Replacing Your Windshield Wipers

Although we swear to ourselves not to wait until the next hurricane, rain storm, or blizzard to realize we need new wipers, we usually do. Inevitably, we're just trying to get home from a long day at the office when a sudden downpour starts; we fire up the wipers and they can't clear the water.

There we are squinting through the blurry windshield trying to make out the radar blip of distant taillights, cursing ourselves for not changing the wipers the last time we said we were going to.

If you get your oil changed regularly, you're probably in good shape. Service stations check the wipers for you.

But, if you're a do-it-yourselfer, then you just might let the wipers deteriorate to rubber bits until the day you need them.

To prevent this frustration, the next time you're at a gas station or auto parts store, pick up a couple of replacements to have on hand. Depending on what part of the county you are in, the rubber wiper portions generally only last six months to one year.

And just because you live in a region country where it barely drips rain, do not be misled into thinking your wipers are immortal. They aren't. The sun is bakes and cracks them into oblivion. Plus, if you use your wipers to constantly clear road gunk from the windshield, those bits of debris that are seeming tossed to the wayside slowly eat away at the wipers.

If you do have a pair of wipers handy, they are easy to change. You can opt to switch out only the rubber portion of the blade that squeegees the windshield, but in most cases you'll change the whole blade. The entire gadget consists of an arm and a blade. The blade directly attaches to the arm, and is comprised of a mount and the metal-covered-by-rubber slab.

Before you purchase refill blades or replacement rubber strips, either check the length with a tape measure or look in the manual for the proper size (usually they range from 16-21 inches). Also, your local auto parts store should have manuals that match up every car ever manufactured with a correct replacement.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Wipers

  • Windshield streaking
  • Windshield smearing
  • Wiper screeching
  • Wiper is brittle with rubber flaking off at the touch
  • Wiper is frayed

Tools for the Change

  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Needle-nose pliers

Three Types of Wiper-Arm Mounts

Hook Slot Connector―This type of blade is the easiest to change. Bring the arm to a right angle and search out the flap that attaches the wiper in the slot. Either push it in or unlatch it. One way or the other will release the blade and allow you to pull it out. If it poses any difficulty, tug it with pliers. Insert the new wiper and slide it along the slot until you feel or hear it snap into place.

Pin Type Arm― Basically uses the same concept of the hook-slot arm, except you will see a pin rather than a tab. Press on the pin from behind the blade or lift the pin out (most likely will entail the use of a screwdriver). Jiggle the blade until it fully releases. Lock the new blade into the pins.

Straight-End Connector―Changing this type can be a drag, because it tends to be more difficult. If there is a notch or tab that secures the blade, you only need to release it using your screwdriver. Pull the blade out and install the new one by sliding it in and locking it.

This is the simplified version. The other involves having to deal with screws the size of ants that hold the blade in. Take out the screws to remove the old blade and install the new one. Note that the screws are fragile so take it easy when securing them.

Now that your new wiper blades are in place, you should be able to have a clear view of the road ahead―regardless of the weather.

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