Should You Leave Your Windshield Wipers Up in the Snow?

What do you do with your windshield wipers when you hear that snow is on the way? Do you leave them up or flat against the windshield?
windshield wipers

Your favorite meteorologist is calling for a wintry mix. The storm will develop while you’re at work, leading to a miserable evening commute. As you pull into the office parking lot, you notice that a healthy handful of your co-workers have popped up their windshield wipers.

That’s when your dilemma begins.

Do you follow suit? If you leave your wipers up, at least you know that you won’t leave work to find them stuck to the windshield. But some argue that you’ll still have to chip away ice from the wipers.

Our resident automotive expert, AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul, doesn’t do it on his own car.

“Putting the wipers up and away from the windshield makes it easier to clean the windshield if it snows,” he said. “It also eliminates the chance that the wipers will freeze to the windshield.”

But it also means you’re putting stress on the spring that holds the wiper arms against the windshield, he cautions.

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On the other hand, Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations at AAA Northeast, believes leaving windshield wipers up is a safe option.

“I don’t see any harm in it, though you still have to clean the snow off the glass,” said Sinclair.

In case your wipers are accidently left on, leaving them up also eliminates the chance of burning out the windshield wiper motor when you start your car and the blades try to push their way through the heavy snow.

Sinclair offers an alternate method for preventing wipers from freezing to the windshield.

“You can put a blanket over the windshield and weigh it down with some bricks prior to a storm,” he said. “The next morning, pull off the blanket and the windshield is clear.”

Whether you choose to put your windshield wipers up or leave them down, you need to make sure they are working properly before you head out on the road.

  • Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe.
  • Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots.
  • Consider installing all-weather wiper blades that have a one-piece plastic beam frame or winter blades that wrap the metal frame in a rubber boot. Both designs help prevent snow and ice buildup that can interfere with blade-to-glass contact.
  • Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components. Some window washer solution is rated to just 20 degrees, but in cold weather this solution can freeze and damage the washer system. Look for washer fluid that protects well below freezing temperatures.

What do you do with your windshield wipers when you hear that snow is on the way? Do you leave them sticking up or flat against the windshield? Tell us in the comments.

No matter what you do with your windshield wipers, AAA members can save on automotive replacement parts and accessories at NAPA.

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67 Thoughts on “Should You Leave Your Windshield Wipers Up in the Snow?

  1. I never leave my wiper blades up, I have two auto mechanics in my home whom yell at me for leaving them up. Just cover the windshield with a tarp or heat the car up prior

  2. I use Frost Guard. It covers the windshield, the wipers and the well. Attaches to the side mirrors and side flaps go inside the doors. No bricks needed.

    1. I have Frost Guard also. Plus, I have the covers for my side mirrors. It covers the entire windshield and the wipers, down onto the upper hood. It is really a lifesaver!

    2. This is for sale by different names. The only drawback I have found is that the elastic bands holding it down tend to stretch. Makes cleaning the windshield much easier and snow removal simpler.

  3. Is there a typo in the last paragraph? You can’t be seriously recommending running the defroster for 40 minutes to unfreeze your wiper blades from the windshield.

  4. Running the defrosters for 40 minutes is not a good idea when the tempeture is lower than 30 degrees. Doing this puts massive heat on a frozen surface . this causes expansion and can cause the windshield to crack. I speak fom personal experience as this happened to not only me but also to my brother and my daughter. I run the heater on a lower heat for about 30 minutes this releases the ice without damaging the windshield.

  5. I slide foam sleeves I repurposed over the wiper blades and keep the wipers down to avoid stress or damage. When you clean the windshield just slide the sleeves off and you’re good to go.

  6. I get up 30 minutes earlier and let the car run with the heat on high and defrost on. By the time I get in the car it’s nice and warm and the snow wipes off easily.

  7. My Audi A-4 and several other cars I have had do not allow for the windshield wipers to be left up. That is a special setting used only when changing the wiper blades.
    Also I worry about blowing snow and high winds damaging the upright windshield wipers. The engineers did not design them to be left in that position for long. Therefore, I keep them down and I take my time starting the car, turning on the defroster and then clearing the snow from the car.

    1. In my Audi, if you push the wiper control stalk down with ignition OFF, they will go into service position. I agree that leaving them off the windshield seems precarious when it’s windy, but at least they aren’t trapped in slot behind hood.

  8. Guess it depends on the usual amount of snow per winter. In New York, we get maybe two or three storms, so leaving the wipers up isn’t damaging the springs that much. Northern climates are different.

  9. 40 extra mins. of burning fuel doesn’t help global warming, leave ’em up , grab your battery operated leaf blower & in 5 mins. U can clean off the WHOLE vehicle , preventing snow fly & a possible accident or traffic citation for creating a hazardous condition ????

  10. Interestingly, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback (and maybe other Hyundai models) has a hood set so far back you can’t lift the wipers into a vertical position, so that’s their way of saying keep them down for some reason. Given that fact, I’m putting plastic bags from the grocery story over the wipers. Ice doesn’t adhere to that type of flexible plastic.

      1. Also keep a spray bottle filled with alcohol and spritz down all the windows prior, no crust snow or ice to chip away at later.

    1. My 2015 Jetta has a hood so far up that you have to position the wiper correctly by shutting off the car mid swipe in order to get the wipers to stand up.

  11. Leave your defroster on for 40 minutes? What kind of cockamamie statement is that? Burning gas for 40 minutes of non-driving = ZERO miles per gallon. Elbow grease is free.

  12. My car has a defroster setting in the HVAC. It is really nifty for clearing condensation from the inside of the windshield and also getting rid of the ice that may build up on the outside in a freezing rain storm. I think most cars have this feature. 😉 It’s what we used in Canada when I was growing up, if we didn’t cover the windshield with a piece of vinyl to keep the ice off it. Chipping at ice on glass can have unintended consequences, like shattering the glass. Especially as the temperatures drop the exterior layer of safety glass laminate becomes more prone to shatter from sharp blows such as that from an impatient owner chipping at ice. Warming the windshield to melt the ice away obviates the problem. It just takes a little longer, but no one should be hurrying in those weather conditions anyway.

  13. I don’t bother with putting the wipers up. I just leave the defroster in the on position and the fan on high,then 10-15 minutes before I leave home or work ,I hit the auto start and the truck is warm and the windows are mostly clear.

  14. John Paul is correct. Leave them down. It not only damages the springs to the wiper arms it damages the blade’s effectiveness as well as the rubber tips wear prematurely.

  15. If it’s just snow I don’t do anything. If there’s freezing rain I put them up. For a big storm, I cover the windshield and wipers wither a large plastic dropcloth closed in both car doors. After the storm I clear the snow off the driver side door, open it and then pull the plastic across, removing the snow from the windshield.

  16. I put them up. It’s easier to clean the windscreen afterward and I don’t accidentally hit the wipers while I’m doing the windscreen.

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