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How to Change Windshield Wipers in 7 Steps

man holding windshield wipers

Wiper blades are rarely anyone’s primary concern when they think about their vehicle’s performance, but that doesn’t make them any less vital. When you let your blades wither and deteriorate, visibility will suffer, as will your safety. At a certain point, they could become so worn down that you can’t even drive your car!

car and road dividerHow to Change Windshield Wipers in 7 Steps

Checking your windshield wipers and replacing worn blades is a critical vehicle maintenance task, and it’s likely one that you don’t perform often enough. We’ll detail the seven simple steps you can take to replace your wiper blades when the time comes to help you keep yourself and your passengers safe.

1. Check the Condition of Your Wiper Blades

Streaks and skipping are telltale signs of a replacement-ready windshield wiper, but you should first check it for cleaning opportunities. If the blades are in good condition but leave streaks across the windshield, try cleaning them with a clean cloth and mild detergent or diluted isopropyl alcohol. But when your wipers are damaged, falling apart, squeaking, or chattering across the windshield, they will need replacements immediately.

red car with a windshield wiper
Image Credit: max tokarev, Unsplash

2. Find the Correct Blade Size

Wiper blades come in several sizes, shapes, and styles, so only a limited number will work for your particular vehicle. There are many easy ways to find the appropriate blade for your make and model:

  • Use an online auto part retailer’s windshield wiper sizing tool
  • Reference your vehicle’s manual
  • Measure the size of your current wiper blades
  • Visit your local auto parts store and use their reference system

Check the size of both windshield wipers before buying replacements. One side may be an inch or two shorter, and using the wrong size could damage your blades or your vehicle’s trim.


3. Lay a Towel on Your Windshield

Your windshield wiper blades attach to a metal wiper arm. The wiper arm is on a spring-loaded hinge that holds it against your windshield. You’ll need to raise the arm on its hinge to an upright position to remove the old wiper and install the new one. But if the arm snaps back down accidentally, it could damage the windshield or the frame around it.

Prevent damage by using a towel or other soft barrier. Lift the metal arm, and lay the towel down where it will land if the spring activates.

Hybrid Blade Windshield Wipers
Image Credit: Stason4ik, Shutterstock

4. Remove the Old Wiper Blade

Most wiper blades attach to the metal arm via a J-hook or pin connectors. New cars may have a visible tab that you can release with your fingers or a flat head screwdriver. Unhook the latch and slide the wiper off of the hook.

Other wipers may have a clip that locks into a hole on the end of the J-hook. Turn the wiper perpendicular to the arm and release the clip. Then, pull the wiper down and out of the hook.


5. Check the Arms

Before installing the new wiper, lay it down alongside your old wiper on the hood of your car to make sure they are the same size.

Beam Blade Windshield wiper
Image Credit: noPPonPat, Shutterstock

6. Attach the New Wiper

Install the new wiper by sliding the J-hook into the latch on the wiper. Pull the wiper up into the hook until you hear an audible click, and press the tab back into place.

While the blades are up, take the opportunity to clean your windshield with a microfiber cloth and glass cleaner. Then, remove the towel, orient the wiper in the proper direction, and carefully lower it by hand onto the windshield.


7. Test the Wipers

Test your wiper blades to ensure they work correctly and clean the entire windshield. Spray some water or use your wiper fluid to help you see if there are any streaky spots or separations between the wiper and the windshield. If they clean the windshield and  don’t hit your car frame, you’re all set!

Conventional windshield wiper_CharlesLoyer_Unsplash
Image Credit: Charles Loyer, Unsplash

divider 4How Often Should I Change My Wiper Blades?

Wiper blades don’t have a specific expiration on them, and their lifespan can vary based on their style and the climate in which you drive. Conventional blades with a separate metal bridge holding a rubber squeegee typically only last six months, while modern beam blades will last for about a year.

UV rays and abrasive materials like dirt, dust, and ice can speed up the wear on your windshield wipers. You will likely need to replace them frequently if you live in a harsh, cold climate. You can prolong your wiper blades’ life by keeping them clean and regularly washing your windshield.

How Much Do Wiper Blades Cost?

Wiper blades are inexpensive at $12–$20 per blade. You can commonly find high-quality beam blades in packs of two for under $50.

car and road dividerFinal Thoughts

New windshield wipers are cheap and easy to install for even the most novice DIYer, so there’s no reason to put off installing them when the time comes. Worn wipers present a severe safety hazard, and the last thing you need is to be caught in weather that your blades won’t be able to handle. It’s a small investment, but the visible difference a new wiper blade makes is one of the most satisfying upgrades you can make to your vehicle today.


Featured Image Credit: admin_design, Shutterstock

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