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Why you shouldn't put your windshield wipers up when it snows

Many people stick their windshield wipers up in the air when it snows — but experts advise against it.

Windshield wipers stick up from a snow-covered car
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When you live in a cold climate, snowy weather often creates additional work for car owners. You may have to shovel your driveway, put chains on your tires or dig out your car after an especially large snowfall.

However, there’s one winter task that you shouldn’t do the next time there is ice and snow in the forecast. Do not put your vehicle’s windshield wipers straight up into the air.

Despite the fact that many people continue to do this, some experts caution against it. Here’s what you need to know the next time you park your car outdoors before a big snowstorm.

Why do people put their windshield wipers up when it snows?

The logic behind putting your windshield wipers up in the air during snowy weather stems from yet another wintertime task: Having to scrape ice and brush snow off of your car’s windshield. By taking the windshield wipers off of the glass and standing them straight up into the air, some people believe that this helps prevent the wipers from sticking to the windshield, making it easier to scrape their windshield.

In the event that you left the wipers turned on, standing them in the air also prevents the windshield wiper motor from burning out in an attempt to push through snow and ice. Plus, if you park on the street and yours is the only car on the block with its windshield wipers up, it can make it easier to identify your car when snow has covered the rest of it. Although, if everyone has the same idea, the practice is rendered useless.

Damage caused by putting windshield wipers up in snowy weather

However, according to experts, these potential benefits come at the risk of damaging the wipers. When wipers are standing up in the air, the plastic gears could be weakened or damaged by forceful wind gusts, and the rubber blade can even be blown off.

Additionally, AutoZone warns that the wiper springs are stretched when placed in an upright position. “This is why it is not a good idea to leave your wiper blades up in preparation for cold precipitation. Once you stretch out that spring, the wiper arm can no longer provide the right amount of pressure, causing poor wipe quality.”

If you’re still not convinced standing your wipers upright in snowy weather could cause problems, consider the fact that it’s not only the wipers that could be damaged from this practice. Because cold weather can make glass more delicate, a strong wind gust that knocks a windshield wiper back down quickly could crack or shatter the windshield with relatively small force.

What to do instead of putting windshield wipers up

As an alternative to standing your windshield wipers up in the winter, some experts recommend to instead cover the entire windshield with a blanket, leaving the windshield wipers down. You can even find fabric covers made specifically for this purpose on Amazon, but, in a pinch, a plastic tarp or piece of cardboard weighed down with something heavy will also work.

If you don’t want to cover your entire windshield, AutoZone suggests at least covering your wiper blades. They say plastic grocery bags or plastic wrap will do the trick, but make sure whatever you use is waterproof.

This story originally appeared on Simplemost.