When The Snow Is About to Fall, Should I Leave My Windshield Wipers Up?

A Girls Guide To Cars | When The Snow Is About To Fall, Should I Leave My Windshield Wipers Up? - Wipers Up Featured

Snow is coming, what should I do? The wipers up/wipers down conundrum.

I have lived my whole life in Colorado but it wasn’t until several years ago that I noticed something interesting going on before a snowstorm (aside from the grocery store being out of milk, eggs, and bread, that is). I noticed cars in parking lots with the wipers left up, off of the windshield.

Related: Do You Need Winter Tires? How, and What to Know

Wipers Up On The Ford Escape Hybrid. Photo: Sara Lacey

Wipers up on the Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid. Photo: Sara Lacey

What’s the deal? I started asking around. I learned that leaving your blades up is supposed to prevent your wiper blades from getting stuck to your windshield from the ice. We all know scraping the windshield is a bummer. And when the blades are finally freed from their positions at the bottom of the glass, it’s a disappointment if they emerge all beat up and leaving streaks and gaps across your field of vision. So this seemed like a great idea!

So why would I leave my windshield wipers down?

But not so fast, says a different camp. Which camp? The camp that says leaving your wiper blades up can weaken the springs that hold the wipers in place. If they weaken too much, they may need to be replaced. Also, if you live in an area that has high winds, you can expect that the wind could damage the wiper arm, or even rip it off altogether. I have to say, if that happened, your drive home would be absolutely awful. 

Related: The Secret To Easy Car Care – and Keeping Repair Bills Low

Snowy Escape Hybrid Windshield. Photo: Sara Lacey

Snowy Escape Windshield. Photo: Sara Lacey

After scouring various sources like AAA and the Farmer’s Almanac, I learned there is no definitive right or wrong answer. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to come up with a reasonable course of action. What seems to be a reasonable solution, my friends, is to leave those wipers down and in place, but invest in a set of winter wiper blades at the begin of each winter. Winter blades are made of heartier materials to hold up to snow, ice and, ideally, your scraper. This saves you from the potential hazard of not having a wiper or wiper arm to manage. Not to mention the expense of replacing an entire wiper arm.

I left the wipers down on my 2022 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid test car during a snow storm the other day. I have always left them down, though, so maybe I’m not the best guinea pig. I think my biggest problem with the wipers occurs when I’ve been too impatient to clean them off. That said, it turned out to be a pretty mild storm, so my wipers came free quite easily. So you may have to decide what works best for you in your climate.

Now for the next challenge: How to keep that little itty bit of snow in the door cracks from getting all over the seat when you open the door.

Related: Putting the New Michelin X-Ice Winter Tires to the Ultimate Test: Driving in Quebec


Snow On The Backseat. Photo: Sara Lacey

Snow on the backseat. Photo: Sara Lacey

Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey