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How to Check and Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades

Published: April 2019

Windshield wipers can be an overlooked part of your car's safety system. If your wipers are not working properly, it may be difficult to see the road or other hazards when it rains or snows. Faulty wiper blades can be ineffective and even smear your windshield, potentially creating visibility issues. Some simple, regular maintenance can help ensure your wiper blades are in good shape.

Auto maintenance and repair specialist The Humble Mechanic shares tips for inspecting, changing and maintaining your car's wiper blades.

Video Transcript

Hey everybody, it's Charles from and today we are talking wiper blades.

Alright, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: Charles do I really need to watch a video about wiper blades? Well, wiper blades are a very simple, very easily replaced piece on almost every car. Yet I can't tell you how many times I've seen the little rubber dangly hanging off the back of a station wagon or off the side of a car, because the wiper blade is in such bad condition that it's actually separated. And when we see a wiper blade that that worn out, it's pretty clear that it's time for replacement. But I want to show you guys some ways to inspect your wiper blades, and in addition to that, some things you can do to prolong the life of your wiper blades so that you don't have to worry about the little dangly piece hanging off the back of your car.

The very first thing we want to do is look at how the wipers move across our windshield. Do they move nice and smooth and quiet, or are they loud, making a screeching noise, or leaving a chunk of windshield completely uncleared. If your wipers moved smooth across the windshield and aren't making any noise, they're probably okay. But if you see any spots on the windshield that aren't being cleaned by the wiper blades, it's time to inspect them to determine whether we can clean them and prolong their life or whether they need to be replaced.

Before I start a wiper inspection or replace wiper blades, I like to put the wipers in service position. Some cars have this as an option. Simply tapping down on the wiper stalk with the key off allows these wipers to move up to the full up position and that makes it easier for me to look at them, as well as replace them. On a car that doesn't do that, I'll try and time it so that when the wipers are at the full up position, I simply turn the ignition off.

One word of caution: these arms are generally spring-loaded, so you want to be careful not to leave them in the full up position while they're unattended. If something happens and the arm snaps down, there's a high likelihood that the windshield can break. What I like to do, is pull the wiper blade off the windshield a little bit and run my finger down the rubber part that touches the windshield. If I feel any deep grooves or pieces missing off the blade, there's no need to check any further. Go ahead and replace the wiper blade.

If it feels like it's just dirty, taking your favorite glass cleaner and a rag and cleaning the blade may help prolong the wiper blades' life. What we can do is clean both of the blades then run them again to see how they perform.

Waiting too long to replace your wiper blades is not only a safety issue, because now you're not able to see as well, it can actually cause more damage to your car. I've seen wipers worn so bad, to the point where the windshield needed to be replaced due to the wiper cutting into the glass, and we surely don't want to wait that long to replace our wiper blades.

When it comes to choosing a new wiper blade, there's always the option to buy them at the dealership, and the good thing about these, is they're going to be made specifically for your car. You can also look at a universal application. You just want to make sure that fits your vehicle properly. Some vehicles have a very unique curvature of the windshield, so you want to install the blades and look at how they sit on the glass. If there's any portion of the blade that doesn't touch the glass, then it's really not going to be the best wiper blade for your specific application. We also want to look and make sure that it's not hitting either one of the "A" pillars that line the outsides of the windshield.

There's numerous ways that wiper blades install onto the wiper arm. Some have a tiny retention clip; others simply rotate and then slide on and off. No matter how the wiper is installed onto the wiper arm, you really want to make sure that it's done properly. I've actually seen wiper blades come off of cars, again, causing damage to a windshield. Many auto manufacturers recommend replacing your wiper blades about every six months. Of course, you want to refer to your vehicle's owner's manual to make sure that you're doing it at the right time. But, inspecting your wiper blades about every quarter is a really good idea. And while you're doing that inspection, go ahead and give them a quick clean, that may help prolong the life of the wiper blade.

This is also a great opportunity to go ahead and top off the windshield washer fluid in your car to make sure that you don't run out at the worst possible time. In addition to inspecting and cleaning the wiper blades once a quarter, another great tip is to keep the windshield clean. Bugs and grime and dirt can actually wear your wiper blades out faster. Also, using your wiper blades to clean ice from your windshield will almost guarantee your wiper blades to wear out faster. So use the ice scraper, not your wipers, to clean the ice off your windshield.

Alright everybody, I'm going to wrap it up there. If you have wiper blade questions or comments, put it down in the comment section below. If you want to see more of my videos, head over to and check them out there. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter Instagram and, of course, on Snapchat. Alright guys, thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.

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Inspect Your Wipers Regularly

Wiper blades are made out of rubber that can wear out even with limited use. The blades should be inspected regularly and replaced, if needed, about every six months, says Consumer Reports. If your blades are cracked, torn or heavily worn, they might not grip the windshield properly and not fully remove mud, rain, sleet or snow. Wiper blades can take a beating during winter months, and since conditions and vehicles can vary, you may consider checking your vehicle's owner's manual and the information that comes with your wiper blades for guidance.

Replace Your Wiper Blades

Changing your wiper blades is typically a simple task. If you're not confident about your skills, it may be a good idea to leave it to the professionals — it's often done when you take your car in for an oil change. But, if you want to do it yourself, provides these steps:

  1. Determine the blade size. Measure the wiper blade length or check your car's owner's manual for the correct blade size.
  2. Remove the old wiper. Lift the wiper arm away from the windshield and depress the small tab on the underside of the wiper where it meets the wiper arm. Slide the wiper blade off the arm by pulling downward.
  3. Attach the new wiper blade. Pull the wiper blade tight onto the arm. You will hear a clicking sound when it locks into place. Lower the arm slowly back onto the windshield and repeat this process on the other wiper arm.
  4. Test. Run the wipers to see if they are working properly. It's better to do it now instead of finding out they aren't installed correctly during the middle of a downpour.

Taking these simple steps can help make sure your wipers are working efficiently and help maximize your visibility for safer driving.

Related Resources:

Our pages are filled with helpful tips and information about the topics that most of us face in our everyday lives. We focus on safety and maintenance issues with regard to your home, auto, apartment, motorcycle, boat, small business, finances and more. Please recognize that a particular tip may not be effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate for you and your property and always consider safety.
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