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The Great Wiper Debate: Up or Down?

Now that the snow and ice has arrived, it's not uncommon see parked cars with their wiper blades propped up. Smart preparation or does it do damage?

Now that the snow and ice has arrived pretty much everywhere, it’s not uncommon see parked cars with their windshield wipers propped up off the windshield in anticipation of precipitation (hey, that sounds good!), namely ice. In fact, it’s becoming a trend. Is it a smart way to prepare, or does it do damage?

Here are the two schools of thought:

Propping Wipers Up:

  • Prevents damage to the wiper motor, should you turn on the ignition and have accidentally left the wipers on (and they’re frozen to the windshield).
  • Prevents damaging the rubber, when you have to chisel them away from the windshield.
  • Makes clearing away snow and ice from the windshield easier.

Leaving Wipers Down:

  • Prevents damaging the springs inside the blade arm.
  • Discourages vandalism.
  • A non-issue because the defroster releases frozen blades.

So Which Is Correct?

Several wiper manufacturers recommend lifting the wiper blades up before things get icy, to protect the rubber blade, and the American Automobile Association (AAA) claims that leaving wipers up does not weaken the springs.  If you choose to leave them down, it’s important to give your car enough time to warm up; the defroster will release frozen blades from the windshield.

You Weighed In

We posed this question on Facebook back on January 15, 2018 and asked fans to weigh in on the subject. Here’s how you voted:


Voting results:

Up: 425 votes
Down: 197 votes
Don’t Have Snow: 191 votes

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Interested in becoming a guest author? Contact us to let us know!

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Brad Williams

Mine are up right now. I got up one morning and everything was frozen. I use a windshield washer that has an deicing agent in it, so I hit the washer without thinking. The blades were froze solid and tried to engage. oops.

Dennis Smith

I leave mine up because relying on the defroster to melt the ice around them doesn’t always work. It frustrating trying to get the wipers loose, and sometimes the rubber gets damaged.

Beverly

Well what I do put pipe insulation tubes on them. You get 40 mile winds that could possibly break the blades if you keep them up. If winds can break a large limb on my tree it could break the wiper blades.

Susan Higgins

That’s a great tip, Beverly!

Tim Marrier

Just burn that gas, I mean it’s not like we’ll be the ones cussing our idiot grandparents who squandered it all because a couple $1.50 springs might wear out in 17 years, assuming it’s even noticed at all. Forget punishing vandals properly, too, just assume everyone’s out to get you all the time and just burn, baby, burn it all, I mean we can always make more, right? Duh!

Steve Hamilton

Down

roboturkey

This seems to be a more recent behavioral quirk. I have been driving in winter in snow country of various locations for 50 years. NEVER had a problem with letting the defroster work a while, then gently freeing the blades while I scrape slush off the windshield. The kiddies do not need another target for vandalism and if the the roving vandals do make pretzels out of your wipers you are well and truly screwed if you need them. Seems like a psychological artifact of sexually insecure men to put the wipers in an “up” position.

Last edited 7 months ago by roboturkey
James

I have automatic wipers. If I start by truck and the wipers engage while frozen down, I damage my wiper motor. A new wiper is insignificant to accidental wiper motor damage.

HCKev

Leave them down. Otherwise ice will form on the wipers blades and won’t wipe the windshield well, unless you scrape the ice from the blades, which defeats the argument about protecting the rubber blade. While when they’re down, ice will just stay on the windshield, just lift the wipers and do a quick scrape underneath on the windshield and you’re done. I also noticed that lifting the wipers results in the blades not matching the windshield curve anymore over time, so you end up with part of the wiper that doesn’t wipe properly. Overall I found my wipers actually last longer when I don’t lift them.

Tim Marrier

Wow, you must be the only one then, what rotten luck, eh? Devil ice and all, damn what’s next? Lol.

michael alan lessner

up

Patricia Ann Carrasco

I live in south TX get maybe a day or two of snow it’s silly and kids are attacked to this up wipers I believe they’ll put on them. Besides if you have defrost just takes a few minutes.

