They may not seem like a critical part of your vehicle, but good windshield wipers are a vital safety feature. The wipers clear the view in front of the driver and front passenger and clean the rear window?s center when equipped with a rear wiper. Driving with faulty windshield wipers can seriously affect your view of the road, putting you and other motorists in peril. As soon as you notice that your wipers are under-performing, have them replaced or repaired.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the correct windshield wipers for your car. Always keep your location?s weather conditions in mind when choosing the right blade for the job. In this article, we?ll share our tips, answer common questions, and offer suggestions to help you buy the right windshield wiper for your needs.
How Often Should I Change My Wiper Blades?
Change your wiper blades every 6-12 months. Windshield wipers are manufactured from degradable rubber that deteriorates, becoming less effective over time. Develop the habit of checking your wipers regularly and know the danger signs of wiper blade wear and tear. What do you do if your blades need to be replaced?
How Do I Know if I Need New Windshield Wipers?
Here are five warning signs your wipers have become worn and need replacement.
- Streaking: When your wiper?s rubber blade becomes hardened and cracked, it will leave watery gaps on your windshield. Cracked and hardened blades create streaks, lines, or bands across the windshield.
- Vibrating: Wear and tear on the links and rubber blade can cause the wiper to make jerking, noisy movements across the windshield.
- Lifting: When the wiper misses sections on the windshield, it?s due to lifting. Either the blade or the arm should be replaced.
- Squeaking: Worn wiper elements can become hardened or misshapen, causing them to squeak and make noise.
- Skipping: a deformed wiper blade lip will ?skip? across the windshield, causing a veil effect.
Are All Windshield Wipers the Same Size?
No, all windshield wipers are not the same. Wiper blades are available in many styles, sizes, and variations, and they?re also vehicle specific. It?s important to know which ones to buy when replacing them. On some cars, passenger and driver?s side wiper blades are the same, while others differ vastly. The best blade size for each of your wipers should be selected for proper fit and windshield clearance.
What Do I Need to Know Before I Buy Windshield Wipers?
There are several questions to consider before choosing replacement windshield wipers. Here are the most important.
- Which blades do you need to replace? Driver-side, passenger-side, or rear wiper blades? On some cars, the driver?s side wiper blade is larger than the passenger?s-side. Driver-side and passenger-side wiper blades can be purchased in pairs or individually. Rear wiper blades are sold singularly.
- Do you need to replace the blade or the entire wiper arm? Frequently, you can keep the arm and only replace the wiper blade that connects into place.
- How do the blades connect to the wiper arms? Some blades employ hook mechanisms. Others use side-pin, top-lock, pinch-tab, bayonet, and slim-top mechanisms. Don?t worry, every wiper blade set comes with a picture diagram showing how to slot the new blades onto the wiper arms.
Are There Different Kinds of Wiper Blades?
Yes, there are different types of windshield wiper blades, but they all have the same feature, a rubber-edged squeegee that makes contact with windshield glass. A wiper blade?s rubber edge is soft, flexible, and likely to degrade, wear and tear. Vehicle makers have developed several styles of wiper blades for use in different situations.
Standard Hinged Wiper Blades
- Most vehicles are equipped with hinged wiper blades.
- Popular for decades, hinged blades are economical and a great all-around blade.
- Hinged wiper blade arms are lightweight stamped metal with pivots holding the rubber wiper edge against the windshield. The hinges allow the rubber squeegee to conform to the contours of the glass.
- Ice collects on the metal frame during winter, making them less effective. Regular cleaning is a must to keep the blades useful.
Winter Wiper Blades
- Essentially the same as standard hinged wiper blades.
- The entire metal frame is encased in a thin rubber boot with a rubber edge.
- The windshield wiper keeps its hinged abilities, but snow and ice cannot be collected on the wiper.
- Excellent for cold weather use, but the rubber boot deteriorates, cracks and tears during hot weather.
Hingeless Wiper Blades
- The structure of the wiper blade is made of flexible plastic instead of metal. A rubber squeegee blade cleans the windshield glass.
- There are no hinges to limit the range of motion.
- There is less surface on the wiper blade for snow and ice buildup.
