Why Do My Windshield Wipers Leave Streaks Even When They're New?

New windshield wiper blades should leave a clear view behind when they sweep over your windshield, so if you're seeing streaks instead, you may be ready to yell in frustration. It's always possible that the new blades you got are defective, but there are some other potential causes. Two are very easy to deal with; the third is not as easy, but fixing it will take care of the problem for the long-term.

Tiny Things Fall Onto the Blades

One very simple reason why your new blades are leaving streaks is that there is something tiny caught on them. Pollen, bits of leaves, and other small bits can fall onto your windshield as the car sits, eventually sticking to the blades and moving with them as the blades sweep along the glass. These bits do not have to be visible to you to cause a problem. To fix the streaking, gently wipe down the blades with either rubbing alcohol or a mild cleanser.

Particles Stuck on the Windshield

It could also be that the blades are fine but that dried pollen or dirt on the windshield is creating a small obstacle. Again, these particles don't have to be visible to you to cause a problem, which can be frustrating because the windshield might look clean to you, but the streaking can still occur. Giving the glass a good wash and gentle scrubbing removes the dried particles. Washing your windshield regularly prevents a lot of debris from sticking to the glass.

Chips and Wiper Blades

The last option is the one that's not so easy to take care of. Rather, it is simple -- you repair or replace the windshield -- but that's not "easy," like cleaning the windshield is easy. Your windshield can sustain small chips and pits, either from flying debris or sand blown about on the wind. These small divots don't really slow down the blades or contribute to streaking themselves, but they can wear down the blades prematurely. So your nice new blades can end up with a tiny chewed-up bit on the edge that leaves streaks as the blade moves. For very small chips, repair might be enough, but for widespread pitting, glass replacement is really the only option.

If cleaning the blades and glass don't work, and you're sure there's nothing wrong with the blades or wiper arms, see an auto glass specialist. You need your windshield to be clear when you drive, so don't wait.