How wiper blades work

Wiper Blade Replacement Image

There is nothing complicated about how windshield wipers work, they are a mechanized version of a squeegee used to clean your windows. Flip the switch and a motor moves them back and forth to clear rain, snow, or windshield washer fluid from the glass. A sprung wiper arm holds them against the glass, even at highway speeds.

But in order to work well, wiper blades need to be smooth, flat, and flexible. When they become dry, cracked, or rough, they leave streaks as they move across the window. Once they age and lose their flexibility, they have trouble following the curve of the windshield and leave portions un-wiped as they go.

Luckily, that can all be fixed in minutes by replacing the blades.

Every car is different, so before you view the full instructions, find yours...

Why you should change your wiper blades

Even if you don’t live in an area that gets much rain, your car’s wiper blades should be replaced every 12 months. Without even using them, the rubber blade gradually degrades due to exposure to heat, sunlight, pollution, and cold temperatures, and its wiping performance worsens. You don't want to discover the blades are dry, brittle and streaky when you activate your washer/wipers due to something suddenly making it hard to see out the windshield.

To avoid wear on the wiper motor, linkage, and the blades themselves, switch off the wipers when the rain stops to avoid putting unnecessary strain on them. In freezing conditions, make sure the wipers aren’t stuck to the windshield or rear screen before you using them. Check before you turn on the ignition in cars with automatic wipers. 

New wiper blades are easy to fit, relatively cheap to buy and will boost visibility in bad weather, so they’re a wise investment.

This task requires no experience and usually no tools are needed. It’ll take you a couple of minutes.

You may want to save money and just replace the rubber element instead of the entire blade, but you will end up spending much more time doing it this way.

When to change your wiper blades

“The rubber blade gradually degrades due to exposure to heat, sunlight, pollution, and cold temperatures, and its wiping performance worsens”

Haynes recommends you change your wiper blades once a year, preferably before the start of the rainy season, whichever that is in your area. Even without rain, after a year in the sun exposed to grime and road pollution, the rubber will be less effective of cleaning the windshield when you need it most.

It’s important to change all wiper blades at the same time, so both at the front windshield and the rear window blade, if you have one.

All cars are slightly different, so if it is time to change your wiper blades, use our before you begin checklist, and find your car for specific instructions.

How to change your wiper blades

This is a sample video. Find the full step-by-step task for your model in the manual.

There are several different types of bracket on the end of the wiper arm, but most replacement blades are universal fitment.

Here's a brief rundown of the replacement procedure:

  1. Lift the arm from the window and press the tab to release the wiper blade from the arm.
  2. Side the new wiper blade into the hook of the arm until you hear it click.
  3. Flat-bladed wipers have a slightly different attachment.
  4. If you’re replacing just the rubber part of the blade, squeeze the prongs at the end of the blade and slide the rubber out.
  5. Slide in the new rubber, making sure it’s held securely by the metal strips.

Every car is different, so for complete instructions, find yours here...


Don’t forget to replace the rear wiper blade too. Seeing behind you in bad weather can be just as important as seeing in front.

Before you begin

Tools you will need

Few, if any, tools are required for this job.

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Flat-bladed screwdriver

Parts you may need

  • Wiper blades (buy a name brand for performance and durability)