BRIAN TURNER, POSTMEDIA
“If you can’t change a tire or wiper blade, you shouldn’t be driving.” You’ve probably heard this more than once before, especially if you’ve struggled with something on your vehicle, particularly your windshield wipers. And if you take the time to see how many vehicles on the road have streaking or ripped wiper blades, you might be surprised at how many drivers never bothered to learn.
Replace your wipers, not your windshield
This skill is particularly useful during both hot and cold weather. Ice build-up will take its toll on wipers, but the heat of summer can be just as damaging. If you think leaving a worn blade on is just a matter of less-than-perfect vision out your windshield, think again. When wiper blade edges tear, they can cause the frame of the blade to rub against the windshield; this can quickly and permanently mark the glass, turning a $15 wiper blade job into a full windshield replacement.
How will I know they need to be replaced?
Long before the edges tear and potentially damage your windshield, the blades will gradually lose their ability to keep your view clear. Blades, no matter who makes them or what they cost, seldom stay effective past a year or more. Yes, you can temporarily improve a wiper blade by wiping the edge with an alcohol wipe to clean off any road grime, but alcohol will eventually dry out the rubber, leading to cracking and crumbling.
Which wiper blades does my car need?
You can rely on auto parts stores’ wiper blade listings to find the correct ones for your vehicle, but they’re pretty much labeled by length in inches, so a quick check with a tape measure will do the trick. Most windshields will allow about a one-inch variance, either longer or shorter. There are different styles of attachment points as well, but the most popular is referred to as the ‘J-hook’ type, denoting the curved hook end of the arm.
How to replace windshield wipers
Plain, low-cost blades that fit onto ‘J-hooks’ use a plastic latch that’s released by depressing it. Then, the blade can slide off the hook. This is where most people get frustrated, as they press the small latch and pull as hard as they dare but the blade won’t release. The most likely cause is the plastic connector has adhered itself to the metal of the wiper arm. Sometimes, a few slight twists of the blade or a bit of prying will do the trick, but a shot of silicone lubricating spray or WD-40 can easily free things up. Furthermore, never leave a wiper arm lifted off the glass in its standing position when changing a wiper blade, unless you’re holding it. If something causes the arm to snap down onto the glass, it may crack your windshield.
When in doubt, read the instructions
When replacing windshield wipers, take advantage of the fact that all manufacturers actually include instructions in the package. This comes in handy for different styles of attachments. If you’re not sure of which type your vehicle uses, most brands include multiple adapters in the package.
Copyright PostMedia Network Inc., 2020