One of the most commonly neglected maintenance items on cars are windshield wipers. They’re something most people just don’t think about until it starts to rain or snow. When you need them, the little pieces of rubber are absolutely vital, which is why you should be more aware of when then need to be swapped out, as well as how to change windshield wipers.
Signs of Old Windshield Wipers: Streaks on the Windshield
Your car can sit out in all sorts of conditions, from the baking heat of the sun in the summer, to sub-freezing temperatures in the winter. These environmental factors cause the rubber wiper blades to age, cracking the rubber and even causing it to pit.
You can tell when to replace windshield wiper blades because they will start to leave streaks on the glass. It starts out small, so pay attention and considering swapping them out early.
There is a possibility the streaking is from dirt or grime buildup on the blades. Clean them off with a cloth to see if that does the trick. If not, you need to go ahead and replace the wiper blades.
Old Windshield Wipers Can Cause Strange Noises
Another sign that you need to thing about replacing the windshield wipers is if they start making weird sounds. Any kind of squealing, slapping, grinding or chattering noises indicate you need to swap out the blades immediately. Ignoring these signs could cause the arms that hold the blades against the windshield to start rubbing against the glass. Considering they’re made of metal, you’re risking permanent damage to the windshield.
Once the rubber starts to age, it’s only a matter of time before the wipers don’t do their job very well at all. Trying to see through a streaked windshield is pretty difficult, and definitely dangerous. Rather than take that kind of a risk, it’s best to just replace the blades early. You can even keep a spare set in your garage or tool shed so they are ready to go once it’s time to install new ones. If you stop by a store when the weather is bad, often the wiper selection is pretty sparse because many people procrastinate replacing them.
How to Change Windshield Wipers
When you buy replacement windshield wipers, you absolutely must get the correct size. Stores will have guides you can use to look up the size wiper blades your vehicle needs. Take your time and make sure you’re grabbing the correct replacements, otherwise you’ll be right back at the store buying more.
Some people like to turn on the car and activate the wipers, turning off the engine once the blades reach the highest point on the windshield. If your wipers are difficult to reach when down all the way, this tip can really come in handy. If not, you don’t have to sweat it.
How to change windshield wipers:
- Start with the replacement process by pulling the wiper arms up and away from the windshield. It pays to study how the old wiper blades are positioned on the arms before you continue. You can even take a picture of them, just in case. To pull off the old blades, push down on the plastic tab where the blades connect to the arms, then pull the center portion of the blade toward the bottom portion of the arm. This removes the blade completely.
- Depending on your vehicle, you might need to use an adapter that’s included with the blades, so they fit on the wiper arms correctly. The instructions included with the wipers will indicate how to tell if you need the adapters or not. You can also look at your vehicle owner’s manual, which should also show if a special adapter is needed. If yours needs the alternate connector, it only releases if you insert a small flathead screwdriver under the connecting pin, lifting it up.
- Take your new wiper blade and line up the plastic clip on it with the hooked end of the wiper arm. This is where remembering the exact orientation of the old blade comes in handy. As you pull the wiper blade onto the arm, you should hear a clicking sound. That means the blade is secure in its place. At this point you just need to lower the arm so the new wiper blade is touching the glass.
- Repeat the same process for the other wiper arm.