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How to change windshield wipers — a complete guide

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Let's be honest here: Out of all the routine maintenance items your car needs, few tasks are as simple or as widely neglected as keeping up with your windshield wipers. If your wipers are looking a little sad, leaving streaks on your windshield, or making driving in the rain feel like a life or death experience, now would be a good time to learn how to change windshield wipers on your own. We've got your back.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

10 minutes
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Step 1: Find The right wiper size and style for your car

The first step to swapping out your windshield wipers is figuring out what kind of wiper you're currently working with. To do this, you need to know two things: First, what kind of wiper attachment your car uses, and second, what size wipers you need.

The overwhelming majority of cars on the road use one of three standardized wiper attachments: Hooked, straight, or side-mounted. That's a good thing, because it means any major auto parts chain should carry blades that fit your car. They should also be able to look up the right type and size wiper for you in-store, which takes a lot of the guesswork and measuring out of the equation. If you're looking to go the full DIY approach though, you can also look up and determine your wiper type on your own. The easiest way to do this is to simply look it up in your owner's manual, but if you don't have one handy, you can just go out and remove the blades currently on your car to figure it out. Here's how to do that.

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Step 2: Protect your windshield

Your next move is to put something between the wiper and the windshield to protect the glass underneath while you work. To do this, grab your windshield wiper arm and lift it a few inches from the glass. At this point you'll want to take note of where the end of the wiper arm sits on the windshield, and slide something soft between the wiper and the glass to protect the windshield itself. No need to get fancy, any old folded t-shirt, microfiber towel, or piece of cardboard works: So long as it keeps the wiper arm from damaging the glass underneath, it'll do.

best car wiper blades windshield wipers 2020
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Step 3: Remove your old windshield wipers

Now that you've got our windshield protected, it's time to get down to brass tacks. To remove your old wiper blades, start by pulling up your wiper arms about 90-degrees until the spring-loaded mechanism at the bottom locks the arm out pointing up in the air.

From this point, the process depends on the type of blade attachment your vehicle uses, but they all work in a pretty straightforward way. If you've got a "J-Hook" style attachment, you simply need to push the blade itself down toward the base of the arm until it pops off the hook. If you've got one of the other common systems, you'll typically be looking to push in a tab or two on the sides of the blade, then slide the wiper out while the tabs are depressed. It shouldn't require a great deal of force, so when in doubt, check your owner's manual.

Once you've got your blades removed, compare them to your new windshield wipers to make sure they're the same length and attachment style. If you're going the DIY method mentioned above, this will tell you everything you need to order the correct size and style replacement blade for your vehicle.

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Step 4: Attach your new wipers

Truth be told, once you've got your old blades off, the hard part is done. Installing new windshield wiper blades is as simple as clipping the new blades into place, which always works the exact opposite way you took your old blades off.

Once you've got your new blades clipped into place securely, go ahead and remove whatever protective barrier you placed on your windshield earlier, and give the new blades a test run by turning on your car and flipping them on the lowest speed setting. If they track smoothly and securely along your windshield, your job is done.

Note: Some replacement blades come with multiple attachment brackets in the package, providing a "one blade fits all" solution regardless of which system your current blades use. Make sure you install the same attachment type as the previous blade before trying to fit them to your wiper arms or you'll make this job a lot harder than it should be.

FAQs

After reading this how-to article, you still may have a few questions. For instance, you may be asking yourself: How often should I change my car's windshield wipers? Or you may be wondering what signs you should look out for to know when it's time to change your windshield wipers. We'll answer these questions below.

How long does it take to replace windshield wipers? It should take you 15 minutes or less to replace your windshield wipers if you follow the techniques laid out above. Granted, if it is your first time replacing wipers on the particular car, you may need to take extra time learning which wipers to get for it. After you've practiced the motion a time or two, it will become easier.

How often should I change my car's windshield wipers?

You should change your car's windshield wipers when you notice that they're not working as well as they used to or they have a lot of wear on them. If you're looking for a set schedule, we recommend changing your car's windshield wipers every six months to a year. That's a good rule of thumb for most people to follow. Keep in mind that cheap windshield wipers will only last a few months, while high-quality ones could make last for up to a year.

What signs should I look for to know when I need to change my car's windshield wipers?

Common signs that you need to change your car's windshield wipers include streaks, smears, and obvious damage. Noises can be another great way to diagnose wiper issues. If you notice that your windshield wipers are making a chattering sound as they skip their way across the windshield, that's another sign that your windshield wipers are on their way out. Additionally, high-pitched squeaks or noises could be a sign of worn-out windshield wipers.

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Kurt Spurlock
Kurt Spurlock is a writer for the outdoors and motorcycle industries. When he's not busy writing you can find him hoarding…
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