Winter is just around the corner and this means snowfall and ice for many, but in warmer climates winter tends to bring more rainfall. This is an ideal time to check your windshield wipers and headlights to make sure that you will have the best visibility when driving in inclement weather.
The general rule of thumb is to replace windshield wipers about once a year, but you should still inspect them regularly for damage and wear. If the rubber blades do not sit properly on the glass of the windshield, the wipers will be unable to effectively remove the water from the glass. If you notice that the wipers are not doing a superb job of clearing the windshield of rainwater while you are driving, but the rubber wiper blades are in good condition, you may need to inspect them further for other issues.
Pull the wipers out from the car until they lock in place, and then check the nut and bolt for looseness. If they are loose, you can tighten them up with a wrench or a pair of pliers. You should also wipe down the return spring, hinge pin and wiper arm to remove and dirt and debris that could hinder the wipers' ability to function properly. Blades that appear to be in good condition but still leave streaks can be cleaned with glass cleaner and a soft cloth.
If the wipers do not move at all, then the issue could lay in the fuse box. Use the owner's manual to locate the proper fuse and pop it out to inspect it. If the fuse is broken or damaged, you can replace it. However, if this does not get things moving, the issue could lie in the wiper motor or the wires, which may mean the motor needs to be replaced.
Another thing to consider to improve visibility before the weather turns is the vehicle's headlights. If the lenses are clouded and dirty, this can reduce the brightness of lights, and they should be cleaned to allow more light to pass through to illuminate the roadway. Since the sun is setting earlier every day and the sky is getting darker sooner, it is especially important to make sure that your vehicle's headlights are up to snuff. You can consider changing the bulbs as they do tend to dim when they wear out.
Drivers who live in colder climates and are expecting snowfall this year should keep in mind that using wipers to try to scrape off accumulated ice and snow can damage them. The blades are not designed to remove solid objects. Instead, drivers should invest in ice scrapers and when the ice is really stubborn, using the defroster can help to melt it from the inside, which will make it easier to scrape it off.
If you notice that the defroster is not working as well as it used to to clear the morning fog from the windshield, you may want to check the cabin air filter. If it is clogged, it can negatively affect the airflow and temperatures. These air filters, like all filters in a vehicle, need to be changed periodically. If you have not done so in a while, this can be a good opportunity to do so, and it will also ensure that you will be able to warm the car up on crisp winter mornings.