How to Replace a Windshield Wiper in 5 Easy Steps

How to Replace a Windshield Wiper in 5 Easy Steps

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Many parts of your car work in tandem to ensure your safety while you’re behind the wheel.

The brakes bring your vehicle to a secure stop, ensuring you avoid collisions with the surrounding traffic. The tires must grip all road surfaces in sunshine, rain, and snow. And the windshield wipers clear away rain and snow so that you can see the road during difficult weather conditions. 

Like many wear and tear items on your car, like brake pads or tires, windshield wipers need occasional replacement.

Although DIY windshield wiper replacement may seem like an easy task, following a specific set of steps ensures the correct fit and excellent performance. 

Here's our step-by-step guide on how to install new windshield wipers.

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How do windshield wipers work?

When there’s rain and snow, you still need to see the road. By squeegeeing away precipitation, be it a light shower, flurries, torrential downpour, or a blizzard, windshield wipers give you a clear view during hazardous weather.

Windshield wipers work in a straightforward way. An electric motor powers the wipers to pivot back and forth, clearing away moisture.

Wipers have several speed settings, each suited to specific conditions. 

For light or periodic rain or snow, the intermittent setting pauses between each cycle of the wiper blades. You can adjust the pause length for more or less wiping, depending on the weather.

During steady rain or snow, the normal setting has an even, regular pace that clears away moisture efficiently.

But when a serious storm hits, the high-speed setting has the most pivoting action to match,  clearing your view so you can continue your journey as safely as possible.

The purpose-made rubber wiper blades make direct contact with the windshield. As they degrade, you’ll need replacements. Depending on the climate where you live, most manufacturers recommend changing your wiper blades about every six months.

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How to change wiper blades:

Step 1. Have the tools

For many vehicles, windshield wiper blades secure themselves to the wiper arm via retaining clips or tabs. Simply press these down with needle-nose pliers to remove the blade.

As a precaution, use a soft towel to protect the windshield from the metal wiper arm whipping back and causing damage to the glass. 

Step 2. Purchase a new set of blades

Like tires or brake pads, specific vehicles require unique wiper blade sizes.

You can check your owner's manual for the correct size or measure your wiper blades. Your local auto parts store should have a good selection of suitable blades. 

If you're unsure which wiper blades to buy, many auto parts stores have a size chart indicating which models fit specific vehicles. A sales associate can also help select the best wiper blades for your car. You can also search online for which specific windshield wipers fit your make and model of vehicle.

Aside from size, many varieties of wiper blades are made by manufacturers like Bosch or Rain-X. 

Standard windshield wiper blades use a rubber squeegee to clear away moisture — like a squeegee used to wipe windows. Standard wiper blades are economical and effective. 

For superior performance, wiper blades with silicone squeegees are quieter, more effective, and may last twice as long (although they're more expensive than rubber wiper blades).

Winter wiper blades use extra rubber and plastic shielding to protect the wiper frame while clearing ice and snow. That shielding is critical in extreme climates. If a wiper frame freezes, the blades won't work. 

Beam wiper blades have enhanced flexibility for more efficient moisture removal. Beam wiper blades work exceptionally well on contoured windshields but may cost double that of standard blades.

Step 3. Remove old wiper blades

You'll have to remove your old windshield wiper blades before installing the new ones. Again, after folding the wiper arms away from the windshield, remember to place a towel in its place in case it whips back onto the glass. 

Next, rotate the blade so that the base points toward the top. At the end of the blade, you'll find two small retaining clips or tabs that you need to press in with your needle-nose pliers. 

Once you push them inward, use one hand to slide off the blade while the other supports the wiper arm.

Step 4. Change windshield wipers

With the towel still lying on the windshield for protection, slide the new wiper blade onto the arm until you hear a click of the small tabs snapping into place. Then slowly lower the arm back from the upright position onto the towel covering the glass. Repeat the same process for the other wiper blade.

Step 5. Test them out

With your new blades installed, it's time to give them a dry run before stormy weather hits.

While testing out your windshield wipers, ensure they make even contact with the glass and work smoothly. 

For a finishing touch, cleaning the windshield with a specialized automotive glass cleaner makes for a clean and glossy surface for the wipers to glide over. 

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Author
Shift Editorial Team