Owning a vehicle is expensive. Car payments, insurance bills, taxes, and maintenance costs add up quickly. But it’s important not to neglect routine maintenance work just because you’re feeling spent, literally. Routine vehicle maintenance will lengthen your car’s longevity and will ensure your safety. Although there are many aspects of a vehicle that need to be checked regularly, there’s one feature that’s often forgotten about—windshield wiper blades.
You’ve probably been reminded to change your oil, rotate your tires, and check your transmission fluid, but have you ever been reminded to check your windshield wiper blades? It’s doubtful. These safety features are often overlooked during maintenance checks. I’m here to tell you everything you need to know about inspecting and replacing your windshield wiper blades so you can maintain them on your own.
What to Look For
Visibility out of your front windshield is essential. Windshield wiper blades remove rain, snow, ice, and debris from your windshield so you can drive safely. Unclean or obscured windshields are a hazard, which is why it’s crucial to replace windshield wiper blades and refill windshield washer fluid regularly.
Typically, windshield wiper blades need to be replaced every six months. If the rubber pieces on your wiper blades are cracked or split, it’s time to get them replaced. If your windshield wipers create streaks on your windshield, regardless of how much fluid you’ve used to attempt to eliminate grime, it’s time to get them replaced. If your wipers make audible noises as they drag across the glass, it’s time to get them replaced. And if your wiper blades aren’t making contact with the majority of your windshield, it’s time to get them replaced.
All of these scenarios are signs that it’s time to get a new set of windshield wiper blades. Sun, airborne debris, and moisture cause wiper blades to deteriorate over time. Luckily, they are fairly inexpensive to purchase and are an investment that you will be thankful for.
What to Buy
Buying windshield wiper blades can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never purchased them before. They vary in price, size, and brand, but there’s no reason to feel intimidated by this task. Your car’s owner’s manual should specify the exact blade you need. You can also look online for your car’s make, model, and year to determine what blades are best suited for your specific vehicle.
If you want other options, you could measure your current wiper blades and purchase wiper blades with the same dimensions. If you still aren’t sure what exact blades to buy, consult a professional. Auto parts retailers like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and O’Reilly Auto Parts will typically help you change your windshield wiper blades for free if you purchase them at their store.
It’s recommended to buy middle-of-the-line wiper blades. There’s no need to spend an outrageous amount of money on this purchase, but it also pays to avoid the cheapest wiper blades on the market.
How to Install
Many vehicle owners will replace their windshield wiper blades themselves, which is totally doable. Most wiper blades are designed to be installed and removed without tools. And the majority of cars use hook-type wiper blades that are easily attached and detached.
The first step is to remove your old blades. You should lift the wiper blades up, turn them perpendicular to the arm, and press the release tab. You then pivot the blade parallel to the arm and slide it off. Now that the old blades are disengaged and removed from the windshield, you can attach your new blades.
The second step is to install your new blades by repeating the first step in reverse. Position the blades so they’re parallel to the arm and then turn it perpendicular. You should then pull it up gently to lock it into place. You should hear an audible click to ensure the blades are properly installed. You then lower the blades back to the windshield so they’re ready to use.
After replacing your wiper blades, open the hood of your car and find your washer fluid reservoir. Remove the cap and check the fluid level. If it’s low, carefully add more windshield washer fluid to the reservoir. Then replace the cap and close the hood.
There are plenty of videos online that exemplify both of these maintenance techniques if you’re a visual learner. And if you still don’t feel comfortable doing this job yourself, it can be done by an experienced vehicle technician!
How to Extend
You can extend the life of your windshield wiper blades by adhering to these tips and tricks. Keep your wipers clean. If dirt and debris are building up on your wiper blades, use rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth to cleanse them. And in addition to cleaning your wiper blades, you should clean your car as well. Washing your vehicle regularly will remove dirt and debris and prevent the buildup of grime.
Another way to make the most out of your windshield wiper blades is to stay out of the sun. Parking your car in shady areas will prevent your blades from drying and cracking. You should also resist the urge to clear snow and ice with your wiper blades. These can damage the blades and cause them to wear prematurely.
By following these suggestions, you can better care for your windshield wiper blades and save yourself money!