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When driving, nothing can be as frustrating as wipers that are smearing instead of wiping. Any time you experience low visibility because of your wipers, the best solution is to find the cause and take the appropriate corrective measures. So, how do you fix windshield wipers if they are not functioning as expected?

What is the importance of windshield wipers?

A set of windshield wipers are smearing instead of wiping the windshield
Windshield wipers | Getty Images

Although windshield wipers are small car parts, they significantly impact your driving experience and safety. The wipers help remove snow, pollen, dirt, rain, frost, and related debris quickly and smoothly. The windshield motor does an excellent job moving the wiper arms across the windshield.

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to differentiate whether your wipers are smearing, streaking, or skipping. Typically, smearing occurs due to worn-out blades, poor quality washer fluid, or a dirty windshield. When the windshield is covered, and your visibility diminishes, you’re experiencing smearing.

Windshield wipers are your best partner for excellent visibility when driving. That’s why it’s vital to replace windshield wiper blades as recommended because they wear out fast because of their soft rubber elements.

What to do when your wipers are smearing instead of wiping

As Arrive Alive states, windshield wipers are made to last six months to one year, depending on the quality, usage, and weather. If you’ve had yours for longer than recommended, they probably have started degrading and won’t clear dirt and water effectively. So what should you do if your wipers are smearing instead of wiping?

Clean the windshield thoroughly

Your wipers will work extra hard if your windshield is always dirty. With the extra work, the wipers will wear out or get damaged faster. Cleaning your windshield every time you refill your gas will ensure the wiping area is always clean and your wipers have a more straightforward task. When cleaning the windshield, take note of small pieces of grit or sand under the wiper blades that can cause scratching.

Try cleaning the windshield thoroughly when your wipers are only smearing instead of wiping. Dirt and grime can mess up your visibility. The best approach to clean the windshield thoroughly is to spray your preferred glass cleaner and use a microfiber cloth to clean it. Employ side-to-side motions to gently wipe the glass and repeat until the cloth no longer gets dirty. If this trick doesn’t work, consider upgrading your wiper fluid.

Clean wiper blades

During heavy rain, dusty conditions, or snowfall, you’ll experience blurry vision, which could signify a dirty windscreen glass. According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, a dirty windshield wiper results in a smeary windscreen reducing your vision. Your wiper blades, just like the windscreen, require regular cleaning.

Develop a routine of cleaning them often to extend their lifespan and make them more efficient. Wiping the blade’s edges with rubbing alcohol can also reduce streaks on your windscreen.

Replace your wiper blades

Worn out wiper blades are the main reason your wipers are smearing instead of wiping. The blades are made of soft rubber, wear out over time, and need replacement. Most automakers recommend replacing it every six months. Examine your wiper blades for signs of wearing out, including cracked, missing, or split rubber pieces.

Any damage to the wiper’s smooth surface can make them efficient. If you can’t repair the cracks or splits, it’s time to replace your wiper blades. Another signal to replace your wipers is if they are over six months and inefficient.

You’ll enjoy enhanced visibility when on the road with proper windshield and wiper blade cleaning. If cleaning doesn’t work, it’s time for a replacement.


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