There is no doubt windshield wipers are an essential part of any car’s safety system. For some reason though, many people tend to overlook this safety feature, as if the windshield wipers are there for fun or decoration. But when you’re behind the wheel during a snowy day and your wipers are not working? You’re in for a very, very bumpy ride.
Difficulty to see the road ahead of you can put you and other people on the road in great danger. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain, inspect and replace your windshield wiper blades regularly. Today, we’ll show you how to do that easily and quickly, all on your own.
Maintenance and Inspection
Because windshield wiper blades are made out of rubber, they tend to wear out easily. In fact, the more you use them, the less effective they become. For this reason, it’s vital to maintain your new wipers as well as you can, and to inspect them from time to time, to see if a new set is necessary.
Wiper blades can take a serious beating during winter and fall months, so if you have a garage or a safe place to park your car – absolutely do it. It’s much better to protect your vehicle and all the parts that come with it than to let it sit outside in the snow, rain and other unfavorable conditions. And let’s not forget about the sun – ultraviolet radiation doesn’t only damage your car paint, but the quality of your wipers as well. And it’s the same thing with airborne debris – things such as dust and sand are constantly carried in the wind, and can easily get stuck to your wipers and damage the material over time.
Conclusion? If you have the option of parking your car in a garage or any sort of a safe (closed) parking facility, make sure you do it.
Windshield wipers need regular cleaning in order to function properly. All the dust, mud and road dirt that’s stuck in your wipers (and believe us, if you’re driving your car anywhere mildly dirty, they’re full of grime!) can not only damage the material of the wipers themselves, but your windshield too, as the wipers can scrape the laminated safety glass and ruin it over time. Therefore, whenever you’re hand washing your car, make sure you wash and clean your wipers too. Just use a wet sponge and a small amount of non-abrasive glass cleaner to clean them, and they’ll be like brand new.
Most experts recommend inspecting your wipers regularly, every few weeks, up to a month. If they appear to be cracked or torn – there’s no doubt about it, they need to be replaced. But what about more subtle signs? If your wipers start squeaking, skipping, or streaking, it’s time to replace them. This is true even if they don’t appear worn out excessively. Wipers that skip, smear or streak while being used are not only annoying but can seriously reduce driving visibility, especially during torrents and heavy snows.
To stay on top of your wiper blades game, it’s recommended you change them every 6 to 12 months.
So you’ve properly maintained your windshield wipers but upon closer inspection, they appear to be worn out. Is it definitely time to replace them?
- Do the wipers leave your windshield almost as dirty as it was before you turned them on?
- Is there some dirt and grime left over after each pass of the blades?
- Do you find yourself needing to watch the road through small areas of the windshield during rain and snow, even though the wipers are in use?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, it’s definitely time to replace your wipers. If this is your first time changing the blades, do not worry – it’s not a difficult task, and with our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to replace those blades in no time.
- Buying the Wipers
Although not all wipers are the same, most newer cars use the same hook-style wiper arms, which are easy to replace. Some cars still use pin-type and latch-type blades, and it’s important to know which type is your type so you don’t end up with the wrong type of wipers. Since the hook-type wiper blades are the most common, we’ll focus on them in this article.
You also need to measure the wiper blade length. Don’t be surprised if your wipers are different lengths – that’s pretty common, as the driver’s side blade is usually longer than the one on the passenger’s side. And lastly, make sure you know the year, make and model of your car before buying new blades, as they’re made specifically to different car models.
If you don’t want to do all this yourself, just visit any auto shop and ask them to look up what will work for your vehicle.
When you go to the store (or visit Amazon), it’s likely you’ll be overwhelmed with the options – there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of wipers available, ranging from $5 to $30 each. Generally speaking, it’s best not to buy the cheapest wipers you can find, however, there’s also no need to buy the most expensive ones. A good rule of thumb is to pick something in the happy middle.
- Removing the Old Ones
First, prepare a small towel or a rag that you’ll use to rest the bare wiper arms on.
Before you can attach your new blades, you need to remove the old ones. The easiest way to do that is to first pull the entire wiper set up and place the blades in a vertical position. Start by turning one blade perpendicular to the arm – the hinge should be visible. Then, pull out the tab on the side of the hinge and follow by pulling the wiper down, towards the vehicle. At this point, the blade and the arm should be separated and you should be able to completely remove the blade by sliding it down from the hook (some pulling and shaking may be necessary, depending on the amount of corrosion or debris there).
Since the wiper arm is now bare and unprotected, use the towel you prepared to rest the hook on it. Just rest the bare arm against a rag on the windshield.
Do the same thing for the other wiper blade.
- Attaching the New Ones
Now that you’ve removed the old wipers, its’ time to attach the new ones. Luckily, this is just as easy as taking the old ones off, so just follow our instructions and you will have soon installed your brand new wiper blades.
Attach the new wiper by inserting the blade connector into the bare hook. The rubber should be pointed toward the windshield as you slide the wiper blade into the hook. Once attached, give it a good pull upward – you should hear a click when it’s snapped in. If you have trouble doing this, try slowly sliding the hook through the blade until it clicks into place. Then, pull up and engage the connector with the hook.
Finally, lower the wiper blade and put it in its place. Repeat the process on the other side.
- Testing the New Wipers
Before you go to town with your newly installed windshield wiper blades, make sure you test them. You don’t want to spend your precious time installing the new wiper blades only to find out they’re not working in the middle of the road, during rain. So, test out your new blades immediately after you’ve attached them.
If you also need to refill your washer fluid but are unsure how, follow these simple steps:
- Open the hood of your car and look for the reservoir, which should have a picture of a windshield on it;
- If you have trouble finding it, know that it’s usually located along the side of the engine bay;
- Open the fluid container and pour the windshield wiper fluid inside until it reaches the fill line. If you can’t see a fill line, just leave a couple of inches of space at the top of the container (meaning, do not over-fill it);
- Close the fluid container and lower the hood.
- Finally, turn on your car and press the windshield wiper fluid lever – done!
You should now have brand new windshield wiper blades that work perfectly, and perhaps even a full washer reservoir of fresh windshield fluid.
- How to Inspect and Replace Windshield Wiper Blades, The Allstate Blog
- How to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades, Cars
- 2-Minute Guide to Refilling Your Windshield Wiper Fluid for New Drivers, Driving Tests