Wiper blades need no introduction, but they're a vital safety component installed on every car. Nor are they as straightforward as you'd think, as there are several different types available.
Wiper blades generally come in one of three different styles: 'conventional', 'flat', and 'hybrid'.
Conventional wipers have an articulated metal frame with the blade attached, whereas flat wipers contain a thick rubber blade with a connection block in the middle.
Hybrid wipers are kind of a cross between the two, but the frame that the blade is attached to acts as an aerodynamic spoiler which pushes the blades onto the windshield, providing better contact at speed.
If your car has conventional-style wipers you can still install flat or hybrid wipers, and they're commonly fitted to give both a performance and visual upgrade.
Most cars feature 'normal wipers' which pivot from a linkage mounted below the cowl panel immediately in front of the windshield. Some cars have wipers that pivot from the corners of the windshield, and 'park' in the A pillars when not in use.
Many wipers can be removed and replaced with them in the 'park' position, but others with hidden wipers require them to be put in the maintenance position. Check your owner’s manual and/or repair manual for details.
Wipers come in many different lengths, so you'll want to make sure you get the correct length for your car. While many retailers will sell model-specific sets that are the correct length, it's always worth measuring your existing blades to be on the safe side.
The year, make, and model is usually the only information you’ll need to order replacement wiper blades. Occasionally there is a difference between a four-door and two-door wiper refill lengths on some models.
It's not just the length of the blades that you need to take note of - there are a variety of attachment mechanisms - but the two versions you're most likely to come across involve the wiper arm either being straight, or hooked.
On both wipers the blade can be released by squeezing a pair of tabs, or by sliding a latch. This will allow the blade to be removed – either by pulling straight off, or, when the arm is hooked, by unclipping the blade so it effectively slides back down the arm.
Some wiper kits come with the correct attachment for your car and others are 'multi-fit' and come with a selection of different adapters.
If yours is the latter, compare what's on the current wiper to make sure you select the correct adapter.