Windshield wipers are a necessary safety device, but they can also damage your auto glass if you aren't careful.
Scratches and hazing are the main types of damage you will experience from faulty wipers. The culprit is either the wipers themselves or how they are used. Wipers that are old, have a rough edge, or and become cracked can all lead to damage. Damage to the wipers comes from age or from using them over an uneven glass surface, such as when you run the wipers over a frozen windshield or over the pit of a rock chip before it is repaired.
Use damage occurs when the wipers are not used properly. For example, one should never use the wipers on dry glass — always make sure it is raining or first apply wiper fluid to the window before turning on the wipers. Allowing wipers to get dirty can also lead to damage since that dirt will be scraped across the window along with the wiper blades.
Scratches are the most obvious forms of damage. These occur when dirt is scraped across the window. They can also occur if a wiper blade is damaged to the extent that the metal or plastic arm comes in contact with the glass. Windshields are made of several compressed layers of glass, so scratches are less severe if they only penetrate the surface layer.
Hazing is less obvious than a scratch and it occurs over time. It is often most noticeable at night, as lights will blur and it won't be as easy to see clearly out the window. Hazing is usually the result of many fine scratches in the glass that have caused the top layer to become badly broken down. Using the wipers dry or failing to clean them regularly are the common causes of major hazing.
Scratches can sometimes be repaired if they are shallow and there is only one. Scratches on the passenger side are better candidates than those on the driver's side, since any repair may cause some distortion in the glass. Repair is done by filling the scratch with an acrylic filler and then buffing the surface to clarity.
Replacement is the best option for deep scratches, vision-obscuring scratches, multiple scratches, or hazing. You can have the window replaced on site at a windshield repair service, or you can have a mobile service complete the job if you are short on time.
Contact an auto glass repair shop to learn more about your options.