Windshield wiper blade replacement is one of the most overlooked steps in the car's maintenance. So, in today's article, we're discussing how to change a wiper blade on your vehicle and why you should do it yourself.
Learning how to change a wiper blade on your vehicle is one of those easy maintenance things every driver should know. It's an easy thing to do, and you can save a few bucks on doing it yourself instead of going to the shop. Admittedly, you won't save much, but you'll get a bit of satisfaction and self-reliance by changing them with your own hands.
We compiled a step-by-step guide on how to change a wiper blade, how often you should do it, and what tools are necessary for the job. Let's roll up the sleeves and get to it.
When should you replace your wiper blades?
Unfortunately, there's no concise rule that states when you should change your windshield wiper blades. It mostly depends on how much they've deteriorated due to consistent use and environmental conditions.
You can quickly determine when's the time for new wiper blades, even without a concise rule to guide you. Simply visually gauge the effectiveness of your windshield wiper blades while on the road. If you're having a hard time seeing anything through a windshield, it's time for new wiper blades.
The wiper blades should glide smoothly over your windshield, removing water and grime with each pass. However, if the wipers smudge the dirt and dust over your windshield instead of removing them, it means that the blades have deteriorated. They don't achieve complete contact with the windshield surface, which leads to smudging, chattering, and screeching.
Additionally, you can visually inspect the blades. If the rubber looks chipped, crooked, or worn-out, it's time to change your wiper blades. This is usually an annual occurrence, but we suggest you visually inspect your wipers every six months. Visual inspection and their effectiveness in use are the bullet-proof methods of knowing when it's time to change the wiper blades.
Note: If you looking for new wiper blades for your card then check these Michelin Wiper Blades
Tools and materials needed
There are a few tools and materials you'll need to change a wiper blade. These are as follows:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Replacement wiper blades
- Your vehicle's owner's manual
- A towel (optional)
While most wiper blades can be removed without any tools, some feature retention clips that can only be pinched using needle-nose pliers. Additionally, you want to refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for windshield wiper blade length and always keep a spare set of blades at hand.
It always pays to have a set nearby when you need it instead of making a quick purchase and ending up with the wrong model.
Steps to change a wiper blade
Now that you've got all the tools necessary, it's time to learn how to change a wiper blade. As always, we advise you proceed with patience and caution. Changing windshield wiper blades poses no physical danger to people, but a few wrong steps can cause irreparable damage to the windshield.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to change a wiper blade:
Buy a proper size wiper blade refill
Before you remove your vehicle's old wiper blades, you must have a set of new ones on hand, ready to be installed. With that said, you must buy refill wiper blades that are of the appropriate size for your vehicle model.
Wiper blades vary in length and range anywhere between 12-28". On most vehicles, the windshield's blades are actually of various sizes, with the driver's side blade being longer. Be sure to measure both blades on your vehicle before purchase to avoid any mismatches.
Mismatching blades can cause a myriad of problems for your windshield. If you mount shorter blades, your windshield will most likely suffer scratches from the wiper arms. Thinking that longer blades can't hurt is the farthest from the truth. Longer blades can't achieve proper surface contact and won't be as effective as properly-sized blades.
You can easily reference your vehicle's owner's manual to determine the appropriate length of wiper blades for your car. However, if you misplaced the owner's manual, you can always measure the blades yourself. Just make sure that you flatten the blade before taking any measurements.
Slide out the old wiper blade
Once you've got your blade refills, it's time to replace the old wiper blades with new ones. First, you must remove the deteriorated wiper blades from the wiper arms to put the new blades in place.
Begin by pulling the wiper arm back from the windshield glass. You should keep in mind that wiper arms are spring-loaded and can irreparably damage the windshield if they snap back in place. Damage is almost inevitable if the wiper arm snaps back without a wiper blade attached.
To prevent this from happening, you can secure the windshield by doubling up a bath towel over your windshield. You don't actually cover the entire windshield, just the side of the windshield you're working on. Once that is done, you can proceed to remove the blade from the wiper arm.
With the wiper arm pulled back, pivot the blade so that it positions perpendicular to the wiper arm. Next, locate the retaining clips that hold the blade attached to the arm, press them using needle-nose pliers, and slide the blade off.
Some wipers use a hooking mechanism to hold the blades, while others use retention clips, release tabs, or twist-to-lock mechanisms. Regardless of what the retention mechanism is (refer to owner's manual), once the blade is released, position it parallel to the wiper arm.
The initial instinct might be to pull the blade right off, which is wrong, and persistence will only cause damage. Instead, the blade should be parallel with the wiper arm to allow for safe and easy removal. Once the clipping mechanism is released, turn the blade, and slide it right off.
Slide in the windshield wiper blade replacement
Sliding in the new wiper blades is as straightforward and easy as removing the old ones; you just need to reverse the process. Mount the new wiper blade onto the wiper arm until you hear a clicking sound when it locks into place. If you used a bath towel, remove it and gently lower the wiper arm onto the windshield.
Now you can repeat the process for the other wiper arm. Once you've replaced both wiper blades, you can give them a test run with the wiper windshield fluid. Give your windshield a little squirt (and test the windshield water fluid pump in the process) to test out the new blades. It's always good to test them before you need them during a downpour.
Now that you've learned how to change a wiper blade, you can change them in less than 10 minutes with a bit of preparation and practice. Now stand proud for completing this DIY car maintenance, and who knows, maybe you'll be changing the oil next time it's due.