John Walker

When the snow is that severe I go back in and make Irish Coffee and wait until it melts naturally. It’s a very European thing to do.

Susan Higgins

John Walker: sounds like a much more enjoyable time!

Joanna Morgan

Live in Houston, when snow and/or ice is predicted, put a bedsheet across the windshield and secure ends in the door frames. Open the door, pull off the sheet and go on to work.
In the Far East, they leave the wiper blades up to keep the rubber from melting to the windshield.

Karen

If I remember I put them up. I usually forget and they are down.

Missy

I leave mine up. It’s a very European thing to do.

VLA

I never leave them up. I would be afraid that a good strong wind will mess with them and ruin the arm. It is also a great target for vandals. I have never had an issue with defrosting the car and the blades and I live in the northeast where we get a lot of ice and snow.

Kathy

I laugh my backside off at neighbors who leave wipers up. I grew up in NJ and moved to PA 28 yrs ago. I have magnetic covers for front & rear windows. But with so many vehicles with auto start and modern defrosters, I just do not get leaving tm up. I also read if it is really cold and they blow down they could crack your windshield. So never saw wipers up until I moved to PA. Mine for all the years I have been driving…they are down for snow.

R.Miller

I live in northern Idaho and we have snow 6 months of the year. I sometimes see someone with the wiper blades up on their car and quickly notice their license plate is from California. Everyone here leaves them down and we always make sure the wiper motor is in the off position before you start your vehicle.

nancy

Here in CT, I always leave them up when snow is forecast. Can someone tell me how to prevent snow and thick ice building up in the large space between the hood and the windshield? The only way I can see would be to put a cover over the whole car, and that’s not going to happen.

Bob

My new girlfriend says her ex never raised them. He had a garage. Guess that’s why he’s her ex and soon to be my ex.

LD

We can send a Tesla with a dummy in it to the moon but we can’t invent heated wiper blades……..

Frannie

I always have one cut open heavy duty plastic trash bag that covers entire windshield. When snowing, just have to pull bag off (put left & right ends into the door & close both doors it holds plastic down securely even in wind). It’s not that people would steal your wiper blades while they’re up, but young vandals love to twist the entire arm right off when in up position.

Keith

They can easily twist the arm off in the down position by lifting them up. If they want to, they’re going to.

Ginger

I read another way–put plastic bags around your wipers. When you lift the bags, you also peel off some of the ice from the window! Here in New England, winter storms also bring strong winds and windshield wipers can blow down if you leave them up.

Rose C

I live in NW Colorado and have to leave my car outside in the weather. After having to buy new front blades every year, due to them freezing down, in the amount of $28 to $30.00 More for the back window, can only get it from dealer, I leave my front wiper blades up.Saves the rubber from ripping and my pocket book.

Matty

Up. Why would car makers design them to go in an upright position if you weren’t supposed to raise them for snow? What else would you raise them for? As far as theft, who steals wiperblades? That doesn’t happen and if it did people would just steal them when they weren’t buried in snow.

Dickfart

Its so you can replace them fucko

roboturkey

well now. Let’s use our wits. Every now and then you need to replace the rubber wiper blades, or work on/replace the windshield or weather-tight border and the wipers need to be out of the way. the ability to lock the wipers in an upright position is not a design feature caused by weather concerns. Leave them down

Harriett

Where I live in South Carolina we mainly see rain and have a lot of heat

Tony

I have a cabin in the cascade mountains of Washington. In winter snowmobile season we park at our community lodge/parking lot.
Wipers are always up in the cold season. It’s easier to clear snow that builds up during the weekend. Also the blade isn’t loaded to the windshield in sub freezing conditions. The blade will develop a curl while loaded and then freeze and become less effective when needed.

