4 Causes of Squeaky Windshield Wipers (and How to Stop Them)

4 Causes of Squeaky Windshield Wipers (and How to Stop Them)

It’s annoying. *Schlursh* *Squeak* *Brrrrbp* *Brrrrrbp* over and over again when the rain has already stopped and you just forgot to turn the windshield wipers off.

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Shouldn’t the engineers have figured out how to stop the squeaking? What about the annoying sounds your wipers make when scrubbing ice off your windshield?

You might have noticed that, as the squeaking gets louder month by month, the wipers are less efficient at getting water and debris off of your glass. In this article, we aim to get to the bottom of this nonsense.

Table of Contents

Why Do Windshield Wipers Squeak?

There has to be a reason. Here are some to mull over:

#1 – Your Glass is Dirty

what causes windshield scratcheswhat causes windshield scratches

Sound is produced normally by friction and vibration. You’d think that a smooth rubber wiper blade rubbing against a smooth glass surface wouldn’t produce much sound, and that’s normally the case. The way you can make noise with these two elements is by introducing some friction into the equation.

In comes the enemy; dirt. He’s bad news, and he’s only there to stir up some trouble.

Dirt accumulates on your windshield no matter how you’re driving. It can accumulate in rainstorms as the water washes debris from the roof of your car down your windshield. If you take a weekend trip into the mountains or have a dirt driveway, you’ll see dirt accumulate.

But even if you’re just driving down the highway, cars will kick up salt, magnesium, and other road debris right into your windshield. It’s inevitable, you’re going to get a dirty windshield.

#2 – Those Blades Need Washin’

dirty wiper bladesdirty wiper blades

As you might imagine, as dirt accumulates on your windshield, so will it on your wiper blades. This dirt can come from a weekend expedition to MOAB, your daily commute, a snowstorm, rainfall, or if you just live in the dusty desert.

Little by little, dirt will accumulate on your wipers and start to make noise. Dirt gets in between the wipers and your glass, and as the blade wipes against your glass surface, it will start to create a rhythmic squeaking noise.

If you think your glass is clean, but your wipers are just SO LOUD, get out your towel, wet it with tap water, and just wipe down those blades. Careful, don’t pull too hard either way because you could accidentally break the mechanism. (Trust me, this comes from experience. -Ed)

#3 – Old Wiper Blades

old wiper bladesold wiper blades

You’re a stingy bastard, so you haven’t replaced your wife’s wiper blades in seven years because “they’re fine.” So, she has been telling you nicely that the wiper blades are getting louder and it’s pretty annoying, but as is the case for most of us, we didn’t listen.

You have to drive her car one day and it’s raining, you turn on the wipers and it’s loud as all hell. These need to be replaced, and it’s up to YOU to replace them and apologize to her.

Most wiper blades will last 2-3 years, depending on how long they are in the sun/dry climates. This is because the contact surface is rubber, which will dry out when faced with excessive UV exposure and a lack of moisture. 

Try cleaning the glass surface with a glass cleaner, then clean the actual wiper blades. If that doesn’t work, inspect your wiper blades.

Do they look cracked or dry? Replace them. Do they still make a bunch of noise when you are driving through a downpour? Replace them.

Wipers are what I consider to be a “wear part” like your tires, clutch, wheel bearings, bushings, and air filter. (Oh yeah, we have articles for everything, click those links. -Ed) They will eventually go bad and you should replace them when they do.

#4 – Wiping When Dry

wiper blade on dry windshieldwiper blade on dry windshield

Have you ever used a bidet? Yeah? How does it compare to just using dry toilet paper? That’s what I thought. Never wipe when dry, else you’ll have some “stuff” just hanging out there for the rest of the day, and nobody wants that.

The same applies to your windshield wiping. Never wipe when it’s dry, or else you’ll get a bunch of friction.

