The majority of drivers probably don’t give much thought to windshield wipers and washer systems. However, if you get caught in a rainstorm, a snowstorm, get splashed with mud or slush, or run into a swarm of bugs, your windshield wipers and washer system will be the first thought you have.

The first windshield wipers were invented in 1903, but they’ve come a long way since then. By 1916, wipers had become standard equipment on most vehicle makes. In 1917, the first windshield wiper powered by an electric motor became available. During the mid-thirties, the first windshield washer system, the system that sprays window washer fluid at your windshield, was introduced. By the late-forties, the first combination windshield wiper and washer systems were being used. These important inventions provided additional vehicle safety and made it possible to drive during inclement weather.

Today, modern windshield wiper and washer systems have many advanced features and options. Modern systems are designed to be easy to use, extremely effective, and help maintain clear vision while driving.

Many of us have experienced turning on our wipers only to discover that part of the rubber portion of the blade is peeling away or missing, followed by a horrible screeching sound as the damaged parts drag across the windshield. That sound means you may be permanently scratching your windshield. Regular maintenance and inspection of your wiper blades is essential to the life of your windshield, and most importantly to ensuring your safety on the road. Wiper blades can easily be cleaned by running a wet towel along the edge of the rubber blade. This will remove dust, dirt, debris, and grime that can build up over time, allowing your wipers to work more efficiently and last longer. While cleaning your wipers, inspect your blades for areas that look hardened, worn, torn, or cracked.

Next, inspect the operation of your windshield washer system. Check the washer fluid level and add fluid if needed. It is important to maintain the appropriate mixture of antifreeze and washer fluid suitable for the climate you live in. Do not use plain water in your washer system. It may freeze in cold weather, or develop bacteria over the course of a hot summer. Inspect the washer system spray nozzles to make sure they spray evenly across the windshield glass and provide coverage over the entire area that is being cleaned by the wiper blades.

Visibility is an essential component of safe driving. Make sure you’re prepared when a rainstorm or snowstorm occurs. Inspect your wiper blades now, and on a regular basis. Replace them when necessary. Inspect the operation of your washer system. Add washer fluid when needed, and be sure to maintain the proper mixture. Maintaining your wipers and washer system is an easy and affordable way to ensure the safety of you and your family while traveling in your vehicle.