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Should You Leave Your Wiper Blades Up Before a Winter Storm?

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We’ve all lived it— a snowstorm is in the forecast, and you’re driving home the evening it’s supposed to hit. Parked cars in lots, driveways, and on streets have their windshield wipers left up in the vertical position. Wipers on other vehicles have been left in the normal “down” position. Some driveways have cars with all wipers left up. It may leave you wondering why some drivers do this while others don’t. We’re here to break down the two schools of thought and give you our two cents on the better option.


Leave Windshield Wipers Up or Leave Wipers Down?

Let’s make one thing clear: There is no clear consensus on which way is right or wrong. Each side has its reasons for thinking its method is correct—especially those in the Northeast who have plenty of experience with cold mornings and icy conditions. 

When you pass a house with two cars in the driveway, one with the windshield wipers up, and the other with the windshield wipers down, know that it is a house deeply divided. We say this in jest, but it’s somewhat true.

windshield-wiper-down-winter-snow-stormReasons Why People Leave Their Wiper Blades Down

  • Leaving the wiper up might put stress on the spring that typically holds the wiper blade tight against the windshield.
  • Leaving the wiper blade up leaves the edge of the rubber blade exposed, which could be damaged by UV light or debris.
  • If the wiper blade doesn’t stay locked in the “up” position, it could slam back down onto the windshield with force, potentially cracking it.

Reasons Why People Leave Their Wiper Blades Up

  • To ensure the wipers don’t freeze to the windshield in icy conditions.
  • To reduce the risk of damage to the wiper blade caused by it sticking to the windshield.
  • It makes it easier to clear ice and snow from the windshield.
  • Let people know that severe weather is coming.

windshield-wiper-up-vs-down-winter-snow-stormIs It Better to Leave Wipers Up or Down During a Winter Storm?

Let’s break down the reasons listed above to determine which perspective holds more weight. Both schools of thought have valid points. 

First, if you’ve ever had your windshield wiper blades freeze to your windshield, you know it can be challenging to unstick them. Second, wiper blades are somewhat fragile, and it would be a shame to damage them. Third, wiper blades should always be moved up and out of the way when clearing snow and ice from around and underneath them.

On the other hand, there’s the risk that the wiper will not stay locked in the upward position and slam back down onto the windshield. Although the wiper blade can be put in an upright position, a bump or gust of wind is usually enough for its tensioner spring to snap it quickly back down against the windshield. These tensioners are here for a good reason- they keep the wiper blades tight against the windshield while you’re driving down the road.

As temperatures drop, the rubber windshield wiper blade hardens. At the same time, the glass windshield also becomes more brittle in the colder temps. These two factors make for a deadly combination if the wiper slams down onto the windshield. There have been reports of this causing windshields to crack which requires a windshield replacement.

Better to Replace a Wiper Blade Than a Windshield

windshield-wiper-replacementHere at®, we believe that the risk of leaving your wiper blades up is not worth the convenience that it can provide. You might save your wiper blades, but you could destroy your windshield instead. To put it into perspective, a windshield wiper blade costs approximately $25 and takes about five minutes to replace. On the other hand, a windshield costs about $350 on average and can take several hours for a professional to replace.

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How to Keep Your Windshield Clean During a Snowstorm

We’re here to offer a third solution—one that uses techniques from each group. This method involves covering your windshield with a mat.

  1. Use a stiff enough mat to stay upright on its own, but not so stiff that it doesn’t conform to the curves of the windshield.
  2. Lift the wiper blades, position the mat in place, and lower the wiper gently onto the mat.
  3. After the snowstorm has passed and you need to drive, lift the wiper blades, remove the mat.
  4. Be careful to keep as much of the snow from falling off the mat as possible while maneuvering it off the vehicle.
  5. Take care not to bump the wiper arms in the process. Have someone hold them in the vertical position if possible.
  6. Gently lower the wiper arms.
  7. Shake the snow off of the mat and store the mat.
  8. Raise and gently lower one wiper arm at a time and clean any remaining snow from around them.

If you’re still not convinced that putting a mat between your wiper blades and the windshield is enough to save them from impending ice, you can protect the wiper blades with sleeves as an additional precaution. Wrap the wiper blade in a towel, slide it into an old cutoff shirt sleeve, or purchase a product meant for the purpose. This will help ensure that not only the blades don’t stick, but also that they stay clean of any snow and ice.

Replacing a Windshield After a Winter Storm

We hope that one day the windshield wiper “leaver-uppers” and “decidedly-downers” can come together in agreement that the way is the superior way. In the meantime, if your windshield needs to be replaced this winter, use to find an auto glass replacement specialist near you. Receive an instant quote and book online without ever picking up your phone.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow serves as the Vice President of Operations for and is also a contributing editor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from George Mason University and has a background in the real estate industry. After high school, Daniel even worked at a family-owned glass shop for a short period of time and is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified installer. In his free time, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, especially around the water where he can be found surfing, fishing, and boating. He has a passion for bringing old vehicles back to life and loves working with his hands to restore cars, boats, and motorcycles. Find out more about Daniel on Linkedin.

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