Even though it seems like two frictionless surfaces moving across one another, the wiper will grab onto whatever little surface topography/scratches your windshield may possess and “jump” across the surface. Making a clattering/squeaking noise the entire way. 

The easiest way to stop this from happening is to turn the wipers off. See? No more squeaking!

How to Stop Squeaky Wipers

Squeaky wipers may seem inevitable, but there are a few fixes that will help you avoid this in the future:

#1 – Replace and Upgrade Your Blades

replace wiper bladesreplace wiper blades

Now, the easiest fix to a lot of automotive problems is to just replace the part with a brand new version. This fixes the problem normally because wear and tear is the enemy to every engineer’s dream of keeping your car running forever.

If you replace a bad part with a new one, you’ll return that mechanism to the factory’s specifications. With your wiper blades, the same applies. When you replace them, please, just buy a pair of Bosch Icons.

In my experience, they last longer, wipe smoother and tend to just be a better option when the going gets tough. Buy once, cry once.

#2 – Clean and Wax Your Windshield

We’ve established above that dirt is the enemy of a smooth windshield wiping experience, so why not clean the surface preemptively?

A lot of windshield cleaners will offer wax properties mixed into the solution, so water and debris will not stick to the glass itself, only the wax!

This means less debris will accumulate on your glass surface, and you’ll have less of a chance of loud wiping experiences. Treat your glass right and it will return the favor.

See Also: How to Remove Water Spots on Your Windshield

#3 – Clean Your Wiper Blades

cleaning dirty wiperscleaning dirty wipers

Dirt is the enemy of silence, as we explored above. So make sure to clean your wiper blades once a month. While this timeframe isn’t backed up by peer-reviewed studies, it seems to have worked for me since I’ve started owning cars. 

#4 – Keep Your Car Clean

If you keep your car clean, less dirt will accumulate on the surfaces you care about, and you’ll have less friction when you run a wiper blade across the windshield, for example.

Cleaning your car also has some other benefits:

  1. Your resale value will be higher if you can show that you have taken good care of your car, and it will instill confidence in the buyer that they are making a good financial decision.
  2. Looking over your car as you clean it regularly can help you spot issues before they become a real problem.

Cracked rubber, glass nicks/chips, rust spots, fluid leaks, and flat tires are just some of the problems I have found when cleaning my car. Honestly, it can save you thousands of dollars and today, we need all the help we can get.

Other Windshield Wiper Noises

Now, I’ve covered some noise variations above, but there are some more that you should watch out for.

Chatter

If you look closely at the rubber portion that comes in contact with your windshield, you’ll notice that there is a flat portion, and a corner portion. In order to slide across the flat glass surface with the least amount of resistance, the flat portion needs to be flush with the flat surface of the glass.

If the angle is different, or off in any way, the wipers will *grab* then *release*, *grab*, and so on. This sounds like a rapid “chatter” when it happens at speed and can get pretty annoying. Adjust the angle of your windshield wipers by watching the video below and you’ll be on your way!

What wiper chatter sounds like:

Banging

If you hear a smacking or banging sound when running your wipers, you could have a misalignment issue. One wiper could be the wrong length, and they’ll hit each other as they wave back and forth.

This problem will be corrected when you go to your favorite auto parts store where they can provide you with the PERFECT length of wiper blades so they won’t hit each other. Or to save some money, use Google to find your correct sizes (ie: “2020 Mazda 3 Wiper Sizes“), and get your Bosch blades on Amazon.

What wiper banging sounds like:

Scraping

If you hear a distinct scraping sound, like fingernails on a chalkboard, stop the wipers immediately and get out to inspect them. Most-likely, this is due to there being a rock of other sharp piece of debris lodged in the windshield wiper.

The scraping sound from the debris physically scratching your glass, which is NOT good! Then you’ll have to worry about removing windshield scratches.

Now, if you’ve made it to this point in the article, you know more about windshield wiper sounds than anybody really should, so I would congratulate you. But seriously, go outside and get some fresh air!

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