When you’re behind the wheel, nothing is more important than good visibility. But like most other drivers, I usually wait too long to change my windshield wipers. Wipers should be replaced every six months, especially if you park outside and live in the desert or other dusty conditions.
Your wiper assembly has three basic parts: the lower wiper arm that protrudes from the hood, the wiper blade that attaches to the wiper arm, and the rubber fill that wipes the glass. The thin rubber lead is the part that will eventually break in extreme weather conditions, dust, and dirt.
Most of the time you can simply replace the wiper refill as we show here in this article on how to change wiper blades.
However, the blade can also become weak and lose its tension against the glass, or even bend slightly through ice and snow. If you have chatter issues or if the entire blade is not making contact with the windshield, replace the entire blade. Installing the wiper blades only takes a minute. It’s a good idea to replace the entire blade (sold with refills) every two years.
Tip: You can keep your windshield wipers working longer and more efficiently if you clean your windshield every time you fill it up. Also, wipe the entire rubber insert with a damp rag to remove dirt.
When Should You Replace Your Wiper Blades?
The easiest way to tell if you need new wiper blades is to simply gauge their effectiveness when being used on the road. Are the wipers leaving the windshield (or at least the areas covered by the blades) just as wet and/or dirty as it started? Is there some film/grime left over after each pass of the blades?
When it’s raining or snowing and your wipers are in use, do you find yourself needing to watch the road through one tiny spot of the windshield that’s been successfully cleared? If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, it’s time for new blades.
You’ll also know if your wipers need replacing if they make a chattering noise and don’t smoothly glide across the glass. And finally, you can do a visual inspection. If the rubber looks worn or cracked, it’s time for a change. This usually happens annually, though it can more or less depend on how often you use them and the environment you’re in.
Ultimately, if your wipers aren’t doing their job anymore and you’re having a hard time seeing the road in the midst of rain and snow showers, change ’em out.
How to Change Wiper Blades?
1. Remove new blades from the packaging and have them at the ready. The wiper arm is metal, and when you remove the old blade, it’s best to have the new one ready right away so you can immediately replace it. You don’t have to want to have to fiddle with packaging and have your wiper arm fall or be knocked onto your windshield, possibly scratching or cracking it. That’s not terribly likely, but it is possible.
2. Lift the wiper, turn the blade perpendicular to the arm, and locate the release tab.
Not all wipers will have this release tab. On some, you’ll simply turn the blade perpendicular, and pull down.
3. Press the tab and pull the blade down. Your instinct might be to yank up; don’t do that. You won’t damage anything; it’s just not going to get your blade off.
4. Next, turn the blade parallel to the arm, and pull it off. It’s that easy! Seriously.
From here, it easily slides off (to the right).
5. Repeat this process, in reverse, to install the new blade. Start parallel to the arm, thread it into the slot, then turn it perpendicular, and finally pull it slightly up to lock it in place. You should hear some sort of audible click, or at least feel that it’s snapped in, to confirm that the blade is now properly installed.
The new blade. This one has a swiveling part that the hook latches into. How the blade actually snaps into place might be different from your old one; don’t worry, I’d never done it before and figured it out just fine.
6. Test out with windshield wiper fluid. Give your windshield a squirt and test out the new blades. Then, be impressed with yourself, and slightly embarrassed that you’ve never done this incredibly simple DIY car maintenance task before. (Yes, I’m talking to myself here.)
How Much does a Wiper Blade Replacement Cost?
The average cost for a windshield wiper blade replacement is between $23 and $38. Labor costs are estimated between $8 and $12 while parts are priced between $15 and $26. The estimate does not include taxes and fees.