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How do I Replace Windshield Wiper Blades?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Changing windshield wiper blades takes about five minutes, and it can contribute a significant difference to overall driving comfort and safety. It's a good idea to check on the condition of wiper blades every six months to confirm that they are working well, and to replace them as needed, rather than paying no attention to the blades until the first rain. As a side note, it is also inadvisable to change the wipers right before the summer, as the rubber can crack and distort in the summer sun.

The process starts with buying new windshield wiper blades. Consumers can choose between fillers, the strips of rubber which fit into the wiper, or entire blade assemblies, which include the strip of rubber and the supportive housing. It can sometimes be hard to find fillers, forcing people to buy the whole blade assembly, but fillers are much cheaper, and less wasteful.

Auto parts stores are usually happy to look up a car by make and model and determine which windshield wiper blades will fit that car. Consumers should be aware that some cars have one short blade and one long blade, and it's important to get the right lengths. It is also possible to check the owner's manual for wiper blade specifications, or to look up wipers online by car make and model, for people who do not want to ask the staff at the store.

With replacements in hand, it's time to walk out to the car and change the blades. The process starts with lifting the windshield wipers so that they are clear of the windshield. In most cars, this is accomplished by pulling outwards, and the wiper will stay in place until it is gently pushed back. It's best to do this one wiper at a time. In the case of cars with blades of different lengths, remember to use the correct blades on each side!

In the case of fillers, replacing windshield wiper blades is very easy. The old rubber simply needs to be pulled out so that the new filler can be inserted. Sometimes, snaps or tabs hold the rubber in place so that it does not slide while the wiper is in operation, and these need to be opened to release the blade.

If it was necessary to purchase a windshield wiper blade assembly, the old blade assembly will need to be taken off. Each car is slightly different, and the blade assembly may unsnap, slide off, or require a quick turn of a screwdriver to loosen the housing which holds it in place. If the removal method is not immediately clear, sometimes an examination of the new blade assembly will reveal the trick; a hidden tab or hook is often readily apparent on the part which is not attached to the car. Once the old assembly is removed, the new one can be slid, snapped, or screwed into place.

For people who are feeling daunted by wiper replacement, the staff at auto parts stores will often do it for free if the car is in the parking lot and the store is not busy. Mechanics will also replace windshield wiper blades by request as part of the routine maintenance provided when a car is taken in for an oil change or similar procedure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Inaventu — On Jul 03, 2014

I highly recommend buying silicone windshield wiper blades. They have been the best windshield wiper blades to handle the hot weather and constant sunlight around here. Traditional rubber blades tend to dry out and split after a few months in the summer heat. The silicone windshield wiper blades refills may be a little more expensive, but I think it's worth it if you live in places with extreme hot or cold conditions.

By mrwormy — On Jul 02, 2014

I usually ask the mechanic on duty to change out my windshield wiper blades whenever I take the car in for an oil change. If the blades wear out before that time, I can change them out myself. I'll try to buy windshield wiper blades refills whenever they are on sale and keep them in the trunk until I need them.

Replacing the windshield wiper blades in my current car isn't very difficult. The clips holding the blades just bend out. I've had trouble with other cars in the past, however. One time I just gave up and replaced the entire blade assembly. Every car model is different.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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