Windshield Wiper Maintenance Made Easy

by Don Elliott on August 18, 2011


Replacing your car’s windshield wiper blades every six months is a quick and inexpensive way to improve your used car value. Wiper blades deteriorate over time. Rain, snow, sun, and debris on the glass surface gradually wear down the effective clearing properties of the blade.

You can easily inspect and replace wiper blades yourself. Look for these signs that it is time to change out the wiper blades:
Torn rubber – The leading edge of the wiping surface can tear away from the support structure.
Streaking – Road chemicals, sunlight, and extreme temperature can affect the flexibility of the blade surface as it touches the glass surface.
Open areas on the wiping surface – Wiper arms, blades, and refills can be damaged by car washes, ice scrapers, and road debris.
To prolong the wiper blades’ life, take a minute to clean the blade surface when clean your windshield. A soft rag and some glass cleaner will do the trick.

In winter weather, remove ice and snow from the windshield before turning on the windshield wipers. Blades can freeze to the glass surface. The rubber blades will tear before the wiper arms are damaged.

Most wiper blades have hook-type mounts. Normally, no tools are required to make the replacement. The wiper arm is lifted off of the glass surface and the blade is rotated 180 degrees down the wiper arm. Each blade is slightly different, but most have a release clip that keeps the blade in place.

If the wiper blade replacement job is more than you want to tackle, almost every automotive repair shop, or auto auction with car services, will be happy to replace it for you. Tire stores, car dealerships, oil change shops, and some auto auction service stations that have a mechanic on duty will change the blades for a nominal fee. Many auto parts stores will change your wiper blades for free when you buy the blades from them.

Choosing the right windshield washing fluid can also prolong the life of your wiper blades. The anti-freeze used in your car’s engine is not right for your windshield. Additives can deteriorate rubber and harm the car’s painted surfaces. In warmer climates, clean water may be all that is needed. Pre-mixed washer fluids are a better alternative. Washer fluids are tailored to the weather conditions. In the summer months, “Bug Remover” is a good choice. “De-icer” works well in winter climates. Ethylene glycol keeps the fluid from freezing in the reservoir and helps to melt ice and snow on the glass surface while driving.

Windshield wipers have come a long way since inventor Mary Anderson took out the first patent in 1903. Pay just a little attention to these simple devices and you will enjoy a clean, clear view of the road!

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