Having your windshield wipers updated annually could just save your life.

"Wipers are made of rubber just like the belts, tires and all the other rubber components on your vehicle. They can get dry and cracked throughout the summer and a lot of times coming out of the winter months with ice on windshields has caused damaged to the wiper blades. When this happens, your wipers may start to streak from all that wear and tear — and that becomes a safety concern when your visibility is reduced," said Jeff Reitz, owner of JAR Performance Automotive, LLC in McPherson.

As the weather is starting to warm up and spring rains are pouring down, drivers need to be aware of the condition of their wipers. Reitz noted spring and fall months are the most common times vehicle owners come in to change their wipers.

"It's not a bad idea to put new ones in during the fall because it's right before winter so you've got fresh blades to get you through all that ice. However, the downside to that is winter is the most challenging time on your wipers so ultimately, it's best to replace in the spring so you have fresh wipers to get you through the year," he said.

While drivers may think replacing wiper blades biannually is a waste of money, Reitz said it's OK to change them annually.

"You really want to replace them at least once a year. Any of your rubber components over time deteriorate. The rubber starts to get dry and cracked and your windshield wipers are the worst because they're right there where they're catching the sun all the time, whereas your belts are protected because it's under the shade in the hood," Reitz noted.

But how do you know when it's time to replace your wipers?

"A lot of times the wiper starts to crack and you'll get some streaking across your windshield. If you run your wipers and notice certain areas across the windshield that don't get cleaned off all the way and you start to see lines or streaking, that's a good indicator that they need to be changed. Or, if your wiper blade is loose or starting to tear, that will also result in streaking," he said.

While wipers may seem like the least important thing on a vehicle, drivers should consider a number of factors before selecting the best one for their vehicle.

"More expensive isn't always better. There are some really expensive blades out there from $15 to $16 a blade. If you get the Rain-X or coated ones you're going to get a lot longer lifespan. You'll still be changing them about annually with any wiper blades — but if you get some of the cheapest ones, you'll most likely be changing them biannually," Reitz said.

Reitz also recommends that drivers should be careful while de-icing windshields during Kansas’ erratic spring months.

"One thing is we're kind of getting out of the winter season, but it's Kansas — so we could freeze anytime," Reitz laughed. "One thing we do see coming into our shop is the transmission of the wiper blades. If they're stuck to the windshield or frozen, don't try to turn them on. Not only does that damage the wiper blade itself, but we start to see damage to the transmission assembly, which is a series of linkage that goes from one wiper to the next. So take time to let your windshields thaw out before turning them on."

For more information, call JAR Automotive at 620-241-5194 or visit their website at https://jarautomotive.com.

Contact Brooke haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.