Penny

I live in New Brunswick Canada and here we are “snow specialists” LOL I leave my blades DOWN! I have had many wiper blade arms ruined by leaving them up and really using the scraper for ice does not ruin the rubber on the blades! With snow…I pull the blades up long enough to clear the snow so they’re not up long enough to ruin the spring.

Tracy

I put tub socks on my wipers no ice it looks crazy but it works. And I leave them down

H e

Vw and Audi no longer allow you to lift the blades up as they won’t clear the hood this is to prevent people from doing that as it weakens the springs that press the wipes down enough to clean properly as overtime they start lifting up and not cleaning specially in highway speeds due to poor spring pressure vs wind force

Mark V

You can do it by putting them in blade change position. Turn off ignition and hit the wiper control switch (I discovered this accidentally. You can also get to this the long way through the cars maintenance menu.) Even with blades down, I don’t want them deep in the slot between hood and windshield.

James Lindley

Our vehicles aren’t made so you can raise the wipers all the way. I learned to drive in northern Indiana and southern Michigan where we got plenty of ice and snow. This was around 1970. I’ve always just used the ice scraper to release the blades if they were frozen to the windshield. I’ve never had it mess them up.

susan Wood

I leave mine up- ostensibly because I don’t want them to be encased in ice under the snow (I ruined a set that way when I first moved to New Jersey) but mainly and truthfully because I think they look like adorable feelers on a white bug when it snows… 😉

Patrice

I live in Eastern North Carolina and prefer to leave mine up the few times a year we get ice and or snow

Jackie Harter

I live in SE MI, and leave mine up both at home and at work. Private parking in both areas so no worries about theft. Much easier to clear the windshield and they stay in better shape longer.

Axenolith

I put an old bedsheet over my car in the evening if heavy frost or snow was coming when I lived in N. VA. Come morning I’d just pull it and anything that precipitated onto it off and be on my way…

Angelia smith

I live in Walton County and I was really wondering if the Atlanta area should get snow this year

Travis

The way my wipers sit when the ignition is turned off sets them under the rear of my hood so I am unable to put them up. So down for me. I just make sure all snow and ice is removed best I can, then take the time to allow the defroster to do it’s job before I roll.

Joan

Used to always put them up until one day, once the car was defrosted and we put them down, they were now bent in such an arc, they didn’t touch the glass completely. They eventually thawed out I guess, but they were useless for most of the day. Definitely leaving them down from now on.

Jessica

I’ve had the same experience after leaving them up. Nice that they were free of ice & snow but pretty worthless since they no longer pressed flat against the windshield. So I always leave them down now.

Lynne

If I can’t take the time to “dig out” my windshield wipers what else am I not taking the time for…. down works for me

Greg

I grew up in Boulder Colo and have witnessed many of a snow storm. It’s a good argument to have but i would leave them down, wouldn’t want to have them stolen right when I REALLY need them. The defroster is the best way, but remember one thing. If you have rock impacts (spider cracks) or another small crack in the windshield it will spread across the entire surface if you turn on the defroster in hopes of cleaning/melting the snow instead of brushing it off first. Now you gotta buy another windshield. Been there done that…

Tony

Always up. Easier cleaning/defrosting the windshield. Blades don’t get frozen to glass.

Debby Thompson

I live in New Mexico and I try to remember to leave them up when were expecting ice or snow.

frank kay

I live in the Mitten, so I put my blades / wipers in the garage. (snickering)

Amanda

I’m in Pa and our winters can be harsh. ( Expecting our first snow tomorrow ) and we always put ours up. For me it’s easier to clean and it’s something my husband has always done . Don’t really know why he does I just picked up his habit lol. I guess it’s a good one

Barbara

Living in central Texas we don’t have this problem much either, interested to know. I would guess wipers up 🙂

m burnett

I live in the Bay Area, CA so we don’t have this problem (we are just now getting decent amounts of rain!) However, this is an interesting issue I had not thought of before.
Look forward to what others think. Thx!

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