Why Are My Windshield Wipers Squeaky?

When your windshield wipers squeak, you need to determine the source of the noise. Here are four of the most common causes—and how to fix them.

Windshield wipers are vital pieces of safety equipment. But like many vehicle parts, we often forget they’re there until they stop working properly.

If you’ve ever experienced the ear-splitting, high-pitched squeaking noise wipers sometimes make when they drag across your windshield, you know how annoying it can be. Luckily, the solutions are usually simple. Learn the four most common causes of squeaky windshield wipers so you’ll know what to do next time yours start making a ruckus.

Dirty Glass

Believe it or not, dirty glass is by far the most common cause of squeaky windshield wipers. Small particles of dirt, sand or road salt sprinkled across the glass can cause friction when the wipers pass over, leading to the unwanted squeaking.

Give your windshield a thorough wash and rinse, then try the wipers again. Chances are the noise will be at least greatly diminished. (These pro car washing tips will come in handy.)

Dirty Blades

While dirt and debris often build up on the windshield, wiper blades can collect it, too. If you’ve cleaned your windshield and the squeaking is still happening, lift your wipers and examine the rubber squeegees closely. If you notice a buildup of dirt, wash them thoroughly. Use a toothbrush to remove dirt from all the nooks and crannies along the blade.

Even if you don’t see any dirt on the blades, the rubber squeegees may still be coated with protective oil from the factory, especially if your wipers are new. Like dirt and debris, this oil can cause squeaking. Remove it by cleaning your wipers carefully with rubbing alcohol. (Here are more genius uses for rubbing alcohol.)

Failing Wipers

If your wiper blades and windshield are perfectly clean but squeaking persists, there may be a structural issue with the wipers.

Check the rubber squeegees first. Over time, they become hard and brittle, losing their ability to flex as they move across the windshield. Brittle wiper squeegees won’t wipe well and will almost certainly squeak. Buy and install new squeegees and the squeaking will probably disappear. (Here’s how to replace wiper blades, step by step.)

If the squeegees are in good shape, the wiper mechanism itself may be failing and need mechanical work.

Dry Wiping

Even if nothing’s wrong with your wipers, they’ll probably squeak if you use them on a dry windshield.

If your wipers are in good shape and you notice squeaking, take a second to evaluate the weather conditions. Is there just a light sprinkling of rain on your windshield? If so, there’s probably insufficient moisture to lubricate your wipers as they move. Squirt some washer fluid onto your windshield and chances are the squeaking problem will be solved.

Next, check out nine more strange car sounds—and what they could mean.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman