When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, and head out on the road, there is nothing more important than good, clear, unobstructed visibility. Unfortunately, many drivers forget the one maintenance routine that could lead to disastrous consequences should it be neglected and they encounter weather – your windshield wipers.
It’s easy to let the changing of your wiper blades go untouched and unnoticed for long periods of time, especially during the dryer seasons when they may not be in use, but also if you leave your car sitting idle in dry, dusty places. That’s why you must routinely check to see that they are working to their fullest ability, and learn to change them yourself should you find them lacking. As a rule-of-thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Fortunately, the process of changing them couldn’t be easier.
Windshield Wiper Assembly
Windshield wipers are made of three basic parts: the lower wiper arm, the blade that attaches to the arm, and the rubber refill (the part that looks like the end of a squeegee) that wipes the windshield. The rubber refill is the part that requires regular changing, as it can break down over time with exposure to weather conditions. More often than not, this is the only part that you’ll need to change, and it’s a quick and easy fix.
However, it is worth noting that the blade itself can also become weak or loose over time. If your wipers are being used in extreme weather conditions, like snow and ice, they can even bend, losing tension against the glass. If it gets too bad, and you find that the entire blade isn’t making contact with your windshield, then it’s time to replace the whole thing. But, again, it’s a quick and easy fix. It’s good practice to replace the whole blade every two years.
Tools for Replacement
Before you start disassembling and reassembling your wiper blades, have all of your necessary tools and materials laid out and ready for use. You will need:
- A pair of needle-nose pliers
- A towel
- Rubber wiper refills
When you go to an auto parts store to buy your wiper refills, it’s important to make sure that you’re buying the proper size. To determine the size that you’ll need, simply measure your wiper blade refills to get the exact replacement length. It’s a smart idea to take the measuring tape with you into the store, as well, to double check. Also, don’t assume that both refill inserts are the same length on your car. Often, one side is an inch or more longer than the other.
Changing Your Wiper Refills
Now that you have all of your tools and replacements ready, follow these two simple steps to replace your refills:
- Step 1: Slide out the old refill – Pull the wiper arm back from the windshield, and lay the towel over the glass just in case the arm slips and snaps back against it. Pivot the blade so that the bottom of the blade flips up toward the top. Look for the small, shiny retaining clips near the end of the refill. Use your needle-nose pliers to pinch them together, and slide out the refill.
- Step 2: Slide in the new refill – Carefully slide the new refill (the one that matches in size) onto the same end that you pulled old one from, and make sure that it’s held between each clamp. Once in place, check that the retaining clips click into place in the last clamp. Then, pivot the arm back into position, release it and repeat the process on the other side.
That’s all there is to it! It really is that simple, so next time you start to notice a change in your visibility when you turn those wipers on, don’t wait. Take action right away, and replace those wiper blades. Trust us, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry, especially when out on the road.