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    Tips to avoid breaking or damaging windshield wipers in inclement weather

    By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer

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    Windshield wipers are an integral part of your vehicle during inclement weather. Proper maintenance is necessary to make sure they work properly.

    Environmental factors, such as the sun, oil, airborne debris and moisture, can cause your wiper blades to deteriorate, according to Rain-X.

    Streaking, skipping, wearing, splitting, bent refill vertebra and bent frames are common windshield wiper problems.

    Wiper blades should be checked every six months and changed at least once a year, according to Rain-X.

    Windshield wipers

    Wipers, lifted off windshields ahead of the snow storm, protrude from snow covered cars at a car dealership in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    To keep your wipers working efficiently, periodically wipe the rubber blades clean with a damp cloth. It is good to do after washing your car, AAA Technical Services Manager Michael Calkins said in an email.

    "Wetting the cloth with windshield washer fluid can help remove dirt and deposits from the blades. Replace the blades when they no longer clear the glass in a single swipe," Calkin said.

    Windshield wiper maintenance does not change much season to season.

    However, the use of one-piece, beam-type blades or special winter blades covered with rubber boots will help prevent buildups of snow and ice that make the wipers less effective, according to Calkins.

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    During cold winter weather events, raise the blades off the windshield to prevent them from freezing to it.

    In the event that the blades freeze to the glass, free them carefully by hand. Do not use a scraper as it may damage the rubber, Calkins said.

    "In severe cases it may be necessary to run the defroster for a short time to melt the ice," Calkin said. "Usually the defroster and a good brush/ scraper are required to complete the job."

    Never use your windshield wipers to de-ice your windshield.

    The windshield washer system can also be filled with undiluted winter fluid, which typically has a freezing point below zero F, to help aid snow and ice removal.

    For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.

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