Why Do People Leave Their Windshield Wipers up in the Winter?

Updated: Nov. 28, 2022

More people are pulling up their windshield wipers during inclement weather to prevent them freezing in place, but some prefer to let wipers stay put.

If ice and snow are in the forecast, chances are you’ll spot parked cars with their windshield wipers elevated and pointed outward like spindly arms.

The trend may be on the rise, if Farmer’s Almanac Facebook followers are any indication. In response to a poll on their page, at least 425 people said that they go wipers-up when the forecast is icy, while close to 200 reported leaving them in place.

So, is pulling up windshield wipers smart prevention or pointless? Here’s a look at both sides of the debate.

Reasons to keep windshield wipers up

For drivers who regularly battle windshield ice and snow, scraping a heavily coated windshield is drudgery. If windshield wipers freeze in place as rain turns to snow, or if the snow melts and refreezes, it’s especially challenging to scrape around wipers unless they’re already pulled up.

Plus, aggressively scraping can nick and damage rubber wiper blades when they’re frozen in place, as can running frozen, stiff rubber blades across a windshield that’s still defrosting and ice-coated.

One more point for the wipers-up camp: If you turned off the car before turning off the wipers, restarting a car can reactivate the wiper motor. If wipers are frozen in place, that motor could potentially burn out trying to move them. You’ll want to know these other winter car care tips to survive the winter, too.

Reasons to keep windshield wipers down

Remote starters, as well as overall better technology, can be a reason to leave the wipers in place on the windshield, even on icy days. Cars, windshields, and rear-view windows warm up faster and better than before. If you have a few minutes to let the engine run, any ice should be melted by the time you climb behind the wheel. Just always remember to always double-check that the wipers are off before exiting your car to head off the wiper-motor burnout mentioned above—especially if you have a remote starter.

Some people argue that leaving wipers up also invites vandals to mess with them. No one wants to have to add “replace windshield wiper” to their to-do list, during inclement weather, especially.

While we’re talking winter wiper blades

If you live in a region that takes the brunt of winter, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests adding windshield-wiper inspection and possible replacement to annual winterize-your-vehicle chores. You may want to invest in heavy-duty wipers designed for winter, too.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman