What should you do if the windscreen wipers judder?

When wiper blades making rubbing noises there can be many possible causes. Different solutions are possible, depending on the underlying problem. Therefore, some detective work is needed first. Possible causes for rubbing, squeaking or rattling wipers can be:

  • Wax residues or dirt on the windscreen weren’t removed beforehand.
  • New wipers haven’t been adjusted properly after they’ve been changed.
  • Older wiper blades with rubber that has already hardened no longer glide cleanly.
  • Wipers are damaged (usually accompanied by heavy streaks when wiping).

Remove dirt from the windscreen

Wipers sometimes rub after sealing the windscreen due to wax residue: Just like dirt, these are an obstacle for the rubber lip and increase the gliding resistance. The result is a rattling, squeaking or rubbing noise. The solution here, however, is very simple: clean the windscreen thoroughly with glass cleaner and a cotton cloth. This is recommended as the very first measure for windscreen wiper judder anyway.

Especially in the spring and summer months, a windscreen gets quite dirty from pollen, insects and bird droppings. Even new wipers rub in this way sometimes because there are many bumps on the windscreen. In future, you should clean the windscreen regularly, as this will also increase the wipers’ lifetime.

When cleaning the windscreen, make sure that you completely remove everything that doesn’t belong there. If the problem still persists, one of the following may be the cause.

Readjusting the wipers

If new wipers rub, it usually means that the rubber lip isn’t aligned at an exact 90° angle to the windscreen. When moving, the rubber then doesn’t glide over the windscreen, but is dragged unevenly over it. This results in it squeaking, rubbing or rattling. So if you’ve just replaced your wiper blades, you should check that the  wipers are also properly adjusted.

When should you replace the wipers?

Older wiper blades tend to rub, squeak or rattle over time. The reason for this is that, with increasing age, the rubber on the wiper blades becomes harder due to exposure to sunlight. As a result, the rubber lip loses its gliding properties and runs more and more roughly over the windscreen. This natural ageing process can’t be stopped, but it can be slowed down by caring for wipers properly.

If the windscreen wipers are damaged, juddering or rubbing may also occur. In most cases, the rubber lip is cracked or torn. To examine the condition of your wipers more closely, fold back the wiper arms and closely inspect the rubber lips: Do you see fine cracks, or is the rubber a little worn in some places? These are clear signs of damage.

If it's been a while since you replaced the wiper blades, or if you could see clear damage when you checked the rubber lip, it's time to change the wipers.