How and When to Replace Windshield Wipers

| September 25, 2012

windsheild wiper on dirty car

You wouldn’t drive blindfolded, so why drive with worn out windshield wipers? If they’re not clearing rain and spray, it’s time to find an auto parts store on DexKnows auto parts listings and pick up some new blades. They’re not difficult to replace, but if you’ve never done it before or want to be sure you’re doing it right, here are some tips.

Wiper Terminology

There are two main parts to a windshield wiper: the arm that pivots on a shaft at the base of the windshield and the blade that clears water or snow from the glass. The blade consists of a strip of rubber held in place by either a series of little metal linkages or a single curved piece known as a “beam blade.” These are a new, aerodynamic design of wipers that provides a more uniform pressure across the windshield.

When good wipers go bad

The rubber strip leads a hard life. It’s designed to flex as it changes direction at the end of each sweep, but high temperatures tend to bake it into a particular “set” or angle. UV rays in sunlight — the same ones that cause sunburn — harden the rubber over time, and road grime eats away at the edge contacting the glass. Eventually, the rubber starts breaking up and the blades will either shudder or leave streaks. Depending on how much use your wipers get and how much sunlight they’re exposed to, they’ll need replacing every one to three years.

Buying new blades

Auto parts stores place books on the wiper blade shelf that list the type of blade for each car or truck. Use the book, but note that on some vehicles the driver side and passenger side are different lengths. Wiper manufacturer Anco advises replacing blades in pairs.

Installation

If they’re not busy at the parts store, they’ll often step outside and fit the blades for you. If you want to do it yourself, it’s a straightforward job.

  • Lift the arms up and away from the windshield. If the hood is in the way, you’ll have to move the blades up from their parked position. Instructions for doing this will be in the vehicle handbook.
  • DO NOT let the arms spring back against the windshield because they might crack the glass. A cardboard box on the windshield will provide some protection.
  • Remove the blade from the arm. Most blades have a plastic fitting that snaps into a hook at the end of the arm. Usually, you just have to press down on a tab in the fitting to disengage the blade, after which it can be wriggled free.
  • There will be a selection of new fittings in the pack that the new wiper blade came in. Find one that looks like what was on the old blade and follow the instructions provided. Most blades have a top and bottom, so make sure to put them on the right way round!

Enjoy the view!

With the new blades in place, squirt some water on the windshield and watch how the rubber glides over the surface.

Remember, use DexKnows auto parts listings to find a nearby auto parts store and pick up a pair of blades.

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Category: Auto Maintenance, Auto Parts, Services

About the Author ()

After twenty years in the automobile industry the craft of wordsmith called. Putting down the wrench, Nigel picked up a keyboard on which to express his passion for all things automotive.