Why replace a wiper blade?
It goes without saying that drivers need to be able to clearly see the road ahead to remain safe on the road. For a car to be in roadworthy condition, and pass its annual MOT test (if more than three-years old) it must have windscreen wipers, which should be correctly secured and in good working condition.
Given that the UK and rain go together like the Queen and Buckingham Palace, Britain’s drivers rely on their cars’ windscreen wipers. On average, the UK has 131 days a year with rainfall of 1mm or more. However, in parts of Wales, that rises to 160 days, and in Scotland it can be as high as 220 days a year.
Over time and use, the effectiveness of wiper blades deteriorates. This can lead to a smearing effect of water, which obscures the view through the windscreen. That can cause a car to fail its MOT.
Even if drivers don’t live in a rainy climate, a car’s wiper blades should be replaced roughly every 12 months because the rubber gradually perishes when it’s exposed to sunlight or cold temperatures and its wiping performance worsens.
New wipers are easy to fit, relatively affordable and ensure good visibility in bad weather, so they’re a wise investment.
This task requires no experience and only basic tools, and can be completed in a matter of minutes.
How will I know when to replace wiper blades?
The first and most obvious sign that windscreen wipers need replacing is when they begin to smear or leave streaks of water across the glass. Other telltales signs during operation include a juddering effect as they pass over the glass, or unusual noises — as they should be silent.
Every month, give the wiper blades a clean (see below) and then run your fingertips along the edge of the rubber blade, feeling for any tears or cuts. It’s important to remember to check the operation and condition of the rear wiper blade too.
Cost of new wiper blades and which does my car need?
Wiper blades can be bought from most car care stores, garages or ordered online. It’s often cheaper to buy them online, using sites such as halfords.com, wiperblades.co.ukor eurocarparts.com. Prices start from roughly £5 for a single wiper, and £14 for a pair.
These sites make it easy to choose the correct fitment wipers for their car, by using a vehicle registration search tool. However, before buying the wipers, take a moment to go to your car and remove an existing wiper blade.
This should be simple to do – see basic guide below – but as all cars are different, you can also check the vehicle handbook or look up instructions for your specific car at haynes.com/ondemand. There may even be a video tutorial.
Tips for caring for wiper blades
Some drivers reports that even brand new wiper blades can leave smears, or judder across glass. A suggested cure for this, from wiperblades.co.uk, is to wipe the rubber blade with paper towel or cloth damped using malt vinegar, or neat windscreen washer fluid.
Over time, it’s a good idea to clean your wiper blades when washing your car. Lift them proud of the windscreen, then wash the rubber blades with a wet sponge or microfibre mitt or towel. This will remove the dirt that accumulates around the base of the rubber blade.
Alternatively, at a petrol station take some paper towels and wet them, before wiping them along the rubber blade. This is also an ideal location to top-up the windscreen washer fluid, taking care to use the appropriate dilution of washer fluid and water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When returning to the car after rain has stopped, before starting the car make sure the wipers are switched off, or else they will drag across the dry windscreen, which is abrasive to the rubber. In freezing conditions make sure the wipers aren’t stuck to the windshield or rear screen before use, as this could tear the rubber blade or cause damage to the wiper motor unit.
How to change a windscreen wiper blade
- Around 5 mins
Tools required (optional)
- Flat-head screwdriver
Parts that you may need
- Replacement wiper blades
Changing a wiper blade: step-by-step
- For wiper arms with a retaining clip: lift the arm from the glass, swing the blade so it is at a right angle to the arm and press the central lever within the fastening mechanism to release the wiper blade from the arm. In some instances, a screwdriver may help to release the fastening clip.
- For wiper arms without a retaining clip: lift the arm from the glass, swing the blade so it is at a right angle to the arm and simply pull the blade free from the arm.
- Replace with the new wiper blade, and check they are fastened securely.