Will frequent windshield wiper use wear down the windshield?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

My father is always telling me to turn my windshield wipers down or off
whenever possible. He says they will wear into the windshield glass,
especially at high speed. Is this true? -- Jessica

TOM: Your father is an unmitigated cheapskate, isn't he, Jessica? I'll bet
he lets the dog lick the dinner plates just to save money on dish soap.

RAY: Technically, he's right, of course. And I would do exactly what he
says, Jessica. He wants you to turn off the windshield wipers whenever
possible. Fine. Whenever it's sunny out, you turn 'em off. That's when it's

TOM: The wipers do grind a little bit of dirt into the windshield,
shortening its life by some amount. But you need the wipers when it's
raining so you can see. And that should always be your primary
consideration. If the wipers help you see better, use them. If they don't,
turn them off. And if the windshield ever gets so scratchy that you have
trouble seeing out of it at night or in the rain, get a new windshield.
Most experts agree that "seeing" is a crucial part of driving.

RAY: And if Dad ever starts talking to you about using the brakes less
often so you won't wear out the pads, write to us again and we'll have a
little talk with the old guy, OK, Jessica?

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One