftermarket blades (like the ones from rain-x) these tend to last longer, are quieter as well.

  3. Unfortunately here you'd have to replace the motor head or simply have it serviced as dust/dirt/leaves can gum up the mechanism, leading to squeaks simply from running the motor.

Burhan Khalid

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 169

4

For squeaking, you can generally get away with cleaning the wiper blade itself:

Gently wipe the rubber squeegee with a damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt or oil. Source

Keeping your windshield as clean as possible will help as well. However, you will eventually need to buy new wiper blades.

Mooseman

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 8 697

Actually, you don't have to be that gentle. Basically, you have to clean the blade rather aggressively, still without causing damage. Use a Kleenex wet with some windshield cleaning fluid and pinch the blade between your fingernails and clean it rather hard. Certainly not "wipe", you have to scrape off the dirt. Dirt gets stuck to the blade with quite some force, so a gentle cleaning might do nothing. But always go horizontally across the blade, tearing it perpendically would harm it, of course. Many blades that are thrown away as completely worn actually return to life with real cleaning. – Gábor – 2015-05-14T15:12:00.623

3@Mooseman I didn't realize that cleaning your wiper blades was an "outside the box" solution to a "seemingly intractable problem" (to quote the close reason). Sorry!! – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T16:45:04.247

4

@JasonC An answer doesn't necessarily have to be "outside the box". But the question should be looking for "outside the box" answers. From the manifesto: "If an answer isn't creative or clever enough for your liking, just don't up-vote it. [...] It may not be a lifehacky answer, but it is a solution to their problem."

– Mooseman – 2015-05-14T21:07:50.710

5Welcome to Lifehacks! Cleaning your wiper blades and buying new ones is not much of a hack. – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-13T18:47:51.747

3@JasonC Buying new ones? No. Cleaning them is a valid solution, even if considered 'obvious' to some. – Mooseman – 2015-05-13T19:20:56.907

3

There are electronics kits that allow you to build an adjustable interval timer. Wire that into the wiper controls.
I thought there were aftermarket parts specifically for this, but it looks like you'll have to adapt a general interval timer kit.

Hobbes

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 3 920

1@Hobbes, there are different ones. I've used one I bought from Conrad for a decade. It's a drop-in replacement for many cars on the market that use the so called Bosch wiper circuit. Not all of them but quite a lot. The relay has no extra controls, just the standard size relay. The interval adjustment is rather clever: it measures the time between your two manual single wipes and maintains it until further notice. So, basically, you swipe once, let it get wet again, swipe once more when necessary, and leave it on intermittent. Actually even smarter than the factory-fitted solution with a knob. – Gábor – 2015-05-14T15:04:40.720

How does changing the timing interval stop the blades from squeaking? – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T16:47:52.300

By not letting them run dry in moderate rain. – Gábor – 2015-05-14T17:26:37.063

1You don't need to replace the timing circuit completely. Just dig up the wiring diagrams / service manual for your car for details and make decisions based on that. For example, in my car the timing relay circuit interval is controlled by a simple variable resistor (the adjustable ring on the wiper controls) ranging from 0-36k Ohms. It is reasonable to conclude that wiring in some additional resistance there will allow for slower intervals; an easy job to do. Always read the service manual and look for ways to solve the problem. Hopefully RTFM isn't a "life hack" though! :) – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T18:40:21.570

@Gábor That wiper relay with the manual interval adjust sounds pretty cool. I'm kind of inspired to go grab one if it fits my car. Do you have a model #? – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T18:44:13.013

That should be it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLvl370BBUk or http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=337306 . Mine was a third-party one but the VW concern also used the same setup in many of their models. Should be an easy one from a junkyard. Basically, you have to check your own circuit diagram and if it uses the same pinout as visible on the pictures, you should be good to go.

– Gábor – 2015-05-17T15:22:31.217

This isn't really a hack. It's also unreliable because an interval that works now may not, say, next week. – Mooseman – 2015-05-13T11:25:02.460

@Mooseman: as it turns out, the only parts I could find were general-purpose timers which would have to be adapted to be used in a car, so I think that qualifies as a hack. – Hobbes – 2015-05-13T11:35:49.350

That's a good improvement. +1. – Mooseman – 2015-05-13T11:37:16.293

3

You can also wax your windshield, this normally stops squeaks. Replace your windshield wipers.

Theodosius Von Richthofen

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 181

3

You can try to calibrate the wiper spring tension. It's not uncommon for these springs to weaken in time, causing squeaking if the blade is allowed too much freedom to vibrate.

Cable ties can be used to pull together some turns of the spring, making it exert more force.

Atsby

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 131

1Do normal maintenance that windshield wipers are designed to receive = mundane how-to. Do it with cable ties = boom! Life hack! Brilliant... (btw, a more reliable solution is to go to the local dealer's parts department and pick up a new set of wipers or springs - if you get there by secretly stowing away in a passing vehicle instead of driving yourself you can call it a life hack). – Captain Obvious – 2015-05-14T16:46:47.483

3

This might sound bizarre, but in the past 8 years I've only replace wipers twice, I stick with the OEM ones and when they start to squeek I remove and wash with a sponge, and warm soapy water then put them back on the car. I also regularly fully clean the windscreen with car glass cleaner.

user1049286

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 131

2

To add to the good answers to the question: You can extend the lifetime of the wipers' rubber by wiping it down with that "magical restorer" stuff you can buy in any auto-parts store. ArmorAll is one trade name. And the stuff you use to restore rubber rollers (like on printers) would also work. Do a search for "rubber restorer." Anyway, whenever you wash your car, wipe down the rubber of the wipers with that stuff. You should be using something like that regularly anyway, on the sidewalls of your tires (to prevent dry rot), and on your dashboard plastic and interior vinyl (to prevent cracking). So you should make sure you have some on hand if you don't already. After you have it, this is a lifehack. ;-)

If the rubber is already dried out and cracking, then: new wiper blades. No lifehack restores "dead" rubber, AFAIK.

dmm

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 31

2Welcome to Lifehacks! The main site is for posts on Lifehacks, while the Meta is for discussions on the site itself. If you have a complaint about someone's posts flag them or/and discuss it Meta. I hope this helps you, have a nice day! – Pobrecita – 2015-05-14T20:05:21.313

2I removed content not pertinent to the post. We do not promote such content here. Good luck :) – Pobrecita – 2015-05-14T20:10:19.833

It's a shame this answer's all the way down here. It's the best 'hack' to extend the life of your blades. – Mazura – 2015-07-24T08:05:15.597

0

Occasionally power washing the car. Road grime will make your wipers squeak as well as embedding gunk on the wipers themselves. Clean the wipers with vinegar or rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. You will notice will squeak if it hasn't rained for a while.

resident_heretic

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 239

0

I had purchased a car which had squeaking problem,changed the blades varied touching angle,all did not work till someone said it is due to long parking under sun heat which reduced the glazing of the windshield glass.Once I changed the glass the sound gone,it could be a reason for some cars.

massoud nm

Posted 2015-05-13T05:33:14.833

Reputation: 1

3Changing your windscreen doesn't sound like much of a hack. It sounds too expensive to qualify. – Chenmunka – 2017-05-17T07:56:17.760