If you’re not taking proper care of your windshield wipers, you could be putting yourself at risk when driving in a low visibility situation. Just like your oil, transmission fluid, and brake pads, you must replace your windshield wipers periodically to maintain optimal performance. However, drivers often overlook them.
“Windshield wipers are probably number one or very close to number one on my list of the items that are easiest to ignore or forget about when it comes to routine maintenance on an automobile,” says Richard Reina, product training director and automotive enthusiast at CARiD, an online auto parts store. In this article, Reina tells us how often you should replace your wiper blades, the signs you need new ones, and how to replace them. Learn more car maintenance tips.
Signs that you need new wiper blades
It may sound obvious, but if your windshield wipers aren’t doing a good job of clearing rain or snow from your windshield, it’s time to get a new pair.
According to Reina, not everyone is aware of the signs that wipers are no longer doing their job because the wear is subtle and occurs over time. He recommends replacing windshield wipers twice a year — in the spring to prepare for the hot summer and fall to prepare for the cold winter — instead of waiting for them to wear out. “They’re just too important when it comes to safety and your visibility,” he says.
Choosing the right windshield wipers
Conventional blades are typically less expensive. However, they sometimes trap snow and ice on the frame assembly, inhibiting windshield cleaning when driving in winter weather.
Snow and ice are less likely to accumulate on beam-style blades. According to Reina, they put more pressure on the glass, leading to better cleaning, but they typically cost more.
How to replace windshield wipers
Before you head to the store to pick up a pair of replacement blades, measure the length of the wipers on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides of the vehicle. They’re probably not the same length, says Reina. You can also look up your car’s make and model online, and auto parts stores also have manuals to look up this information.
To change windshield wiper blades, Reina recommends removing the blades one at a time when replacing the old wiper blades with new wiper blades so you can look at the one you haven’t removed for example.
Here’s how to put wiper blades on a car:
- Lift the wiper arm, which is the part you don’t replace. It holds the blade assembly, the part you do replace. The wiper arm will swing away from the glass. Move it outward so it’s easier to work with.
- Look for a button or plastic cap where the wiper arm and blade assembly meet.
- Push the button or release the cap, grab the blade assembly with two hands, and push it down, so it’s parallel to the wiper arm.
- You’ll see a J-hook. Move the blade assembly away from the inside of the J-hook until you find an opening in the frame assembly that allows you to slide the blade off the wiper arm.
- Once the old blade assembly is off, put the new one on by passing it over the J-hook.
- Slide it back toward the J-hook so the whole frame assembly snaps into place.
- Repeat with the other blade.
Many wiper blade assemblies include extra plastic attachment pieces. On some vehicles, you may need to replace that as well. Reina recommends referring to the instruction pamphlet that comes with the blades for guidance when replacing windshield wipers. Usually, there are several illustrations, and he says you can match the picture in the instructions to what’s on your car. If you don’t feel up for the challenge, you can always take your car to an auto shop for windshield wiper blade replacement.
Don’t forget about your rear windshield wiper. Reina says you don’t need to replace it as often as you need to replace your front windshield wipers, but he still recommends replacing it at least once a year.
Understanding the importance of windshield wiper maintenance is essential to driving safely. Now, you can discover whether car insurance covers windshield damage.