- Hingeless wiper blades are a premium blade and cost more than standard blades.
- These are excellent all-around wiper blades.
Flat Wiper Blades
- Flat wiper blades are slim-designed wipers with a rubber-coated, tensioned metal strip.
- The flat, aerodynamic shape reduces wind noise, improving wiper efficiency.
- The internal metal strip applies continuous pressure to the blade, minimizing obstruction of the driver?s field of vision.
- Flat wiper blades rarely have hook fittings and employ side-pin, bayonet, or pinch-tab connections.
Spoiler Wiper Blades
- These wiper blades have a full spoiler running the blade?s length.
- Designed only for the driver?s side, spoiler wiper blades connect to the wiper arm via a hook-shaped fitting.
- The spoiler keeps the wiper blade close to the windshield in strong winds, enabling it to sit flush as the vehicle travels at higher speeds.
Hybrid Wiper Blades
- Hybrid wiper blades combine the aerodynamic design of flat blades with the solid form of conventional wipers.
- Hybrid wiper blades allow sturdy support for the rubber squeegees enabling smooth airflow for efficient, quiet wiping motions.
Specific-Fit Wiper Blades
- Produced for specific vehicles that require unique wiper blades.
- These rubber-casing refills are a low-cost alternative to replacing the entire blade, but it?s faster, easier, and more effective to replace the whole blade.
How Do I Know What Size Windshield Wipers to Get?
Every vehicle has a manufacturer recommended size of the wiper blade, specific to that make, model, and year. It is crucial to choose the correct replacement blade size for your particular vehicle.
- Click on this link for the easiest way to find the right wiper blade size for your vehicle.
- Look in the owner?s manual.
- Go to any auto parts store and use their wiper blade size index.
- Look up your correct wiper size online.
- Measure the wiper blades currently on your car.
Can I Install a Different Sized Wiper Blade Than Recommended?
- Always select the recommended wiper blade size for your vehicle.
- If you replace the wiper blades on your car with larger wipers, you will find that one or both will either hang off the side of the windshield or hit the top windshield trim when in the vertical position.
- Oversized wiper blades won?t sit flush against the windshield resulting in uneven clearing that will cause premature wear.
- Too-long wiper blades can also hit each other, tangle, and possibly damage the wiper blades, arms, and even the wiper motor and transmission.
- Smaller than recommended wiper blades will not clear enough critical viewing areas on the windshield, endangering the driver and other motorists.
How Do I Change My Windshield Wipers?
It?s simple to change your wiper blades when you know-how. Here are the three easy steps.
1. Measure Windshield Wipers:
- Measure your wipers.
- Windshield wipers are available in many sizes, the incorrect size won?t fit or work correctly.
- Reference your vehicle?s owner?s manual or look at the current wiper blade to see the correct size.
2. Remove the Old Wiper:
- Gently lift the wiper arm away from the windshield.
- Press the small tab under the wiper where it meets the arm.
- The wiper blade should then slide right off the arm as you pull downward.
3. Install the New Windshield Wiper:
- Make sure the new wiper blade uses the same hooks as the old, then attach to the arm.
- You?ll hear a clicking sound as the new blade locks in place.
- Gently lower the arm back to the windshield before repeating the process on the other one.
- Test them immediately. Don?t wait until a downpour to see if you did this right.
- Turn the wipers on and off to make sure they work effectively and don?t come loose.
How Much Does a Windshield Wiper Cost?
Just as any product, you can spend as much or as little as you?d like on windshield wiper blades, depending on the quality, purpose, and budget. Here?s a quick pricing link.
High-End Wiper Blades ? $12 to $18
? Great at keeping the windshield clear
- Snow and ice resistant
- Won?t freeze-up in winter
- Easier to install
- Long-lasting to offset the initial high cost
Mid-End Wiper Blades ? $8 to $12
- Do a great job cleaning windshields
- Last almost as long as high-end wiper blades
- Youll spend less money on windshield wipers over your lifetime
- Best value for your money
Low-End Wiper Blades ? Less Than $8
- Low price
- Effective at handling rain, but not snow and mud
- Check out reviews to see if the low-end blades are effective for drivers with similar driving conditions
- Can save you money if you don?t need more features
What Are the Five Best Windshield Wiper Brands?
