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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 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.”

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.

  • 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.

  • William M.

    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.

  • Robert C.

    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 ????

  • Frederick C.

    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.

  • Thomas S.

    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.

  • Robert R.

    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.

  • Jeffrey W.

    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.

  • Terence S.

    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.

  • Margaret O.

    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.

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • Michele V.

    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

  • Walter W.

    With an ice storm, I use the windshield spray-on deicer. Works wonders! I hear we are not supposed to run the engine long before we drive off.

  • Pamela J.

    I favor letting the defroster do its job. You can use the wait time to clear the snow and ice from the roof of your vehicle, which is a real hazard to others on the road.

  • William C.

    I use a windshield cover, it takes a few minutes to put on and off and the windshield is always clear and you don’t have to touch the wipers and rolls up for easy storage in the car

  • Josephine C.

    I leave them down…if it’s windy I think that can’t be good for the hinges. If the car is covered in snow, start the car, defrost and by the time I get back to the windshield it’s easier to lift the wipers and scrape

  • I put the car in its house – the garage. When my car cannot be put into shelter, my wipers stay down. As we’re suppose to clear the car of all snow, I clear to get into my car to turn on the heat. By the time I get to clearing the windshield, it will be melted enough to clear the wipers. Though I do like the idea of covering the front.

  • Too much thinking and running out to put them up, never had an issue otherwise. Unless you are forgetful and leave the wipers on when you stop the car and they are stuck and try to start i have seen the rubber get ripped off I see no need to lift them off. And covering with a blanker is too much work and aggravation. If it is a bad storm warm the car up and push the mess off.

  • If it’s snowing when I get to where I’m going and I know the car will be parked there for a while. I turn the heat off about 2 miles before I park. Then I keep the doors open to let the inside cool down, shut them and walk away. If I don’t the falling snow melts then refreezes turning the windshield into an ice sheet.
    When I return to the car I start the car defroster on high heat. I start cleaning the car from the rear INCLUDING the roof. By the time I get to the windshield it’s warmed up enough to clear it. Leave the wipers down.

  • If I know ice is coming or if I have been driving in snow melting on the windshield from the defroster, I spray the windshield and wiper blades with de-icer when I park the car. I find clearing the windshield and wipers on restarting the car, in combination with the defroster on high, works well for me.

  • I leave them down cause I have a shield guard that I purchased from QVC years ago. When we have a real big storm coming I put a folded tarp over the front half of car (roof to vents) with bungee cords

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