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Car Maintenance 101: Replacing Windshield Wiper Blades

Windshield wiper image

Thanks to San Diego’s beautiful weather, many of us rarely use our windshield wipers. That means some of us aren’t too familiar with the simple car maintenance task of changing the wiper blades. Wiper blades can go bad even when they haven’t been in use, so it’s wise to test them periodically so you aren’t caught off guard if they don’t function properly during the next rainstorm.

When to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

The most obvious sign of bad wiper blades is streaking when they’re in use. If you can’t clearly see out of the windows, it’s probably time to replace the blades. Also, any time the wipers don’t seem to be functioning properly – if they’re making a chattering sound, they’re popping up and down against the windshield, or the rubber blade is worn or broken – it’s best to replace them.

How can you be sure it’s really time to replace the blades? If you’ve experienced a streaky windshield, wipe the blades with a damp cloth to remove dirt, then try again to see how they’re working. If the wipers don’t seem to be functioning properly, lift them just off the surface of the windshield and let them snap back into place. If the windshield is still streaky or the blades still aren’t functioning properly, they need to be replaced at this time.

Wiper blades in most climates wear out in six to 12 months. Even in San Diego’s sunny weather, drivers can frequently see damaged wipers due to heat and lack of moisture. Different types of blades have different lifespans, but most drivers with regular rubber blades should consider replacing them once or twice a year when they have car maintenance performed.

Windshield Wiper Maintenance and Purchasing Tips

Aside from the fact that it’s really hard to see out of a windshield without proper wipers, using old wipers can have other serious consequences. Older blades are at risk of shredding and breaking loose from the blade arm, which can cause damage to the windshield as it scrapes across the glass, leading to expensive car maintenance and repairs.

If price is important to you, use inexpensive rubber blades to save money. Keep in mind that the blade arm may break at some point, however. If you’re most concerned with quality, consider investing in a pricier silicon blade, which offers a longer lifespan.

Windshield wipers are a simple yet necessary part of all cars, so it’s important to check yours periodically for proper functioning. Many car maintenance shops and auto parts stores will install windshield wiper blades free of charge if you purchase them there, so there’s no excuse not to have properly functioning blades.