How to Care, Restore, and Replace the Wiper Blades

Updated on February 22 2024

The windshield wipers in your vehicle are necessary in maintaining visibility when driving in the rain. Furthermore, having a reliable set of wiper blades makes it easier to rid the windshield of dust and dirt upon activating the windshield washer. Come to think about it, when was the last time you replaced the wiper blades in your car? Also, when did you last inspect those precious wipers for wear and tear?

Welcome to Automart's first installment of do-it-yourself (DIY) car care tips. In this guide, we'll discuss the wiper blades and how to improve windshield visibility in all types of weather.

When should I replace the wiper blades in my car?

Okay, let’s clarify one thing before proceeding. When we say, ‘windshield wipers,’ we’re referring to the entire wiper stalk – yes, those pointy things that move across the windshield when it rains. On the other hand, the wiper blades are part of the wiper stalk assembly. The wiper blades contain those rubbery things that contact the windshield.

And yes, only the wiper blades need replacing. You don’t need to replace the entire wiper stalk unless damage occurs from mishandling or accidents.

Now, to answer the question of when to replace the wiper blades, remember the following tips:

Tip 1: Replace the wiper blades every six months or at least once a year.

Tip 2: If you notice the wipers are skipping, squeaking, chattering, smearing, or streaking and making annoying noises, replace the wiper blades.

Tip 3: In the Philippines, it’s a good idea to replace the wiper blades before the rainy months of June to August. The harsh summer months from March to May will have degraded the rubber of your wiper blades, making them inadequate during heavy rain and inclement weather.

What causes the wiper blades to fail?

Like all exterior rubber and plastic components, the wiper blades will degrade when exposed to extreme heat and cold. Ultraviolet light from the sun and ozone deterioration are the primary killers of exposed plastic and rubber, particularly the wiper blades (the wiper stalks are steel and aluminum, making them more resistant to heat and cold).

The wiper blades will also encounter sand, dust, mud, insects, and airborne debris in your many journeys, further contributing to wiper blade deterioration. Additionally, exposure to acid rain, saltwater, industrial fallout, and even tree sap can lead to wiper blade failure.

Keep in mind that faulty or worn-out wiper blades will reduce visibility and cause unrepairable scratches and cuts on the windshield glass.

How do I inspect the wiper blades in my vehicle?

It’s a splendid idea to give those wipers a thorough inspection each time you wash your car. If you don’t have time to clean your vehicle, inspect the wipers at least once a month or after going to the car wash. Also, make sure to check the rear windshield wipers if you have a hatchback, crossover, or SUV.

Here are the easy steps on how to inspect the wiper blades.

Step 1: Raise the wipers from the windshield, making sure not to drop the wipers suddenly to avoid cracking the windshield glass (yes, it happens).

Step 2: Check the steel or aluminum frame of the wipers. Look for signs of corrosion and detached frame arms at certain joints and connection points.

Step 3: After inspecting the wiper stalks, focus your attention on the wiper blades and check for signs of cracks, tears, and missing rubber pieces from the rubber squeegee.

Step 4: If you don’t find cracks or tears, lightly bend the rubber squeegee back and forth to check for flexibility. Aging rubber will crack or split when bent and aged rubber causes streaking.

Step 5: Lastly, check the edges of the rubber squeegee. Rounded edges are signs of wear and tear and will also cause streaking. Good wiper blades have square edges that conform to the shape of the glass.

How to Replace Wiper Blades

When it comes to replacing the wiper blades, there are two ways to do it. The economical method is to install a new rubber squeegee and reuse the wiper blade assembly. Using this approach,  you will only spend P100 to P200 each for a new rubber squeegee.

The next tactic is to replace the entire wiper blade assembly (not including the wiper stalks, of course), which includes the rubber squeegee. The steps below are for this method.

However, take note that fresh wiper blades will cost anywhere from P170 to P400 each. Modern wiper blades with silicone rubber squeegees will cost more (around P1,000 to P1,200 each).

Here are the easy steps on how to replace the wiper blades.

Step 1: Determine the length of the wiper blades in your vehicle with a measuring tape before buying a new set. In most cases, the left and right wiper blades will not be of the same size or length.

Step 2: Park the vehicle in a safe and well-lit area. Turn the ignition off and engage the parking brake.

Step 3: Raise the wipers from the glass.

Step 4: Most wiper blades are held in place by plastic clips. Push the tab to loosen the wiper blade and push downward to slide the old wiper blade away from the stalk.

Step 5: Take the new wiper blade, align the plastic tab with the hook at the end of the stalk, and push upwards. If you hear a click, the wiper blade is secure.

Step 6: Repeat the above steps for the other wiper blades in your car.

How can I extend the life of my wiper blades?

We’re glad you asked! Even though the wiper blades are one of the most neglected maintenance items in your vehicle, there are certain things you can do to prolong the life of your new and existing wiper blades.

Tip 1: Clean the windshield regularly, preferably every time you fill-up the gas tank. A clean windshield averts premature wear and tear of the wiper blades.

Tip 2: Do not use soap or detergent when cleaning the wiper blades or your vehicle in general. Dish soap or Joy Ultra is ideal for washing dishes, but it’s not suitable for washing cars, especially rubber and plastic exterior parts. Strong detergents and dish soap will also strip or dissolve the protective layer of wax on the paint.

Tip 3: Instead, use mild soapy water using car shampoo to clean your vehicle, including the wiper blades.

Tip 4: When parked under direct sun, it’s a brilliant idea to lift the wipers from the windshield. This method will somehow prolong the life of the rubber squeegee by avoiding intense heat from the glass.

Tip 5: Finally, avoid operating the wipers when the glass is dry. Always engage the washers to lubricate the glass surface before turning the wipers ON.

How can I restore dry or cracked wiper blades?

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Did you know WD-40 is applicable for restoring dry or cracked wiper blades? Of course, this technique has its limitations and is only suitable for undamaged wiper blades. If the rubber squeegee is splitting or cracking, you’re better off replacing it than restoring the wipers.

However, if your wiper blades are relatively fine, here’s what you need to do to restore their wiping efficacy.

Step 1: It’s better to clean the wiper blades beforehand using a damp terry cloth towel. Fold the towel in half, raise the wiper from the glass, and run the cloth over the rubber squeegee. Don’t be surprised if you remove lots of dirt, muck, or grime.

Step 2: Repeat step 1 until the wiper blades are clean.

Step 3: Grab a can of WD-40 and a clean cloth. Spray a liberal amount of WD-40 to the towel and wipe over the rubber squeegee. The WD-40 will help remove deep-seated dirt while lubricating the rubber.

Step 4: Turn the towel over and wipe off the excess.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 to 4 for all the wipers in your vehicle (including the rear wiper).

Step 6: An optional and final step is to apply a light coat of silicone grease on the rubber squeegee to protect against UV exposure and intense heat.

Remember to clean the wiper blades every time you clean the car. Don’t forget to reapply WD-40 on the wiper blades at least once a month to protect the rubber from early wear and degradation.

Conclusion

Windshield wipers have a nasty habit of failing when you need them most. Consider cleaning, restoring, or replace the wiper blades at the first signs of streaking, skipping, or squeaking when engaging the wipers. Having a decent pair of wipers in a sudden downpour is cheap insurance against unwanted accidents.