Overview: How to diagnose common wiper problems
When you're behind the wheel, nothing is more crucial than good visibility. But like most other drivers, I usually wait too long to replace my wipers. Wipers should be replaced every six months, especially if you park outside and you live in the desert or in other dusty conditions.
Your windshield wiper assembly consists of three basic parts: the lower wiper arm that protrudes up from the cowl, the blade that attaches to the wiper arm and the rubber refill that wipes the glass. The thin rubber refill is the part that eventually breaks down from extreme weather conditions, dust and dirt. Most often you can just replace the wiper refill as we show here.
However, the blade can also become weak and lose its tension against the glass or even bend slightly from ice and snow. If you have problems with chatter, or if the entire blade isn't making contact with the windshield, replace the entire blade. Both jobs take only minute. It's a good idea to replace the whole blade (sold with refills) every two years.
Tip: You can get more life out of your wipers and keep them working effectively if you clean your windshield every time you fill up with gas. Also wipe the entire rubber insert with a moist rag to remove grit.
Step 1: Buy the proper size refills
First measure your wiper blade refills to get the exact replacement length. Go to an auto parts store with your tape measure to find the exact length refills.
Tip: Don't assume the refill inserts are the same length on the driver's side and the passenger's side.One is often an inchor more longer than the other.
Step 2: Slide out the old blade
Pull the wiper arm back from the glass, then double up a bath towel over your windshield just in case the wiper arm gets away from you and snaps back against the glass. Once the arm is pulled back, pivot the blade so the bottom of the blade flips up toward the top. Locate the small shiny retaining clips near the end of the refill. Pinch them together with a needle-nose pliers and start sliding out the refill. Once the clips slide under the blade clamp, set the pliers down and pull out the old refill with one hand while supporting the blade with the other.
Step 3: Slide in the refill
Carefully slide the new refill into the same end you pulled the old one from. Make sure the new refill is held between each clamp (to avoid scratching your windshield) and that the retaining clip clicks into position in the last clamp. Gently pivot the arm back into position, release the arm and repeat the process for the other side.
Video: How to Change Windshield Wipers
Rick Muscoplat, an editor for The Family Handyman, will show you how to change windshield wiper blades in less than five minutes.