You often take for granted the benefit of having reliable windshield wipers. When it’s raining or the windshield gets dirty, it’s helpful to have the power to clean it off right away. So, what do you do when the wipers need to be changed? It’s important to learn how to change windshield wiper blades if you want to continue seeing clearly.
In this guide, we walk you through the steps and show you when to change the wiper blades. We also cover the cost of windshield wiper blades and discuss whether you are equipped to change them yourself.
How to Change Windshield Wiper Blades
To change windshield wiper blades, you must first know what part needs to be changed. You should also measure the wiper blade size and purchase the appropriate replacement. From here, you raise the wiper arm away from the windshield, unhook the blade and install the new wiper. Here are more detailed steps of how to change windshield wiper blades:
Determine What Parts Need to be Changed
It’s important that you understand what part of the wiper blade actually needs to be changed. There are three parts to the average blade, depending on the car model. You have the lower wiper arm that sits on the base of the windshield. There’s also the plastic or metal blade that attaches to this arm. Finally, there’s a rubber blade that wipes off the windshield.
If the wiper blade, the rubber part, is what needs to be changed, you can follow our instructions. Otherwise, you are going to need directions that deal with the other two parts. In most modern cars, the windshield wipers are only sold as complete units, and the rubber blade can’t be replaced separately.
Measure Wiper Blade
Wiper blades come in varying sizes. You have to purchase the right replacement blades for your vehicle. To determine the right size, measure the rubber blade with your measuring tape or ruler.
You want these exact measurements to ensure the new blades match up. You can also look up the measurements in your owner’s manual or on most auto parts catalogs. Keep in mind that many cars use a different size for the passenger and driver’s side blades. Don’t simply assume that the two measurements match.
Also, the hook attachment must be the same as your old wiper blades. Modern cars use many different hooks and therefore it is easiest to buy special wiper blades made for your car model.
You need to get the new wiper blades in your hand before you can replace them. Knowing the measurements and type, you are now ready to purchase a high-quality replacement.
If you aren’t in a hurry, you might prefer to buy the wiper blades online. These prices are often better than what’s found in the store. Otherwise, you can visit your local auto parts store or big box store to get the replacement blades.
Raise Wiper Arm
Pull the wiper arm from the windshield. It should remain in the upright position, sitting perpendicular to the glass.
Use great care while pulling the arm away. Because the wiper arm is spring-loaded, it could easily snap back onto the glass and create a crack.
You must unhook the blade from the arm to get it out. Every blade is attached in different ways, so you may want to read the owner’s manual for more information if you aren’t sure.
In some cases, there will be a plastic stopper that holds the blade on the arm. In this instance, you press on the stopper to unhook the old blade from the arm. Other designs use pins to secure the blade in place instead of the hook.
While you figure out how to get the blade off, hold securely to the arm with the alternate hand so it doesn’t snap back on the windshield. Additionally, you can put a folded towel on the glass as a secondary measure.
Install New Wiper
Once you get the old blade off, it’s time to put on a fresh pair. Slide your new blade into place where the old blade was once sitting.
Secure the new wiper blade with whatever hook or pin is used with the construction. Lay this wiper back onto the windshield gently and repeat the steps with the second one. You will follow the exact same instructions with the second blade and the rear blade if that also needs to be changed.
Test New Wipers
Now you are ready to test out your new wipers to see how they work. Shoot some windshield wiper fluid on the glass to use your new wipers.
If the fluid level is low, now is the time to top it off. You shouldn’t see any streaks or strange noises when using the new wipers.
When to Change Windshield Wipers
For some people, it makes more sense to replace the wiper blades at regular intervals, even if there are no signs of wear. The majority of automakers recommend changing the blades every six to 12 months.
If you take your vehicle in for regular service, the blades might be changed as part of the typical maintenance schedule. Read the owner’s manual to see what’s recommended.
A visual inspection of the blades helps you determine when to change them. If the rubber is cracked or starting to peel, it’s time to get some new ones.
The UV rays and inclement weather will eventually breakdown the rubber material. If you allow the peeling and cracking to continue, you may notice chunks of rubber missing completely.
The new blades are going to clean off the windshield with complete clarity. If the blades are leaving behind nasty streaks, it’s a sign that the rubber is no longer effective.
You may also have trouble getting dirt off of the glass. The simplest bug dropping or piece of dirt can become impossible to remove once the wipers fail.
Sometimes, it only takes your ears to figure out that something is wrong with the blades. Once the squeaking sound starts, you know that it’s time to replace them.
Keep in mind that the blades can squeak if they are used without enough liquid on the glass. If that’s the case, the problem might not be related to worn-out rubber after all.
If the wiper blades are in extremely poor condition, contact might be limited. With chunks of rubber missing from the blade, it becomes difficult for anything to be cleaned from the glass.
Pay attention to the streak left behind. You should see the whole windshield cleared. If there’s a section that doesn’t appear to make contact, try changing the blades.
There’s also the chance that the blades are going to skip. When the blades are in great condition, they will smooth gently across the windshield.
If it is skipping along the glass, it’s time to inspect the rubber material. Otherwise, there could be something wrong with the wiper arm itself.
Can You Replace Windshield Wiper Blades Yourself?
It’s not difficult to replace the windshield wiper blades. If you have beginner expertise with cars, you should be able to walk through the steps with ease. There are no special tools needed and you can usually replace the blades in a matter of minutes.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself or you are having trouble, you don’t necessarily need to pay a repair shop. Most auto parts stores will change the blades for free if they are purchased from that location.
Wiper Blade Replacement Cost
Most wiper blades cost $20 or less for a pair. Of course, if you want high-end wiper blades from companies, such as Rain-X, you may spend a little more on the quality.
Additionally, there don’t need to be any labor charges. Either put the blades on yourself or buy them from the auto parts store to get free installation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it difficult to change wiper blades?
It is not difficult to change wiper blades in most car models. However, on some modern cars the bracket can be quite difficult to figure out. Most auto parts stores offer a free replacement if you buy wiper blades from them, so if you’re not sure, you can ask them for help.
Should I replace both wiper blades at the same time?
Yes, it is recommended to replace both wiper blades at the same time, although it is not necessary. However, wiper blades are quite cheap and if you want to avoid problems in the future, it is best to replace both at the same time.
How often should you replace your wiper blades?
It depends on the make of your car, the quality of your wipers, the climate, and how often you use them. In general, however, most mechanics and manufacturers recommend replacing your wipers every 6 to 12 months.
Are wiper blades sold in pairs?
Yes, most modern wiper blades are sold in pairs. However, you can also buy wiper blades separately, so it’s important that you carefully check the package before buying.