How to change your windshield wipers

Can't see in front of you? Here's how to change your windshield wipers

windshield wiper
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

As fall sets in, you might notice that it’s getting harder and harder to see out the front window of your car. If your windshield wipers don’t clear your windshield, or if they leave nasty streaks as they move, it’s time for a new set of blades. Thankfully, changing a car’s wiper blades is a quick job that’s well within the reach of every motorist. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never worked on a car before, if you don’t own a single tool, or if you don’t like tinkering with cars to begin with. Put away the overalls; we promise this isn’t a job where you need to get dirty. Here’s how to change wiper blades.

Step 1: Buy the right wipers

Look around and you’ll notice the vast majority of cars on the road use two windshield wipers. Some, like older Mercedes-Benz sedans, only have one wiper that’s mounted right in the middle of the windshield. Others, such as the Toyota FJ Cruiser, use three. We suggest changing them all at the same time regardless of how many you’re dealing with. Keep in mind your car might have a rear wiper, too, especially if it’s a hatchback or an SUV.

You can buy wiper blades from any auto parts store, dealership, or supermarket with an automotive aisle. Even some gas stations carry them, and if all else fails, you’re sure to find them from parts vendors online. You can cheap out and get a basic set, but we recommend buying a pair of high-quality wiper blades from a well-known supplier like Bosch. They’re more expensive than entry-level units, but they’ll clear your windshield with ease and last much longer, too.

Wiper blades aren’t one-size-fits-all, but they’re a lot like tires in the sense that a specific type fits several cars. The list of compatible models is conveniently found on the back of the packaging. Our lab rat for this article is a classic Mercedes w123 from the late ’70s. The blades we bought also fit the BMW Z3, the Nissan Cube, and the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, among dozens of other cars. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re not sure which kind to buy.

Step 2: Remove the old blades

There are no tools required to change a set of wiper blades. Each blade is mounted on a wiper arm, which is a piece of metal with a curved end. First, lift up the wiper blade (it’s spring-loaded) so it’s almost perpendicular to your windshield. The blade should move freely. Rotate it 90 degrees and push down on the middle part of it, where it’s attached to the arm. In most cars, you’ll need to squeeze a plastic tab while you push. It takes a small amount of effort to get the blade loose. Work it around the end of the wiper arm to remove it entirely.

Step 3: Fit the new blades

Grab your new blade, slide it onto the wiper arm, and insert the plastic part in the middle into the loop at the end of the arm. You’ll hear a distinct clicking sound when the blade is properly installed. Again, this shouldn’t require a tremendous amount of effort.

Return the wiper arm to its original position and you’re done! It’s really that simple. Repeat the process to install the second blade and turn on the wipers when you’re done to make sure everything works as it should. If your car jettisons a loose blade, it’s better to have it happen in your driveway than when you’re cruising at 75 miles per hour on the freeway. While you’re at it, top up your washer fluid and, while you’ve got the hood open, check your oil.

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