There are few things more annoying than having wipers that don't clear the screen properly! You go to wipe away the rain and the wipers leave a great big smear, usually right across your line of sight. And then there's the screeching!
Noisy wipers are hugely irritating. Both of these are signs that it's time to invest in a new set of wipers.
Some people choose to take their car to the garage for a replacement, but you run the risk of being massively overcharged for what is actually one of the most simple DIY jobs you can carry out on your car.
Don't be fooled into thinking you have to buy the whole wiper arm either (as some main dealers are all too fond of telling people!
In virtually all cases it's just the 'blade' section that you need to swap.
What are the different types of wiper blades?
There are three main styles of wiper blades: 'conventional', 'flat', and 'hybrid'.
You can spot conventional wipers as they have an articulated metal frame with the blade attached. They're the kind that have been standard issue on many cars for decades. In more recent years flat wipers have grown in popularity.
They're comprised of a thick blade with a small plastic connection block in the middle.
Hybrid wipers are a kind of mixture of the two, and the 'frame' of the blade acts as an aerodynamic spoiler.
This is intended to push the blade onto the screen to prevent it lifting at speed.
If your car currently has conventional wipers you can upgrade to flat, or hybrid wipers, for improved aesthetics and performance.
Rear wipers are usually a lot smaller than the fronts, and although plenty of cars have the same style wipers as on the front, some cars feature a model-specific rear wiper with the arm and the blade integrated as one unit.
These need to be replaced as one, and are usually held onto a splined shaft by means of a small nut.
How to buy new wiper blades
You need to ensure you get the correct length wipers for your car as they come in many different lengths.
Most retailers will sell sets designed for your particular car, but it's never a bad idea to measure yours first just to make sure they'll fit.
There are a wide range of prices, with seemingly similar wipers costing considerably more than budget options.
It's always wise to seek out online reviews before buying as more expensive doesn't always equate to them being better. Even the cheapest of wipers should give a couple of years of service.
Fitting new wiper blades
To remove the old blades first pull the wiper arm forward – but be careful, they're spring loaded so will 'snap' back against the window if you're not careful.
If you're not sure how yours operate it's wise to check in your handbook as there are some cars where the wipers 'park' out of sight below the bonnet line, or behind the windscreen pillars.
In these instances the wipers may need to be set to their 'maintenance position' where they come to rest in the middle of the screen, allowing you to pull the blade forward.
There are lots of different fittings on the market but you're most likely to encounter either straight, or hooked wiper arms.
The blades can generally be removed by sliding a latch, squeezing a pair of tabs, or pushing a clip in. You might need to use a bit of force, but don't overdo it.
With the clips released the blades will either pull off, or (in the case of hooked arms) the wiper needs to be slid down the wiper arm to free it from the hook.
When the wiper is separated from the arm take care not to allow the arm to snap back towards the windscreen. The spring action is very strong, and it's likely to chip or crack your screen.
Most wiper kits come with the correct attachment specifically for your car and others contain a range of fitting solutions. Ascertain what's currently on there and replace like-for-like.
Refitting, as they say, is the reverse of removal, just take note how they come off particularly if you have hooked wiper arms, as it can appear to be a little confusing.
How to maintain your wiper blades
Seeing as you're replacing the blades, use it as an opportunity to also top up your windscreen washer fluid.
We'd always advise using the correct fluid, and not washing up liquid (It foams too much, can damage window rubbers, and smears easily).
And where possible don't buy 'ready to use' fluid as you end up paying for someone else to have diluted it for you!
Always look after your wipers by giving them a good clean whenever you clean your car – Kitchen roll and glass cleaner works wonders.