San Diego, California (NAPSI) - Windshield wipers may be among the most overworked and underappreciated equipment on your car.

For example, while drivers depend on their wipers for visibility in rain, sleet and snow, many don’t pay attention to them until they can’t see clearly out of the windshield. As a result, say experts, they end up endangering their own safety as well as that of fellow travelers.

“Windshield wipers take a beating—not just because of normal use, but also extreme temperatures, ultraviolet light, car waxes, tree sap, road tar and even pollutants,” says wiper specialist Chris Vermette.

A good rule of thumb is to replace blades at least yearly, or as soon as you notice a streak, skip or smear. It’s an easy do-it-yourself project, but damaged wiper arms and motors may need professional attention.

Signs Of Wear

The most common signs and causes of worn wiper blades include:

• Streaking: The rubber squeegee dries, hardens and cracks, or there is debris on the windshield.

• Skipping: The blade develops a curvature from damage or lack of use.

• Wearing: Excessive use and rounded—not squared—rubber edges.

• Splitting: Rubber deteriorates and separates from the frame because of sun and solvent damage.

Tips On Preserving Blades

While no wiper blade lasts forever, ACDelco Professional Service Center Program technicians recommend these tips to prolong blade life and preserve your visibility:

• Clean your windshield at every fill-up.

• Wipe the rubber blade with a damp paper towel to remove loose dirt.

• Never use windshield wipers to remove ice from your windshield. The stress can damage the blade as well as the motor. Use an ice scraper or defroster.

• In the winter, pull up wipers to prevent the squeegee from icing and sticking to the glass.

• Use a quality washer solvent; cheap ones are full of alcohol, which dries the rubber.

To learn more or find an ACDelco Professional Service Center, visit www.acdelco.com.