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How to Change Wiper Blades in 3 Steps

Stop the streaks and chatter and get back on the road-safely! Read on to learn how to change windshield wiper blades.

How to replace windshield wipers how to change windshield wipersFamily Handyman
Stop annoying streaks and chatter from worn wiper blades. Make your car safer. Replace them in minutes.

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Time
Instant!
Complexity
Simple
Cost
Under $20

Video: How to Replace Windshield Wipers

Overview: How to diagnose common wiper problems

how to change wiper blades

Wiper blade and refill

Purchase refills to replace worn rubber part of wiper blades. You don’t have to buy the entire blade.

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 in this how to change wiper blades article.

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. How to install wiper blades takes 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 wiper blade refills

Measure the windshield wiper blades

Measure both wiper blades and buy refill the exact lengths.

First measure your windshield 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 before changing windshield wipers.

Tip: Don’t assume the windshield wiper refill inserts are the same length on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side. One is often an inch or more longer than the other.

Step 2: Slide out the old wiper blade

how to change wiper blades

Remove the old windshield wiper blade

Pinch the retaining clips and slide the old wiper blade out of its frame to begin seeing how to change wiper blades.

To begin removing wiper blades, 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 windshield wiper blade replacement

how to change wiper blades

Insert the windshield wiper blade replacement

Slide in the refill until the retaining clamp clicks into place.

Carefully slide the new wiper blade replacement into the same end you pulled the old one from. Make sure the new wiper blade replacement 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. That’s it, you’ve learned how to change wiper blades! Find out how to quiet noisy windshield wipers, too.

Required Tools for this How to Change Windshield Wipers Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY how to replace windshield wipers project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Needle-nose pliers

Required Materials for this How to Change Windshield Wipers Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready for this how to change windshield wipers project ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Wiper refills