Why Are My Windshield Wipers So Loud? (10 Possible Causes)

There are few things as aggravating as loud wipers, particularly when a sudden downpour hits and you’re stuck in traffic. But have you ever asked, “why are my windshield wipers so loud?” Could there be an actual problem? This article examines possible causes for excessive windshield wiper noise.

Old wipers and dirt on the windshield are two of the most common reasons for loud wipers. However, several other reasons include incorrectly installed wipers, dirt/grime on the wipers, a blockage in the wiper motor mechanism, or poor-quality wipers. Adequate maintenance and regular replacement is critical for quiet wipers.

Aside from the annoying noise of wipers screeching across the windshield, there is a safety risk associated with noisy wipers. The remainder of the article explores the possible causes of loud wipers in more detail and (more importantly) how to remedy the situation.

See Also: 4 Reasons Your Wipers Won’t Turn Off

Possible Causes For Loud Windshield Wipers

wipers loud

Windshield wipers are critical components of a vehicle, yet we often overlook them until they become extra noisy and something goes awry. Unfortunately, noisy/loud wipers usually correlate with wipers not working effectively.

During light to moderate rain conditions, you might find your wipers “chattering” (catching in certain places), which ineffectively cleans your windshield.

Noise from your windshield wiper blades might signify that there is an issue with one of two parts:

  • The wipers (the actual blades that move across your windshield)
  • The wipers’ motor (the mechanism under the hood that powers the wipers)

Your windshield wipers should not make a screeching or scratching noise, nor should there be a grinding/grating noise during operation (if there is a noise, you’ll need to locate the source ASAP).

If your wipers are overly noisy, it could be one of the following issues:

1. Dirty Windshield

dirty windshield

A dirty windshield is often the most common reason for loud wipers (along with old/damaged wipers).

The wipers won’t work effectively when dirt, sand, road salt, or other grime is on them. As they pass across the windshield, the wipers drag the grains along, resulting in an awful scraping/scratching or squealing sound. The debris causes friction, which places additional pressure on the wiper motor.

To avoid this, ensure that you wash your car on a regular basis and have adequate wiper fluid to clean off your windshield when needed. At the very least, take advantage of the free use of windshield squeegees when you fill up at the gas station.

It’s worth noting that if your car has rain-sensing wipers, it’s possible for the sensor (typically located behind the review mirror) to malfunction or be obstructed. This may cause the wipers to turn on automatically and when combined with a dirty windshield, you’ll get some noise.

See Also: What is the Best Place to Buy Washer Fluid From?

2. Incorrect Size or Installation

If your wipers are installed incorrectly or you’ve purchased the wrong size, they may “catch” on areas of your windshield, causing streaks and squealing/squeaking noise.

You can sometimes fix this by bending them outwards (away from your windshield) in slight increments. Alternatively, examine the nut holding the wipers to see if it’s too tight/loose.

To avoid this, make sure you purchase the correct size wiper blades and follow the included installation instructions. If you’re not confident in your abilities, AutoZone will install them for you for free as long as you buy the replacement blades from them.

3. Using Wipers On Dry Glass

Windshield wipers are intended to be used when properly lubricated. Whether you’re wiping away rain/snow or spraying washer fluid onto your windshield, wipers need moisture.

When used dry (or when there is very little moisture), wipers often stick/catch and squeak/squeal across your windshield. The best way to avoid this (unfortunate) headache is to use washer fluid when there is relatively little water on your windshield (i.e., don’t operate the wipers dry).

Your should regular check to make sure you have enough washer fluid in the reservoir and top it off when as needed. The amount of washer fluid a car holds can vary depending on model so just because your Ford F-150 has plenty of fluid doesn’t mean your spouse’s Toyota Yaris does also.

4. Wipers Have Reached Their End of Life

worn wipers

Windshield wipers often have metal frames with rubber (predominately synthetic) blades/squeegees. These blades “age” due to sun and exposure to the elements. As wipers age, they become hard and brittle, eventually scratching and screeching across the windshield.

Unfortunately, the only option is to replace old wipers which are making a noise. Most car experts recommend replacing your wiper blades annually. However, if you live in an area that is particularly hot/cold (or dusty) or park your vehicle where it’s exposed to the sun more often, you may need to change them more frequently.

