5 Causes of Squeaky or Skipping Wiper Blades

(Updated on April 2, 2021)

Windshield wipers are cheap and simple components that are often overlooked during basic maintenance. When it starts raining after a long sunny stretch, you want to make sure your windshield wipers work properly so you’re able to see out of the windshield.

If your windshield wipers start squeaking or skipping one day, you’ll want to address the issue as soon as you can. Bad squeaking noises may indicate there’s something sharp under the wiper blade that could even scratch the glass if left unaddressed.

Common Causes of Squeaky Windshield Wipers

There are several reasons why your wiper blades may be squeaking or skipping. Fortunately, all of them are relatively cheap and easy to fix.

Most people should have no problem resolving the issue themselves with this simple do-it-yourself project. Wiper installation instructions are usually included with the new wiper blades. 

1) Dirty or Dry Windshield

dirty windshield

If your windshield is dirty, small particles of dirt and debris may be picked up by the windshield wipers and scrape across the windshield as the wipers move.

Before replacing your wipers, check to make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped up and working effectively.

If you notice you aren’t getting very much windshield washer fluid onto the windshield, check your washer fluid nozzles. These are usually located near the back of the hood, close to the windshield. Sometimes the washer nozzles become clogged with debris over time.

You should see an even spray pattern from your washer fluid nozzles. If one part of your windshield isn’t getting covered by the washer nozzles, it may be time to clean the nozzles to make sure they aren’t blocked by dirt or debris.

2) Dirty Windshield Wipers

dirty windshield wiper

Sometimes dirt or debris can be trapped in the rubber part of the wiper blades. In this case, you’re unlikely to free the debris by spraying the windshield with washer fluid.

Pull up on the wiper blades and inspect the rubber. The surface should be clean and smooth. Any imperfections could cause squeaking as the wipers move.

3) Product Buildup

cleaning windshield

Some products such as auto wax may cause squeaking or skipping when applied to the windshield.

If you’ve just washed your car and start to notice squeaking or skipping from the windshield wipers, you may want to clean the product off of the windshield and switch to good auto glass cleaner such as Invisible Glass or RAIN-X.

4) Old Wiper Blades

damaged wiper blade

As wiper blades age, the rubber becomes harder. The blades that once behaved like a squeegee may become brittle and crack. Even if the rubber hasn’t cracked, the wipers may have a harder time conforming to the curvature of the windshield as they age.

Related: Best Windshield Wipers for Winter/Snow

5) Incorrect Wiper Blade Length

wrong wiper blade length

When you go buy windshield wiper blades, you’ll probably find a book full of wiper blade sizes for each make and model. Wiper blade sizes may differ even on the same car, depending on which side you’re looking for (driver side, passenger side, or rear window).

If you buy a blade that is too long or short, the wiper may have the wrong curvature or rub against something other than auto glass as it travels.

Double check the owner’s manual, look for a book at the auto parts store, or search online for the correct wiper blade size for your specific vehicle.

Wiper Blade Replacement Cost

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We recommend Parts Geek or Advance Auto Parts for the best prices and selection.

replace windshield wiper blade

If your windshield wiper blades haven’t been replaced in the last year or so, consider buying some new wiper blades.

Many wiper blades advertise different features, but most blades are basically the same. Less is more here; it is usually better to buy cheap blades and replace them more frequently than it is to buy expensive blades and leave them on the car for years.

You can find wiper blades for as cheap as $10 per blade, sometimes less for smaller blades. Others can run you closer to $20 or even $30 per blade.

Blade length also affects pricing. For instance, that 12″ blade on the rear window of your SUV is going to cost less than the 26″ wiper blade in front of the driver.

Some wiper blades have replaceable rubber inserts that may be cheaper than buying the entire blade assembly.

If you have an active bumper-to-bumper warranty, you may be able to get replacement wiper blades from the dealership at no cost to you. Call or email your specific dealership for more information.

Product Highlight: RAIN-X Water Repellent

Rain-X reviewIf you live in a very rainy area, windshield wipers alone are often not enough to give you clear visibility of the road. Mist from other vehicles can spray onto the windshield at higher speeds, and heavy rain may smear across the windshield distorting your view. Dirt from the windshield may also be smeared by the wipers if the windshield washer fluid isn’t able to clean the surface effectively.

This phenomenon is very dangerous and can easily blind some drivers, even if their wipers are brand new. There is no wiper setting fast enough to overcome some rainy situations.

RAIN-X uses a hydrophobic compound that is specifically designed for exterior auto glass. When water hits a windshield treated with RAIN-X, the water beads up and rolls right off the windshield on contact.

In some scenarios, RAIN-X is so effective you can drive down the road without using your windshield wipers, even when it’s pouring down rain!

How to Apply RAIN-X

  1. Clean glass first with the RAIN-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner. After spraying the windshield, wipe the surface down with a clean microfiber towel until it is dry.
  2. Verify that there is no more dirt or debris on the windshield. Grab another clean microfiber towel and wipe down the windshield again. If you see any dirt on the microfiber towel, repeat step 1.
  3. Spray the windshield again using pure RAIN-X Water Repellent. After wiping the windshield down with a third clean microfiber towel, let the windshield dry for about an hour before introducing water to the windshield.
  4. Repeat this process on any other windows you wish to treat with RAIN-X. For best results, also apply RAIN-X to side glass to aid in cross traffic visibility.

This application strategy is extremely effective in areas that receive heavy rainfall, such as the Pacific Northwest. The best part is that RAIN-X is inexpensive and does not cause wiper skipping like some conventional auto wax products.

RAIN-X wears off over time. Depending on how often it rains and how often you use your windshield wipers, you may be due for another application every few months.

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