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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? What should you do?

windshield wipers

(Photo: FooTToo / iStock / Thinkstock)

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.

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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.

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,” he said.

Sinclair offers some alternate methods for preventing wipers from freezing to the windshield.

“It should clear up if you leave your defroster on for about 40 minutes,” he said. “Or, you can put a blanket over the windshield and weigh it down with some bricks prior to a storm. The next morning, pull off the blanket and the windshield is clear.”

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.

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  • Robert K.

    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.

  • Jennifer B.

    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.

  • 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.

  • R Adam F.

    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.

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