Everything You Need to Know About Wiper Blades
Posted on February 2, 2022
Sometimes an invention is so basic, so purposeful, so necessary, that we barely give it any thought - until it fails us that is. You may have been there, in a snowstorm while salt and slush is being thrown on your windshield from the truck ahead of you and when you go to spray your wiper fluid, all your blades do is streak the mess around and you are now on the highway with almost no visibility; or perhaps you’ve driven into an unexpected torrential downpour only to notice your windshield wiper blades are making the worst screeching sound just adding to the pounding headache you have from straining your eyes to see through the storm.
As I am certain you have gathered, our next topic is everything you should know about your wiper blades. Maybe you didn’t think you needed to know all that much, but with such an integral component to your (almost) everyday drive, it is important to at least know the basics.
Let’s go over some of the most common questions regarding windshield wipers:
How often should you change your wiper blades?
Most vehicle and parts manufacturers suggest replacement every 6-12 months - while things like weather, mileage, and blade material can also impact the lifespan of your wiper blades. A great practice is to check/change your blades at each oil change (your mechanic should already be doing this if you take your vehicle for service) and/or consider a seasonal reminder like Spring or Fall.
How can I tell if my windshield wipers should be replaced?
If you aren’t planning on replacing your wiper blades on a schedule as recommended above, you might be wondering what the signs are that you need to replace them based on wear and tear.
When they are no longer working very well: if your wipers are leaving streaks and/or wet spots they are past their prime
Squeaking noises even when the windshield is wet. While it may be normal to hear a mild squeak if you run your wipers on a dry windshield, wipers should glide without sound on a wet surface
Vibration or jerking: when your blades are on if they are bouncing there is damage to the material
Is there any way to extend the life of your windshield wipers?
Although they are not high-cost items, because of the potential frequency of requiring replacement, here are some maintenance tips to prolong the life of your wiper blades:
- Keep your windshield clean: use a squeegee to clean larger messes from your windshield and scape/melt ice from your windshield instead of attempting to use your wiper blades to remove the ice - for comprehensive advice on how to do this, see this article about de-icing your windshield.
- Clean the blades: use a soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol to wipe any build-up from your blades
What's the best windshield wiper fluid?
There is a wide variety of windshield wiper fluid available out there and for a simple spray that just gets wiped off, you may be thinking, why all the options - is one really better than the other? When it comes to windshield washer fluid, the brand is not all that important. What is important is the type of formula - most fluids are created for three main purposes: (1) standard; (2) de-icing, and; (3) grime - plus the bonus option of water repellent treatments. Choosing the best wiper fluid for you should be based on the climate and the type of driving or areas you drive.
The most important initial factor will be to ensure if you live where the temperature drops below freezing, that your wiper fluid is formulated not to freeze (and if you use a standard or grime formula in the summer months, that you’ve replaced it with a de-icing formula before the cold months). Washer fluid freezing causes more issues than just not having fluid when you need it, it can damage the fluid container causing cracks/leaks and/or the tubing from the container to the sprayer.
What are the best wiper blades?
To find the wiper blade best suited for your vehicle, your first step will be to refer to a wiper blade size guide, typically available wherever wiper blades are sold and found easily with an online search. Your next decision will be to choose a brand or store that you would like to purchase the correct sizing from. There are two brands you may see most often when looking into the best blades for your vehicle, (1) Bosch and (2) Michelin. While these brands maybe a little more costly than some of the lesser-known brands out there, the quality of the materials can extend the life of your blades and the design can improve the quality of the clearing of your windshield, especially in the winter months, and driving in heavy rain and windy conditions.
However, it is important to know that any brand available at your local automotive parts supply will adequately wipe your windshield. As with any automotive part, the variety of products available can range from extreme luxury features to exclusively functional - ultimately the choice is yours to decide what is right for your vehicle, climate, driving, and preference. Let our trusted Parts Advisors help you obtain the right blades for your and your vehicle by reaching out to us here: carhub.ca/parts.
How to replace my wiper blades?
Of course, the easiest way to replace your blades is with your mechanic or local trusted service department - book a time with us at one of our convenient locations by clicking here: carhub.ca/service.
If you would like to remove and replace your windshield wiper blades yourself, the instructions will vary by your make/model/year, but here is a general reference guide:
1. Find the appropriate blades (use the advice above)
2. Remove the old blade: pull the wiper blade up from the glass (you may want to place a towel/rags or cardboard on the windshield to protect it in case the wiper arm slips from your grasp), rotate the blade so the bottom is facing upwards, near the end of the refill, find the retaining clips (usually shinny) and pinch them together with needle-nose pliers and start sliding off the old refill. After the clips have slid under the blade clamp, you can stop holding the pliers and hold the wiper arm while you pull off the refill the rest of the way
3. Put on the new refill: slide the new refill on starting from the side you just pulled the old one off from - make sure the new refill is held between each clamp and that the retaining clip clicks into place
4. Put the wiper back into position on the windshield
5. Repeat the steps on the other wiper
Who knew there was so much to know about such a seemingly mundane car part like windshield wiper blades, right? Read on to the next article for more regular maintenance tips and/or check out our full blog section to find a variety of interesting and helpful articles: carhub.ca/our-blog
Sharon has been in the auto industry since 2005 and has worked both in the Sale and Service Department of various New, Used, Domestic, and Import brands.