How Often Should I Change My Windshield Wipers?
Getting caught in the rain without functioning windshield wipers is potentially hazardous; and if you live somewhere where it snows, it is outright impossible to cruise the highways without the elements wreaking havoc on your visibility. If your view is impeded while driving, it could easily cause an accident. Although windshield wipers are made to withstand extreme weather conditions, they still become fragile and can lose functionality.
If your windshield wipers aren’t clearing your view of the road from rain, sleet or snow, that’s a problem. Common signs of faulty windshield wipers include smudges or water streaks left behind on your windshield glass, meaning the system is no longer making complete contact with the glass. If the wipers have started to vibrate across the glass like they are tripping over themselves, it’s time to replace them. If you notice any sun damage, bending, cracking, tears or if you see new scratches on your windshield glass, your wiper blade might be heavily worn. Inspect your wider blades often to minimize the chances of finding yourself unprepared in sudden, inclement weather.
Some windshield wipers are season-specific, so if you live somewhere where all seasons are prominent, you may consider changing the blades according to the weather. Winter wiper blades have an extra layer of rubber protection, a rubber boot and a flexible squeegee blade, which helps prevent freezing and strengthens the wipe to clear your windshield from heavy snow and freezing rain. Whereas summer windshield wipers perform better in warmer conditions and come engineered to glide across the glass, clearing away liquid, dirt and dust.
Failing wiper arms are bad news, but usually don’t need replacing as frequently as the actual wiper blade, so if you cannot tell whether or not you need a new set, make sure to contact a NAPA technician near you. The NAPA experts recommend renewing wiper blades every six months and replacing wiper arms as often as needed throughout the years. Thankfully, windshield wiper arms and blades are easy to replace, and it is an inexpensive DIY project to complete.
Thankfully, windshield wiper arms and blades are easy to replace, but correct wiper sizing may vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. First, measure the length of your wiper blade so that you can purchase its respective size on NAPAOnline. Your vehicle’s owner manual also houses this information. It’s important to note that changing the windshield wiper arm and blade is not the same as replacing the windshield wiper motor or switch.
The most common wiper blades are traditional/conventional, aero/hybrid or flat/beam blades and they range in size. NAPA sells windshield wiper blades as short as 8 inches and as long as 40 inches, so you are sure to find the right fit. The most common wiper blade connectors are the hook-slot, pin-type and straight-end system installation type.
When changing out the blade part of a windshield wiper, lift the wipers perpendicular to your windshield and keep them upright using the base locking tab. Then use the connector-specific method to remove the blade. You can apply a small amount of anti-seize lubricant at this point for easy reassembly, but this step isn’t always necessary. Install the new blade and lower your wiper arms. Then perform a test to ensure the wipers are functioning properly. If you see the blade is slipping, firmly seat the connection between the arm and the blade.
Note that some wiper arms are spring-loaded. Therefore, don’t let the wiper arm swing back once you remove the wiper blade because it could damage your windshield. You can err on the safe side and lay a towel or some cardboard onto your windshield glass before proceeding with the windshield wiper removal.
If you need to remove the whole wiper arm portion from your windshield, you must dislodge the nuts and bolts. With the nuts and bolts removed, you can lift the wiper arm away 90 degrees from the windshield, adjusting it until it comes free from the shaft. If this step is not easy, you will need the wiper arm puller tool.
You can do a few things to make the DIY process smoother, such as having a wrench and socket tool on hand. Remove any press-on cover cap that hides the nut bolt in the wiper arm and lubricate the joint that holds the system onto your windshield.
How to Take Better Care of Your Wiper Arm Blades
Taking care of your windshield wipers is possibly an afterthought; however, considering how much of a lifesaver they are in inclement weather, it’s worth knowing a few tips.
Find yourself living in conditions where it snows a lot or gets below freezing? A windshield cover will go a long way by pulling the wipers up and away from the windshield overnight, saving you precious defrosting time in the morning.
Use an ice scraper before turning on your windshield wipers and remove winter road salt from your wiper arms and blades once things heat up to decrease natural corrosion. Because wipers handle a lot of grime, salt and dust, if they go uncleaned, the gunk can impede how well they can clean. Make sure to clear away any big branches, leaves, monster-sized bugs or roadkill before engaging your windshield wipers.
Additionally, keep windshield wiper fluid filled up plus always have glass cleaner in the car in case you get caught on the open road with faulty wiper blades and need to clean your glass before driving.
Remember, going to a car wash can also damage your windshield wipers, especially if the equipment is too rough. Ensure you are protected and don’t turn on your windshield wipers without any liquid like mud, slush, rain or windshield wiper fluid on the glass.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.