If you live in an area accustomed to winter weather, it's a familiar sight: Cars parked with windshield wipers facing up and greeting the sky.
Some people say that lifting the wipers can help prevent damage to the rubber wiper blades while others are skeptical, and this has long been a topic of discussion. Like choosing the direction in which the toilet paper roll is to be hung (above or below), each side has its strong supporters. But which drying method is best for clearing ice and snow from your vehicle?
To help answer that question, we asked Harold Singh, Quality Management Manager at Erie Insurance, to help determine who's on the right side of the big winter windshield wiper debate: Lifters or Leavers?
Lifting Your Wipers Up
Lifters, drivers who lift their windshield wipers up in front of a snowstorm, can do so for several reasons. Having the wipers up and out of the way makes it easier to scrape ice and snow from the windshield.
In addition, it also prevents the soft rubber wiper blades from being frozen to the glass. If this has happened to you, you know it can hurt to chip away ice from your frozen dryers. And trying to remove them can make things worse.
ERIE expert says: "If your wipers are frozen to the windshield, you can damage the blades by trying to lift them freely," Singh said. "And if you turn on the wipers while they's frozen, you can also put a lot of stress on the wipers' link and motor ̵
Leaving Your Wipers Down
The Leavers, those in the "wipe down" camp, claim that the disadvantages of lifting the wipers outweigh all the benefits. Not only does it require an extra step every time you get in and out of the vehicle, but also if your wipers get frozen to the windshield, your window defrost can do a quick job of melting the ice.
Some Leavers say that constantly lifting the dryers can wear out their feathers. But Singh does not think the argument holds.
ERIE's expert says: "There are 20-year-old cars that do not have worn springs," he said. "They are built to withstand that kind of tension, so you get many years of life out of the wiper arm itself."
Which method is best?
Lift or leave? Up or down? Which method obliterates the other? Like a frosted windshield, it is not entirely clear.
"There are risks in some way," Singh said. “But the risk is higher that you tear the rubber and try to release a frozen wiper blade. Leaving them behind is probably your best bet, if you can do it.
According to his experience, Singh says that not much damage to the vehicle is reported from leaving wiper blades up or down during a snowstorm. However, he has seen auto claims related to incorrect snow and ice clearing.
"We have seen claims where someone tried to use a shovel to get snow off the car or scratched the windshield using a metal scraper," he said. Even a snow brush can put light scratches in the paint if you are not careful.
Quick tips for clearing snow and ice from your windshield
Here are some tips for clearing ice and snow from your vehicle – to minimize any damage:
- Use the right tools. If you would not use it on the windshield or paint in the summer, do not use it in the winter. This means avoiding metal scrapers, shovels and coarse brushes or brooms.
- Bigger is better. Even if you do not have a large truck or SUV, Singh recommends that you get the largest plastic scraper you can find. It gives you more leverage, and you will not feel that you need a shovel for heavy snow.
- Use both sides of the scraper. Have you ever noticed the ridges on the back of a plastic scraper? They are designed to break up thick sheets of ice into smaller pieces. So when scraping ice, first use the back and then turn it to the flat blade. This method does a quick job of clearing an icy windshield.
- Use your defrost. Before you start scraping, start the vehicle and turn the defroster high. The job becomes easier when the car warms up.
Does my car insurance cover windshield chips or cracks?
If you happen to damage the car's windscreen, ERIE is ready to help. In general, this is how your car policy can come in:
- Windshield Repair: In most states where ERIE does business *, comprehensive coverage from ERIE can cover the cost of repairing a cracked or chipped windshield without deductible.  Windshield replacement: In most states where ERIE does business *, our glass repair cover can cover a new windshield (minus your deductible) And as a small bonus, if you need a new windshield, we throw in a pair of new wiper blades at no extra cost. to your ERIE auto policy. With that, you pay no deductible for a windshield replacement. As coverage varies by state, it is best to review your coverage information with a licensed insurance agent.
Related reading: Car insurance, glass and windshields
Want to learn more? Check out these related links from ERIE.
* In New York, you must purchase Full Window Glass coverage to have the no-risk repair feature. Full-coverage glass is not available in North Carolina. In Kentucky, glass is considered a safety device; under comprehensive coverage, no deductible for repair or replacement applies if only safety equipment is damaged (even if the loss is caused by a collision).