5. Damaged Wiper Blades

Aside from old wipers, those with tears, cracks, frayed edges, or other damage often make loud scraping noises as they move across the windshield.

When wipers break, they warp (change shape), causing part of the blade to press harder onto the windshield or touch at an awkward angle. This extra friction creates noise as the wiper catches.

It is a good idea to replace old and damaged wipers quickly to prevent unfortunate noises and ineffective wipers. If it gets bad enough, the metal wiper frames may even permanently scratch your windshield.

6. Poor Quality Wiper Blades

Inferior parts are the bane of most vehicle owners. Unfortunately, a poor-quality set of wipers often makes more noise than high-quality wipers.

The rubber material quickly becomes harder (ages), making it “stick/catch” and screech as it moves across the windshield. Aside from the wipers, the mechanism inside the motor may be of inferior quality, especially if it has been replaced with a cheap aftermarket brand.

Wiper motors have teeth that wear down with use. While this process takes years, sub-quality parts may wear sooner.

7. Wipers’ Gears Are Worn

Although it’s not a typical problem, the gears in the wiper mechanism may deteriorate over time (wear through use). When these gears do not function as designed, it often results in a grinding/grating sound.

If wipers are incorrectly attached (they press against the windshield too tightly), they may cause additional stress on the gear mechanism, which wears down more quickly. Incorrectly attached wipers might even burn out the motor that drives the wipers, necessitating a replacement.

Aside from the mechanism, a spring in the arm (frame) holds the wiper blades. These springs may also wear out over time, causing the motor to drag the wipers across the windshield, resulting in unpleasant noises.

If you suspect that your wiper mechanism is on the blink, it would be wise to make a service appointment and ask them to test it.

8. Foreign Body Stuck in the Wiper Motor

Although it’s even less likely than a worn-out motor, if dirt, a small piece of gravel, or some other foreign object lodges itself in the mechanism, it will result in a strange/loud noise.

When something gets inside the wiper mechanism, it eventually ends up moving between the gears, which could block them entirely or wear them down. A blockage usually produces a grating sound.

Alternatively, the wipers don’t move and cause a loud “whirring” sound. You’ll need to open the motor to clean it/remove the blockage.

9. Dirty Wiper Blades

If you haven’t used your wipers in a while, there’s a chance that dirt accumulated on them and it’s stuck on there good enough that even washer fluid won’t get it off. When you eventually use the wipers, they may cause a scratching/squeaking sound.

Take rubbing alcohol or soapy water and wipe the blades from time to time to prevent dirt from building up.

10. New Windshield Wipers

Like some new things, freshly purchased and installed windshield wipers (especially lower quality ones) may need some time to “wear in.” New wipers may squeak during use because they still have an oily film across the wiper blades/squeegees.

Over time and with use, this squeak almost always disappears, but not before working on your patience for a bit. Alternatively, use rubbing alcohol to clean the blades and remove the protective coating.

Methods to Reduce Windshield Wiper Noise

If you’re uncomfortable with troubleshooting, the best way to fix loud/noisy wipers is to mention it during your next oil change or ask a local auto parts store for assistance.

When troubleshooting the noise, start simple and eliminate the possibilities:

  • Is the windshield dirty?
  • Are the wipers dirty?
  • Are the wipers old or damaged?
  • Is the mechanism damaged/not working?

See Also: Should Wipers Be Left Up When It Snows?

Maintenance is the First Step to Quieter Windshield Wipers

how much windshield washer fluid

As with any vehicle component, wipers benefit from up-to-date maintenance, including:

  • Ensure your wipers are not broken, damaged, or old.
  • Clean your windshield and wipers regularly (especially if you live in areas with plenty of dirt, road salt, sea air, etc.).
  • Ensure your wiper fluid reservoir is filled sufficiently with the correct fluid.
  • Be Proactive. Don’t wait until you’re in a thunderstorm to check if your windshield wipers are working effectively. Check them periodically instead.

Purchase Good Quality Wipers and Wiper Fluid

Although the temptation to purchase cheaper wipers and fluids might be strong, you are better off spending a bit extra to acquire items that will last. Inferior quality products lose their effectiveness quickly, especially when subjected to harsh environmental conditions.

Purchasing quality goods improves the lifespan of linked components and (hopefully) won’t leave you in a lurch.