Windscreen wiper maintenance is often overlooked. We deal regularly with used cars for sale in the UK – and almost every vehicle that’s passed through our hands has needed a fresh set of wiper blades because the previous owner neglected to change them.
They’re not a set-and-forget item. Wiper blades are perishable items that normally last about a year. However, you’ll drastically reduce their usable life if you use your car in the winter months and ask your wipers to cut through the extra salt and road grime.
However, you can take a few precautions to prolong the life of your wipers. For starters, don’t use them to clear your windscreen of dirt and ice – use a cloth and some glass cleaner for the former and an ice scraper for the latter. You’ll cut the rubbers to ribbons in no time.
It’s also worth parking your car out of direct sunlight if you can. Sunlight makes wiper blades dry out, which reduces their effectiveness. Don’t use your wipers on a dry screen, either. That horrible scraping noise is the sound of the blades tearing themselves apart on the glass due to lack of lubrication.
How to clean your windscreen wiper blades
For the love of whatever deity you admire, please do not use WD40 to clean your wiper blades. It’s an oil, which will leave streaks on your windscreen that your wiper blades will be unable to remove. That’ll impair your vision further – so leave the tin on the shelf and follow our advice.
Get a couple of rags and a bucket of soapy water or a bowl filled with a vinegar-water mixture. Lift your wiper arms off your windscreen so they stay up on their own. Then, moisten your rag with your liquid of choice and run it along the wiper blade until you’re no longer removing any grime.
Finally, get a clean wet rag and repeat the process to remove any soap or vinegar residue from the screen. Then, lower the wiper arms back onto the windscreen.
Replacing your windscreen wiper blades
When your wipers start leaving streaks on your windscreen, it’s time to replace them. Don’t go to your dealership for this – they’ll charge you a small fortune. Instead head down to your local auto spares provider with the make, model and year of your car.
The clerk on the desk will find the correct wiper blades for your car (which will probably set you back about £15) and then you can fit them yourself at home, saving some cash in the process. It isn’t a difficult task, either. The steps we’ve outlined below work for most cars.
Start by standing up the wiper arms again. Then, find the point at which the wiper arm meets the wiper blade. There’ll be a tab holding it in place. Press it and slide the old wiper blade off its mount.
Fit the new wiper blade by performing the same action in reverse. Some older cars have a hook mount into which the blade slides, while a lot of modern cars have a push-lock mount. If you’re stuck, it’s worth checking for how-to videos for your specific car. Some manufacturers, such as Ford, have even created their own official how-to guides on changing wiper blades.
Once you have the blades in place, simply lower your wiper arms back onto the windscreen (gently – you don’t want to replace your windscreen, too) and enjoy your new-found clear vision!