When do wipers need to be replaced?

December 13, 2021
Working wipers are essential for safe driving. It's frustrating when the wipers squeak or don't clean the windshield properly. When is it a good time to change them? Should the wipers be replaced every 6 months as some parts stores suggest or can they last longer?
Wipers are smearing, leaving streaks Wipers are smearing, leaving streaks.
In our view, wipers should be checked regularly and replaced when they show signs of wear or damage.

What are the signs that wipers must be replaced?
• Wipers are smearing, leaving streaks or squeaking
• Some areas of the windshield are not cleaned when wipers operate
• The rubber blades tear or split at the ends
• The rubber blade becomes detached from the frame or bent
• The metal part of the wiper is touching the windshield or is badly corroded.

Can I change my own wiper blades? Yes, in some cars it's very easy, in others there are some tricks, but you can always find a Youtube video that describes the process for your make and model. When changing the wiper blade, don't forget to protect the windshield (see the photo) as the wiper arms are spring-loaded and can accidentally hit the glass.
Another option is to have the wipers changed during you regular oil change service. Mechanics typically check the wipers during a multi-point inspection and many shops don't charge labor to replace the wipers. Of course, get the quote first, as OEM wipers for some cars are expensive.

Are premium or OEM wiper blades better? The OEM wipers are designed to fit your vehicle and are easier to install. However, we tried many different types of wipers over time and found that often 10-dollar aftermarket wipers will work just as well as premium 35-dollar OEM blades.
Replacing a windshield wiper Replacing a windshield wiper.
If your vehicle has a rear wiper, it might be better to use an OEM part or have it replaced at a dealership. The reason is that the rear wiper often has a special design and could be tricky to install. For example, in many cars, the wiper arm cap needs to be removed in order to lift the wiper arm to remove it. On average, new wipers last for 1-2 years.

Can you replace just the rubber blade (refill)? Yes, some car makers sell the wiper refill (rubber blade) separately and if the wiper blade is still original, the rubber refill can be replaced separately. It takes a bit more work, but is also not very difficult.

Do wipers require any maintenance? Wipers need to be checked regularly, as a damaged wipers can scratch the windshield. It also helps to gently wipe the tips of the blades to remove any sand or other debris once in a while.
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Sand that gets caught under the blades can scratch the windshield. In the snow season, it's a good practice to make sure the wipers are not frozen to the windshield before driving the car. Trying to operate wipers when they are frozen is one of the most common causes for broken wipers and fried wiper motors.

Are there special wipers for winter? The windshield is curved and to clean it properly the wipers must remain flexible at all times. The problem in winter is that the ice buildup on the wiper frame causes it to lose its flexibility. As a result, some areas of the windshield are not cleaned. To prevent icing, some winter wipers are built within a rubber boot that protects the wiper frame from freezing. Other winter wipers have a one-piece flexible design. Of course many modern cars already have one-piece wipers as an original equipment.