Wiper blades are one of the most neglected parts on a vehicle. Many wiper blades are in bad condition due to being exposed to the elements all the time. They can be broken, cracked, dried out or ripped and certainly will not do a sufficient job when the rain comes.
90% of all driving decisions are based on a clear view of the road. This means it is imperative to keep a clean windshield and if it’s not then to be prepared with quality wipers. A driver can tell when his or her wipers need to be replaced if the blades make noises when in use, when streaking occurs or they do not provide a clean wipe.
The consensus among car mechanics is that wiper blades should be replaced every 6-12 months for optimum performance and driving visibility. Natural rubber deteriorates over time. Halogen-hardened rubber as well as synthetic rubber provides longer usage life for blades, but eventually all materials will begin to fall apart.
Both cold and hot weather can affect blade life, too. Freezing temperatures makes rubber hard and brittle, which increases the tendency to crack and split. The blade holders can also become filled with ice and snow, preventing the holder from distributing spring tension evenly over the blade. The blade will “freeze up” and leaves streaks as it skips across the glass.
Hot weather dries out wiper blades, which also leaves them cracked and brittle. Constant exposure to the sun is an unavoidable situation; however you can be aware to check for signs of wear.
Any blade that’s chattering, streaking, cracked, torn or nicked should be replaced immediately.
Check Your Blades
A simple check is to use your car windshield sprayers. If the blades are in poor condition they will not wipe the washing fluid clean.
This will also give you an opportunity to check your windshield washer system. Does the spray hit the windshield where it is supposed to? If not, the nozzles need adjusting. Do both squirters work? If not, a nozzle may be clogged with dirt or a hose may be kinked/loose. Does the washer pump deliver an adequate stream of solvent? If not, the vehicle may have a weak washer pump, or a clogged, kinked or loose hose. Most washer tanks have a screen to filter out debris that could clog or damage the pump. This may be a reason it does not work as well.
After you’ve checked the front windshield wipers make sure you check the rear window wiper if you have one. This is often the most neglected one, but just as important as the front two. If the rear does not have sprayers to test it you can manually spray water on to test.
It is fairly simply and straight forward to replace wiper blades yourself. You can replace just the blade with a refill or the entire blade assembly. Refills will save you money over new blade assemblies. If you are changing the whole blade assembly most will come with an adapter to fit the arms on your vehicle. Also, most new blades will show what vehicle make and models it will fit on. It is very important to look for this to determine blade sizing and installation. The old blades pull or push off the arm by pressing a release button or pin on the wiper holder.
If you are replacing the blade only with a refill, the old blade can be removed by squeezing the locking tags in at the end of the blade so it will slip out of the holder. Be sure the replacement blade is the same length and width as the original.
If you live in a cold climate, you might consider installing a set of “winter blades” on your vehicle. These have an additional feature that prevents ice and snow from building up within the blade.