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It’s easy to forget about them. Wiper blades are often the last thing you think about maintaining. After all, you don’t use them all the time.

Chances are, you only think about replacing your wiper blades when they stop clearing your windshield.

How Often Should You Replace Your Wiper Blades?

Automotive experts recommend replacing your wiper blades every six months or when you notice they’re no longer effective. Your blades should not be more than a year old. An easier way to remember to change your wiper blades is to plan on replacing them every year on Groundhog’s Day.

This way you’ll have new blades in case of six more weeks of sleet and snow and be ready for the coming spring rains.

Signs Your Wiper Blades Need Replacing

There are some telltale signs that indicate your wiper blades need to be replaced. If the blades are skipping places on the windshield, the blade has worn down and is not making contact. Other signs are squeaking noises, streaks and splitting. As soon as you notice any of these, replace your blades before you need to use them.

Even if you think your blades are still working fine after a year, it is still a good idea to perform a quick manual inspection.

Check the blades and frame for the following,

  • Look at the frame. Make sure that the joints are still connected.
  • Check for corrosion around the frame, especially by the joints.
  • Make sure that there aren’t any pieces of rubber missing from the blade or visible tears and cracks.
  • Make sure the rubber blade is still flexible. If its not, this could result in streaks on your windshield.
  • If the blade has rounded edges it won’t be able to make contact with the windshield, resulting in streaks or areas that are not wiped clear.
  • You also want to make sure that the blade is firmly attached, if there is any wiggle-room it is time to replace.

Tips on Maintaining Your Wiper Blades

You need to be able to see out of your windshield when it is raining, snowing or sleeting. If your visibility is impaired, you become a danger to yourself and others. There are a few ways you can prolong the life of your wiper blades.

  • Prolong exposure to bright sunlight can cause deterioration
  • Getting car wax on the blade can result in streaks and oily smears on the windshield
  • Allowing sand, dust, and mud to collect on the windshield and blades can result in streaking.
  • Moisture from rain or saltwater can dry out the blades

Keeping your wiper blades protected can prolong their life and affect how efficiently their able to clear the windshield.

Common Problems with Wiper Blades

Knowing how to recognize common wiper blades problems will help you know when it’s time to replace them.

Some of the common problems are,

Streaking

This can occur when the rubber get dries and hard. Cracks can appear that leave streaks across your windshield. This is often caused by dust, car wax, and other debris getting trapped in the blade.

Skipping

Blades can start to skip across the windshield when they become curved. This usually happens when the blades are rarely used.

Wearing

Extensive use often causes the tip of the blades to have round instead of squared edges. Round tips won’t be able to maintain contact with the windshield, leaving streaks or skipping over areas.

Splitting

Prolong exposure to sunlight – UV rays – can cause the rubber to split away from the frame. If the blade is not securely attached it won’t be able to effectively remove water, dust and other debris from the windshield.

Bent Frames

If the frames are bent, contact with the windshield will be inconsistent. The rubber blades will skip and leave streaks, diminishing visibility.

Caring For Your Wiper Blades

Knowing how to take care of your wiper blades can help prolong their life and ensure that they are effective. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s worth it when your blades are able to effectively clear your windshield.

  1. Use a squeegee to clean your windshield every time you fill up the gas tank.
  2. Regularly clean the rubber blades with a damp towel to remove oil, dirt, and other debris.
  3. Do not use the windshield wiper blades to remove ice or a heavy layer of snow. This can cause the rubber to crack and wear down. It can also cause the frames to bend. Instead turn on the defroster function or use an ice-scrapper.
  4. To prevent the blades from freezing to your windshield, pull them away. The wipers may look like antenna sticking up, but it will help prolong the life of the blades.

How to Change Wiper Blades

No matter how careful you are to maintain your windshield wipers, they will still need to be replaced every twelve months or so. Changing the blades isn’t difficult. It only takes a couple of minutes, even if this is your first time.

Here’s how to change your wiper blades in six easy steps.

  1. Open the package and remove the new blades.

It’s usually best to have the new blades ready, before taking the old ones off the frame. There is a small chance that the extended wiper arm could fall against the windshield. The metal arm is lightweight, but there is still the possibility that it could scratch or crack the windshield. It’s always better to be safe.

  1. Find the “release” tab.

There is a small tab on the arm that releases the blade when pressed. To find it, lift the wiper away from the windshield and turn the blade so it is positioned perpendicular to the metal arm. You should be able to see or at least feel the tab. Not all wiper blades have the same release design. If this is your first time changing them, it might take a couple of seconds before you see or feel the tab.

  1. Press the “release” tab.

When you’re pressing on the tab, you want to pull the blade down. Do not pull the blade up, it will not separate from the arm.

  1. Remove the old blade.

To remove the rubber squeegee, simply pull down on the blade. The arm and blade should be parallel to each other. The blade will just slide off the arm. It really is that easy to take the old one off.

  1. Put the new blade on.

To attach the new blade, just follow the steps for removing it in reverse. Holding the blade parallel to the arm and slide it into the slot. When you turn the blade perpendicular, you’ll be able to pull it into place. There should be a slight “click” when the blade is locked in. Repeat these steps to replace the other wiper blade.

  1. Test the new blades out.

It is always a good idea to test out the new wiper blades, before taking your vehicle out. You don’t want to find out they’re not properly attached in the middle of a rainstorm. Press the button for your wiper fluid and see how the new blades perform. If they are properly attached there shouldn’t be any problems with skipping or streaking.

As you can see, changing your wiper blades isn’t difficult. It only takes a few minutes and it is worth the time when you can see clearly out of your windshield.

Final Thoughts

Like everything else, wiper blades do wear out over time. As soon as you start to notice that the blades are not able to clear your windshield, it is time to replace them. Even if you haven’t noticed any problems with the blades’ performance, it is still a good idea to replace them at least once a year.

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