- The Bosch ICON, a beam-style wiper blade featuring a bracketless design with tension springs that keep the blade flexible for superior performance in all weather conditions.
- ANCO 31-Series, an affordable, easy to install a conventional wiper blade, especially if you don?t live in an area with lots of rain or snow.
- Michelin Stealth Ultra Hybrid Wiper Blade, best blade for winter conditions. Patented blade design hugs the windshield?s curve for better clearing and visibility, while hardcover protects the blade arm from snow and ice.
- Aero Premium All-Season Wipers, a beam-style option that offers a six-month warranty on its products. A good all-season wiper blade made from a specially blended rubber for a smooth, clean, streak- and chatter-free wipe.
- Bosch OE Specialty AeroTwin, sold as a pair featuring a blended dual rubber compound with graphite coating for long life and protected by an aerodynamic all-steel frame with an asymmetrical wind spoiler for better windshield contact.
Do Auto Parts Stores Replace Windshield Wiper Blades?
Many stores, including O?Reilly, AutoZone, and Advance Auto Parts will replace your wiper blades for free if you buy them at their store. Most auto places will put your wiper blades on your vehicle at no cost if you purchase the blades from them.
How Do You Maintain and Prolong the Life of a Windshield Wiper?
Wiper blades deteriorate over time due to environmental factors: moisture, sun, airborne dirt, insects, oil from cleaners and waxes, road grime, and other debris. Deteriorating and inferior wiper blades cause poor visibility in dangerous weather, leading to hazardous driving conditions.
Here are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your windshield wipers:
- Every time you fill your gas tank, clean your windshield. You can also apply a windshield treatment every few months to help repel water. Windshield treatments work by coating your glass with a water-repellent silicone film, making water bead up, and improving the wiper blade?s ability to remove water. The coating also makes it easier to remove bugs and ice.
- During cleaning, gently wipe the rubber squeegee with a damp paper towel to remove any oil or loose dirt. Now and again, give the wipers a good wash and dry with a glass cleaner and a towel.
- Visually inspect them for wear and tear. Run your finger along the wiper?s rubber to find any damage. Look for:
- Broken wiper frames (separation of frame arms at joints or connection points)
- Metal corrosion, especially claws and joints
- Noticeable tears, cracks, and missing rubber pieces on the squeegee?s edge
- Check the flexibility of the rubber squeegee. If you can gently bend the rubber squeegee back and forth, it?s still good. Old, rigid squeegees won?t hug the shape of your windshield, creating streaks.
- Wiper-edge rounding can prevent the wiper blade from making firm contact with the windshield, reducing wipe quality.
- Make sure the wiper blade is securely installed on the wiper arm.
- Also, check that the squeegee is secure in the wiper frame.
- Do not de-ice your windshield with the wiper blades! Use an ice scraper or your vehicle?s defroster to melt snow and ice.
- Top-off your washer fluid with the right mix for your climate. Washer fluid containing antifreeze is recommended for extreme cold.
- During winter months, pull your wiper blades away from the windshield to prevent ice buildup on the rubber squeegee. Your wiper blades won?t stick to the windshield and will last longer.
- Change your wiper blades twice a year.
What do You do With Old Windshield Wipers?
Did you know that you can recycle windshield wiper blades? Yes, you can!
Windshield wipers are perfect as shower and window squeegees. They are larger than traditional squeegees, clean more areas, and last longer. Also, recycling windshield wipers saves you money on cleansers. Using them to squeegee the shower in between cleanings saves cleanser, meaning there is not as much soap scum buildup on the shower walls.
We hope we?ve satisfied your curiosity and answered the most pressing questions about windshield wipers. From helping you discover the size of your wiper blades and knowing when to change them to recognize the signs your wiper blades need to be replaced. Now you know the different kinds of wiper blades, how to select and install them, and even how to recycle them. Windshield wiper blades remove rain, snow, dirt, pollen, frost, and other debris quickly and smoothly at the push of a button! They are a small part of your car, but now you know how significantly they impact your driving and overall safety.