August 30, 2012 by quirkyuncle
Windshield wiper replacement is an cheap and easy task that you can perform in a just few minutes without tools. If your wipers are streaking and cleaning the blades (wiping them off) does not solve the problem, then it’s time to replace them.
Time: 15 minutes
Wiper blade design has become fairly standardized, so this procedure should work for most newer vehicles. Replacement of most other blade designs is equally straight forward and should also be easy to accomplish. Unlike a few years ago, blades are now sold attached to their carriers, so there’s a lot less involved to replacing them.
Not all blades are created equal!
The first step is getting your replacement parts. These can be purchased online, from your local auto parts store, or at some of the general merchandise retailers. Auto parts stores can assist you in choosing the correct blades for your vehicle and needs. Many will also install them at no charge (especially if you go in when they’re not busy).
Here is some information to help you choose your replacement wiper blades:
- Size – Each vehicle uses a specific blade length. Most use the same size on both the driver and passenger sides, but some are different. The rear blades found on some vehicles are typically shorter. Most retailers have guides near the blades that will help you choose the correct blade length.
- Quality – Most of your basic replacement blades do the job quite well. I’ve purchased the cheapest and some of the better ones for a couple bucks more and all perform adequately. All need to be replaced about once a year, unless you grind them up sooner on icy windshields during the winter. There are a couple things that have given me trouble with the cheaper blades that I do look out for: stiffeners and the material that the blade carriers are made from.
The stiffener helps the blade keep its shape and hold it against the glass. Metal stiffeners, the silver line running the length of the blade seen on the right, do a much better job.
The blade carrier also helps the blade keep its shape and hold it against the glass. Better blade carriers are made of metal, as seen in the lower image. Plastic carrier components get brittle in cold weather and can fail, and put permanent scratches in your windshield.
- Fancy blades – There are a number of fancier blades out there that are proportedly of enhanced design. Being fully satisfied with the normal wiper blades (and inherently cheap), I’ve never considered it worth twice the price to have fancy blades on my cars. If you decide to buy them and find them awesome, let me know!
Let’s put them in!
Now that you have your new blade replacements, you’re ready to install them.
- Lift the blade arms away from the glass and rotate them until they stop.
Most vehicles will let you do this when the blades are in the parked (off) position. if you can’t rotate the because the rear edge of the hood is in the way. Turn the wipers on and shut off the ignition key when they are pointed straight up. You should be able, to lift and rotate them if you do this.
- Verify that the new blades are the same length as the old ones.
- Press the release clip that holds the blade carrier to the blade arm.
- while holding the release clip, slide the blade carrier out of the the blade arm.
- Extract the old blade carrier out of the blade arm – it takes some wiggling and jiggling. Remember how it came out – it’ll help when you go to put the new one in.
- Insert the new blade carrier into the blade arm – it goes in the same way the old one came out.
- Align the new blade carrier with loop in the blade arm.
- Slide the new blade carrier into the loop in the blade arm until it clicks in place.
- Rotate the blade arms until the blades are back on the glass.
You’re done! Go find some rain!
Helping your new wiper blades last
To help your blades last longer, wipe them clean periodically and pull out any debris that collects between them and the glass. Dirt and debris warps the blade edge, causing streaks.
You can enchance the effectiveness of your wipers and run them less, by applying Rain-X to your glass. Make sure you follow the instructions to remove the haze and streaks before you drive the vehicle.
(Updated 9 September 2012 to add tools/time/difficulty.)