Replacing Windshield Wipers: How & How Often?
Of all the maintenance we think of when it comes to our vehicle, maintaining your windshield wipers is more than likely pretty low on that list. It doesn’t offer much in the way of aesthetic benefits, and it seems like such a minor task that it’s often overlooked. But the reality is that most of us know that maintaining the condition of our wipers and changing them regularly is pretty important!
In this blog post we’ll walk you through why you should care about your windshield wipers, when to know it’s time to replace them, and how to change them yourself.
Benefits of Maintaining & Changing Your Windshield Wipers
Outside of simply avoiding the headache of having streaky and squeaky wiper blades, there are two major benefits to making sure your wipers are maintained properly and changed on a regular basis:
Your wipers are the one tool you rely on to make sure your windshield is kept clean while you’re out on the road. Whether you’re driving in some serious rain or the roads are covered in mud or slush, having old, worn-out wiper blades makes it hard to see the road. This is not only a hassle but can be a major safety hazard and could even lead to an accident if you’re not careful! It’s better to address windshield wiper issues right away rather than risk finding yourself in a potentially dangerous situation on the road.
Increased lifetime of any windshield protection film or coating products installed on your windshield
With the rising cost of windshield replacement these days, many of us are opting for products like windshield protection film to help preserve the windshield. While a high-quality film will resist more significant scratching from wiper blades, wipers that are especially dirty or worn out will start to introduce micro-scratches into the surface of the film, which will decrease visibility over time. One of the best ways to increase the lifetime of these protective film products is to keep your wipers clean and in good condition.
If your wiper blades are still in great condition and just need to be cleaned, simply take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the blades with some soapy water. This will remove any stuck-on dirt or debris that can reduce the windshield wiper's performance.
When To Replace Windshield Wipers
Just like changing the oil in your engine, you should think of changing your wiper blades as a regular maintenance item for your vehicle.
A good rule of thumb is that windshield wipers should be replaced every six months to one year. That being said, here are some of the telltale signs to watch out for that could mean your wipers need a change:
If you notice your wipers are leaving behind streaks, it’s probably time to replace them. Streaking could mean that the rubber portion on the wiper blade has been worn down, causing it to drag across the glass. This generally worsens over time and can happen unexpectedly, leaving you with limited visibility the next time your caught driving in the rain. Once your wipers are at this stage, the best thing you can do is replace them with a fresh set!
When your wipers aren’t able to make proper contact with the windshield, the result is that they leave behind sections of the glass that don’t get cleaned. You’ll probably notice that it doesn’t sound like the wipers are running smoothly across your windshield anymore. This can affect your visibility and usually indicates that the windshield wipers must be replaced. Skipping is typically caused by wear and tear and a damaged or hardened rubber unit.
If you hear loud noises caused by the movement of your windshield wipers, then it is probably time to replace them. Many factors can cause these noises, though the general culprits are damaged or hardened rubber units due to weathering or units that are misshapen. Occasionally you’ll find that part of the rubber portion was out of place, in which case you should be able to easily pop it back in place and continue to use this set of wipers. It’s a good idea to check this before going to the trouble of replacing them!
How to Change Windshield Wipers
Fortunately, changing your windshield wipers is one of the more straightforward maintenance tasks and can easily be done at home! Usually, there will be detailed instructions included with your new set of wipers, but if it’s your first time, here are the basic steps you can expect to follow:
Selecting Your New Windshield Wiper Blades
A visit your local auto parts store or a google search should help you find wiper blades that are compatible for your vehicle. The important thing here is to remember that wiper blades are specific to every vehicle, so you’ll want to select the proper size according to your vehicle's make and model. In some cases the sizes for the right and left wiper blades is also different, so be sure to double check before you purchase!
How to Remove Old Windshield Wiper Blades
Lift the wiper’s arm away from your windshield and locate the small tab where the wiper blade connects to the arm. Press down on the tab and slowly peel the blade off the arm, making sure not to drop it onto the windshield.
How to Install Windshield Wipers Yourself
Align the new wiper blade with the arm and slide it into place until you hear a clicking noise. This is confirmation that the new blade unit was installed correctly and is safe to use. Before putting it down onto the windshield, make sure it is aligned with the arm it rests on.
Test Them Out!
After repeating the same process for the other windshield wiper, it’s a good idea to test them before you’re out on the road. Check for any signs of streaking, skipping, or squeaking, which could indicate they haven’t been installed properly. If everything looks good, then you’re all set and ready to roll!
Replacing your windshield wipers is an integral part of vehicle maintenance that can help keep you safe on the road. Knowing when to replace your wipers and how to change them ensures that your windshield is always clear and your view of the road ahead is unobstructed.
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