View of a car's windscreen wiper while driving on a motorway

How to fit and clean windscreen wipers

Why replace your windscreen wipers?

Replacing your windscreen wipers when damaged not only means that you’re getting a better view of the road, but also protects your windscreen itself. If your wipers have been worn down to the point where the metal of the blades is coming through, then every time you turn your wipers on they will be scratching the surface of the windscreen. While these little scratches may seem innocuous, they can obscure your vision of the road, and also weaken your windscreen, making cracks and chips more likely.

How to remove windscreen wipers 

Removing windscreen wipers is an easy job for the majority of vehicles, although it’s best to check your owner’s manual just to be sure you’re not in for a particularly tricky experience., and have a clean cloth to hand. To remove a wiper blade, you may find it easier to have it set to mid-sweep – so they’re pointing up rather than tucked underneath the bonnet. Simply unhook the connector and pull the wiper blade down from the hook, being wary that dirt may cause it to be sticky. Then gently place the empty wiper arm down on the screen, using the cloth to protect the glass – remember that wiper arms are spring loaded, so simply letting it go could chip, or worse crack, your windscreen.

How to fit windscreen wipers

Once you’ve removed the wiper blade from the wiper arm, it’s simply a case of doing everything you’ve already done, just in reverse. Holding the wiper arm up carefully, pull the connector for the new blade into the hook and wait for a click. Once it is in place, simply carefully lower the blade back down onto the windscreen and perform a test swipe with the windscreen washer. If fitted correctly they’ll leave a streak-free finish without any squeaking or skipping, and if there is then you’ll need to make some minor adjustments until they are working correctly.

What type of windscreen wipers do I need?

When searching for replacement wipers, you’re more than likely searching for wiper blades as opposed to the wipers themselves, as this is the part that actually makes contact with the screen and is more prone to wear. When heading into your nearest parts shop, make sure you’re picking up the right blade, though, as you don’t want to find yourself picking up a type that is not compatible with your car. But what types are there?

  • Standard Type Wiper Blades
    • The most common type of wiper blades available, they are still fitted to the majority of new vehicles, but numbers are beginning to decline. Sometimes referred to as “coat hangers” due to their look, sizes range from 10” to 28” and you will often find that the size differs between driver and passenger sides of the screen. These can be replaced with another set of standard blades, or the newer flat wiper blade.
  • Flat Wiper Blades
    • A new style and technology of blade, flat blades are on the way to becoming the standard fit on all new vehicles. Replacing the coat hanger frame, with a tensioned metal strip running along the rubber structure of the wiper blade, which allows for a flatter aerodynamic shape which in turn reduced wind noise. The other positive to being smaller is that it obscures less of your view of the road. If these are fitted to your car from new, then you can only fit similar types in future, while if you have the standard type of blade you can choose for a retrofit flat wiper blade upgrade.
  • Hybrid Wiper Blades
    • Combining the solid structure of a conventional wiper with the aerodynamic shape of a flat blade, hybrid blades are made from an articulated plastic frame creating an aerodynamic ‘skin’ around the blade itself. Under the plastic frame is a steel substructure which provides the support for the rubber blade. One of the biggest positives of this blade type is the way the design allows the entire wiper to flex to the shape of the windscreen, ensuring every part of the screen gets cleaned.
  • Spoiler Type Wiper Blades
    • Incorporating a full spoiler that runs the entire length of the blade, these blades are often found on the driver’s side only. The design of the spoiler allows the blade to remain close to the screen at higher speeds, and is usually attached to the vehicle by a hook-shaped wiper arm fitting.
  • Specific Fit Wiper Blades
    • Certain cars require specific blades designed specifically for the car in question and can often be found on rear windows. If your car has an Original Equipment specific style, then you will only be able to use the same type.

What size windscreen wipers do I need?

As there are a wide range of vehicles out there, it’s no surprise that there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” windscreen wiper option. Wipers can range from 9” up to 32”, or 250mm up to 813mm. Replacing with a blade that is too small will mean parts of the screen won’t get cleaned, whereas blades that are too big will wear quicker, and will also be prone to damage or tangling. To find out what size you need, your owner’s manual should be able to let you know, alternatively most general motor part shops will have tools to be able to let you know exactly what blade size to be buying.

How often should you change your windscreen wipers?

Your wiper blades are designed to be used for between six and twelve months – although this is, of course, depending on the amount you use them, the environment you drive in and the quality of the blades you buy. If you’ve started to notice your blades aren’t cleaning as well as they should, such as streaking, smearing or skipping along the screen, then it’s time to replace them.

How to clean windscreen wipers

If you’ve noticed your blades aren’t cleaning the screen as well as they should be, you don’t instantly need to get a new set of wiper blades and a quick clean may be all you need to be able to see clearly again. To clean your wiper blades, all you need is some warm soapy water (or washer fluid), surgical spirit and a handful of rags, paper towers or a sponge. Do not – ever – try and use WD40 to clean your blades as this will only make your blades worse, causing smears every time you use the wipers.

To start with, wash your car with warm soapy water, making sure to give the windscreen a proper clean. Lift the windscreen wiper arms up, as if you were changing the blades, and wipe them down with some hot soapy water on your rag, sponge or paper towel. You can also wash them with a mixture of water and vinegar, which will also soften the rubber blades, which can be good for wipers that haven’t seen action in a while. Just remember to remove the vinegar mixture with a damp cloth before you set off again.

Remember the rubber is incredibly fragile, so make sure you do this carefully, and continue until there is no more dirt left on your cleaning rag or sponge. Don’t forget to clean the arms and mechanism, too, as this can also be prone to dirt or debris causing issues with your wipers. Give the wiper one final wipe with surgical spirit to remove any soapy residue, and give a test wipe to make sure you’ve made the situation better, not worse.

 

 

If you’ve had an accident as a result of poor visibility due to wipers that should have been replaced or cleaned, you may be looking at a repair bill that’s much more than you’re prepared to pay. If that’s the case, we at Scrap Car Comparison will be more than happy to help with scrapping your car, and with a quick visit to our online quote generator we can promise you the very best price for your vehicle in just a matter of moments.
For more hints and tips on how to keep your car ticking over as best as possible, and keeping you on the road safely and legally, visit our Car Care hub, where we guide you through every aspect of your driving career from start to finish.

 
 

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