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Should You Leave Your Windshield Wipers Up in the Snow?

windshield wipers in snow

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 or snow cover 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.

Learn about AAA’s automotive services.

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

  1. Leaving the wiper arms up all the time can cause the spring to stretch which will cause streaking on the windshield imo
    Seen it happen over the 30 years spent working in a dealership

  2. I learned my lesson over 50 years ago when i left the wipers down on my 1965 Mustang after coming home the night before during a small snow storm. I left the next morning and was driving down the road when I noticed smoke coming from under the dash…I had fried the wiper motors as I had forgotten to shutoff the wipers from the night before and they had frozen to the windshield. I guess there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

  3. The best approach depends on the type of storm expected.

    But putting bricks on a windshield seems like a very very foolish idea in any condition, because in some conditions the blanket and brick might move and cause damage to the body. Plus, who wants to carry bricks around.

    I’ve left my wipers down for decades. Doing so is not the end of the world. Just be careful if you need to scrape near them so you do not tear the rubber part.

  4. I worry about high winds from the typical Nor’Easter we get here in NYC. So, I leave the wipers down. I don’t want to chance the wiper arms being bent by a 50 MPH wind gust.

    1. All well and good unless you are a renter and don’t have access to a garage. So I put a tarp over my windshield and that is very helpful.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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