How to Change Windshield Wipers Yourself

Keep more money in your wallet by learning how to tackle this simple DIY repair.

By Timothy Dale | Published Nov 23, 2021 8:32 PM

how to change windshield wipers

Photo: istockphoto.com

In order to drive safely it’s necessary to be able to see where you are going, which is why learning how to change windshield wipers is a key skill for any driver. Figuring out how to replace windshield wipers isn’t all that difficult. In fact, learning how to take off windshield wipers may be harder than grasping how to put on windshield wipers, but the entire process is relatively straightforward.

You can tell when wiper blades need to be changed by regularly inspecting the blades—at least once a month. When the rubber begins to wear or crack, or if you notice that the wiper blades smear water, leave a thin layer of water on the windshield, or only clear a portion of the windshield, then it’s time to learn how to change windshield wiper blades. Follow these steps to determine how to install windshield wipers, so you can avoid paying your local mechanic for this simple DIY job.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Before you learn how to change wiper blades on a car, you need to know the different parts of the windshield wipers. Wipers are made with three basic parts: The wiper arm, which attaches directly to the car, the wiper blade, which attaches to the arm and holds the rubber insert, and the rubber insert, which is responsible for cleaning away water. Typically, when you need to change windshield wipers you will be replacing the wiper blades. In some cases you may replace the rubber insert, but this isn’t a common repair.

STEP 1: Measure the wiper blade size and get compatible replacement blades.

how to change windshield wipers

Photo: istockphoto.com

The first step in changing the windshield wipers on a vehicle is to use a tape measure in order to determine the correct size of wiper that you will need for the vehicle. Make sure to measure both wiper blades because there are many vehicles that use one short blade and one long blade to keep the windshield clean. To ensure that you get the right wiper blades, it’s a good idea to write down or record the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

With this information in hand, jump online, drive to a local automotive parts store, or go to your neighborhood Walmart to pick up a compatible pair of windshield wipers for your vehicle. If you are still unsure which wiper blades you need, ask an employee to help you figure it out because if you get the wrong wiper blades, they may not be the right length or the correct attachment for your vehicle.

STEP 2: Remove the old wiper blades.

how to change windshield wipers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Once you have a new set of compatible wiper blades you can start the job. Removing windshield wipers isn’t a complex process, though initially learning how to remove wiper blades can be tricky if you have never seen it done before. Begin by lifting the windshield wiper arm away from the windshield and laying down an old towel. The towel will catch the arm if it snaps back into position, preventing the windshield from getting damaged in the process. Alternatively, you could put a sock over the arm after the old wiper blade has been removed and lower the arm to the windshield until you are ready to replace the blade.

Locate the small tab on the windshield wiper blade where the wiper blade meets the wiper arm. By pressing this small tab, you can release the old wiper blade and slide it off the wiper arm hook. However, if the windshield wipers have a pin instead of a hook, then you will want to pull up on the blade’s tab, then remove the blade from the pin on the wiper’s arm. You can also use a flat-head screwdriver to help press or lift the tab, if necessary.

STEP 3: Install the new wiper blades.

how to change windshield wipers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Installing the wiper blades is as easy as sliding the new wiper blade into the exact same slot as the old wiper blade. Simply line up the new blade with the hook on the wiper arm and slide it up until you hear and feel a click that indicates the blade has snapped into place. Just make sure that you install the correct wiper blade on the correct wiper arm as some vehicles have mismatched wiper blade sizes and mixing these up can result in the wipers not working correctly.

If your windshield wipers use pin-type connections instead of the more common hook connection then you have to slip the new blade over the pin and close the tab to lock the new blade in place. Repeat the process with the second wiper blade, then remove the towel and gently lower the wipers to the windshield.

STEP 4: Test the newly installed wiper blades.

how to change windshield wipers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Any time you complete a repair on your vehicle, the final step in the process should be testing the new parts to make sure that they are installed correctly. If you don’t want to wait for it to rain, then wet the windshield with a hose or by spraying windshield wiper fluid. This provides the new wipers with a wet surface to slide across and will also give you a good idea about whether the new wiper blades are cleaning the windshield properly.

Turn on the ignition and start the wipers. If there are any streaks, then consider cleaning the rubber on the wipers with alcohol wipes to remove any debris. Test the wipers again. If you are still getting streaks or the wipers don’t seem to be cleaning the windshield evenly, the wipers may not be secured on the wiper arms or you may have gotten the wrong wiper blades.

Inspect the wipers and make any corrections necessary to the installation. If everything checks out and you are still experiencing problems, you may need to take the vehicle to your local mechanic to find out what is causing the issue.

Regular wiper maintenance can extend the life of the blades.

Windshield wipers should be replaced at least once every year, but if you find that your wiper blades are wearing out more quickly, then you may be doing one or more things that could be causing premature damage to the blades. To help keep your wiper blades in good shape, use a soft cloth to wipe away any visible debris before driving.

It’s also a good idea to avoid using the windshield wipers when the windshield is dry or covered in ice. A dry windshield results in the rubber blades being dragged across the glass, wearing down the rubber and potentially damaging the windshield in the process. Use an ice scraper to remove ice instead of relying on the wipers because ice can cut, gouge, and otherwise damage the rubber on your wipers.

Taking good care of your wiper blades helps ensure you’ll need to replace them only once a year, saving you time and money in the process.