Blustery snow, sleet and ice can make visibility almost nonexistent in some winter conditions. Although properly working wipers are a must year round, they are especially important when visibility is limited and road conditions are poor. Technicians working in areas with harsh winter conditions should make it a point to educate their customers and inspect their wipers at this time of year to verify their vehicles are suited to handle anything that comes their way.
Here are some tips for talking to your customers about winter wipers:
When to Know Wipers Need to Be Changed
Most wiper manufacturers recommend a replacement interval every 6-12 months, but wiper life can vary greatly depending on the region of the country and the conditions under which the vehicle is operated. Exposure to intense sunlight and heat can expedite the degradation process, as can exposure to dirt and debris. A quick visual inspection can help you spot any tears or cracks in the rubber that signal it’s time for replacement.
Wipers that chatter, screech or skip on the windshield should also be changed. Additionally, wipers that leave streaks should immediately be replaced. Using damaged wipers during winter can be especially perilous since they don’t remove snow and ice as efficiently as new wipers. Using damaged wipers in the winter can also expedite the degradation process, leaving the customer’s windshield open to damage. If the blade starts to separate from the backing in any way, exposure to snow and ice can exacerbate the problem and cause the arm to scratch the windshield, which can result in a costly windshield replacement.
Protecting Wipers Throughout the Season
You want to make sure your customers’ wipers are functioning properly when they need them most. Always remind your clients that they can extend the life of their wipers by using a snow brush to clear off all accumulated snow and ice before getting in their cars. They can also prevent their wipers from getting stuck on the windshield when the vehicle is sitting by pulling the blades away from the car. While taking an extra minute to brush off their vehicles might result in your clients having cold fingers and toes, it is better than damaging the blades and stressing the wiper motor. This goes for both the front and rear windshields. Additionally, always remind your customers to replace both of their blades even if only one is damaged, as uniform wear is key for optimal performance.
A Word on Different Wiper Types
There are some notable differences in the construction of wipers that your customers should know about. Traditional bracket-style wipers have a metal arm that connects to a separate blade at several points. These are more commonly found on older vehicles, and their construction can open the door to ice and snow accumulation that settles between the blade and the bracket. If your customers have this type of blade, they may have to clear the debris before driving to prevent streaking.
Beam blades are more common on newer cars. These blades house the metal arm inside the blade itself, minimizing the areas where snow and ice can build up. Beam blades may also work better in winter conditions since there are no contact points pressing the arm into the blade, which may make for more uniform pressure on the windshield.
Hybrid blades are similar in some respects to the traditional bracket-style wiper, but have a more low-profile design protected by an outer covering that helps minimize potential accumulation. Both hybrid and beam blades can make for less visibility problems in colder weather, and can be suitable replacements for your customers; however, the best wiper for your customers’ vehicles can largely depend on the make and model.
Why Focus on Wipers
Selling wipers might not seem like a high priority in your shop since they’re not a high-ticket item, but making sure your customers are prepared for wintery conditions is a small way to build trust in your business. Showing your customers that you’re truly concerned about their wellbeing — rather than just how much they’re spending — can go a long way in enticing customers to keep coming back regardless of whether you have the lowest prices in town or not.