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Signs Of Wiper Blade Wear

Worn wiper blades can limit driving visibility, which is potentially unsafe. Experts recommend that you check your blades at least once every six months and replace them if they are worn. But what are you looking for?

Quote Extended exposure to temperature extremes, UV, ozone, road salt, oil, automatic car washes, and of course regular use can all contribute to wiper blade wear Quote

-Robert Peers, VP of Engineering & Quality
MICHELIN® Wiper Blades.

To help you recognize the signs of blade wear, here is a list of the five major signs of wiper blade wear. These include streaking, chattering, smearing, split rubber and squeaking.

Signs Of Wiper Blade Wear


Visual inspection of the wiper blade reveals rubber that has hardened and/or cracked due to exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, tree sap, and road tar, automotive chemicals like oil, brake fluid, coolant, and road grit. Bands of water remain after each wiping stroke.


Extreme hot or cold temperatures or extended periods of non-use can cause blades to exhibit chatter, as the blades skip and vibrate over the windshield. The characteristics to look for include a choppy wiping action or an overall performance set or curve to the blade rubber in one direction and a smeared windshield appearance while wiping.

Smearing from Worn Rubber

When the wiping edge of the blade is no longer sharp, but rounded in shape or appearance, the wiper will smear the water across the windshield instead of clearing it off. This causes cloudy and impaired visibility.

Split Rubber

Age or physical damage to blades can result in unwiped areas. A visual inspection of the blade can help determine if there is physical damage.


The old or worn rubber of the blade does not move quietly across the windshield.

Bent Wiper Arm

Automatic car washes and the wear and tear that results from aggressive removal of snow and ice build up can cause considerable damage to the wiper arm assembly and blade and negatively impact its performance as the blade loses contact with the windshield.

To help you see clearly on the road, MICHELIN® Stealth® Ultra and new, improved Stealth® hybrid technology wiper blades feature Smart Flex technology that allows the blade to adapt to your windshield's shape and maintain superior contact across the entire blade.

Q. When should I change my wiper blades?
A. Experts say every six to twelve months - but it is dependent on enviromental conditions and use.
Q. How can I tell if my wiper blades need replacement?
A. Look and listen for signs of wear: Look for rounded or ragged blade edges, and streaking and smearing on the windshield. Listen for chattering from hardened rubber blades that won't flip over on each stroke.
Q. Why do my wipers keep making that awful squealing noise?
A. If it doesn't stop after a few strokes, your wiper blades may have hardened from sun and age and/or are worn out and probably need to be replaced.
Q. Why do my wipers leave streaks across the windshield?
A. If the streaks and missed spots don't go away after you run the windshield washer for a few strokes, your wiper blades may have hardened from sun and age and/or are worn out and probably need to be replaced.
Q. Are there differences in wiper blades?
A. Yes - blades with premium features and performance, such as those from Michelin, last longer and have better contact with the windshield for more smooth and consistent wipes. MICHELIN Beam and Hybrid blades are available to upgrade the wipers on your vehicles - whether it is old or new.
Q. Can I install my own wiper blades?
A. Yes - it's easy to refer to the helpful installation diagrams included on all MICHELIN wiper blade packages. If you need additional assistance, call 800-505-3274.
Q. I've seen MICHELIN wiper blades in stores for a couple of years now. Are all their blades new and improved? If so, what are the major differences in the second generation blades?
A. The latest MICHELIN wiper blades on the market are all new and improved. Some of the features include new patented technology for better windshield contact, protective covers, and converting all conventional blades to riveted construction for added strength. Other enhancements include improving the performance of the rubber compounds, additional or improved rubber coatings for quiet operation, and improved connectors for easier installation and better performance for the life of the product.
Q. How many different wiper blade models does Michelin offer?
A. In addition to the new advanced, frameless and hybrid all-weather blades, Michelin offers a full line of standard wiper blades.
Q. My vehicle isn't currently equipped with a Hybrid blade. Can I switch?
A. MICHELIN Hybrid all-weather wiper blades fit over 95 percent of the passenger cars and trucks currently on the road in North America.
Q. How many different sizes of the MICHELIN Hybrid all-weather blade are available?
A. MICHELIN Hybrid all-weather wiper blades are currently available in sizes ranging from 16-28 inches with universal connectors to fit more than 95 percent of the passenger cars and trucks currently on the road in North America.
Q. Are more auto companies using the frameless blade design? Will it eventually make traditional frame blades obsolete for motorists?
A. No. Vehicle manufacturers are moving away from frameless blade designs because they recognize the benefits of Hybrid wiper blades, and each year they are showing up on an increasing number of passenger cars and light trucks as standard equipment. Whether it will make traditional frame designs obsolete will ultimately be determined by the marketplace.
Q. I've never installed a wiper blade before, is it difficult? Where can I go if I have questions?
A. Michelin's patented EZ-LOK® Connector System makes wiper blade installation a snap, literally, along with step-by-step instructions available on the package. If you have any questions call the toll-free customer assistance line available at 800-505-3274.
Q. Does Michelin offer replacements for just the rubber portion of the blade? Why or Why not? If yes, it is available for both frameless and traditional blades?
A. Michelin does not offer replacements for the rubber portion of the wiper blades. Customers and retailers say the convenience and low cost of full blade replacement outweighs an incremental savings of replacing only the rubber insert.
Q. What are the warning signs that a blade is worn out? What climates and/or conditions tend to shorten blade life?
A. Rubber is the most important part of your wiper blades, and the sun's ultraviolet rays, automatic car washes and extended periods of non-use can all take their toll on wiper blade life. The most common warning signs that it's time for a replacement include dry, cracked or split rubber or damage to the wiper arm assembly (bent or broken metal), which can result in streaking, chatter or scratching of the windshield.
Q. Snow and ice buildup are obviously tough on wiper blades. What recommendations does Michelin have for removing them that helps avoid damage?
A. The first thing to observe when attempting to remove wipers in freezing conditions is to check if the blades are frozen to the windshield. Gently pull up on the wiper to see if it is frozen. Using force can cause the rubber to tear, resulting in permanent damage. If the wipers are covered with snow, run water or washer solvent over the wiper if possible to melt the snow, or gently brush aside the snow so that the wiper is visible. The water can also be used to free the rubber from the glass safely without tearing it or damaging the wiping edge. The windshield can also be warmed up with the defroster on the highest setting, which will melt the frozen wiper.
Q. I've never thought of wiper blades as being high-tech. What are some of the technology advancements in the last 3-5 years?

A. Some of the new wiper technologies developed in the last five years include improved rubber compounds, Hybrid wiper blades and more secure connection methods or arm types. Improved rubber compounds allow the rubber to remain flexible, function longer, have improved wear characteristics and resist UV and sunlight exposure better without compromising wipe performance. MICHELIN Hybrid wiper blades have the benefits of:

  • • Improved pressure distribution for better contact with the windshield.
  • • A lighter and lower profile for less vibration and lower wind resistance resulting in improved wipe performance and quieter operation.

The Original Equipment (OE) Hybrid-type wiper blades featured on many new passenger cars and trucks from the factory also use new connection methods for a more secure fit of the blade to the arm, resulting in less chatter and vibration and less chance of the blade detaching from the wiper arm.

Q. Why does the MICHELIN Hybrid all-weather blade have 180-degree rotation? What's the benefit?
A. Unlike other types of frameless wiper designs, MICHELIN all-weather Hybrid blades are engineered to be used in either direction of rotation. This gives the customer the option of rotating the blades periodically to avoid the common permanent set condition where the rubber takes a bend or "set" in one direction and can cause the blades to "chatter" and result in poor wipe performance. Other blades have to be replaced when this occurs. The rotation feature also allows those customers with pin-type arms to relocate the blades slightly up or down the windshield depending on personal preference. The benefit to the motorist is the ability to be able to use the blades for a longer period of time before they need to be replaced.
Q. Is wiper blade wear determined by the mounting position?
A. Wear is not determined by mounting position. Wear is determined by frequency of use and environmental conditions. This is why different customers might experience different levels of performance and life expectancies.
Q. Are any of the blade parts made from recycled materials? Can any of the blade parts on a MICHELIN blade be recycled after use?
A. All of the blade parts are made from new materials and can be recycled after use.
Q. What materials are used to manufacturer MICHELIN's Hybrid, all-weather blade?
A. The MICHELIN all-weather Hybrid blade is composed of rubber, plastic and steel components which are not hazardous and can be recycled after use.