Getting to know windscreen wipers

With heavy rain sweeping the country, we turn our attention to windscreen wipers for this week’s “Getting to Know” guide.


What is the function of windscreen wipers?


Windscreen wipers are a vital safety component, and are designed to increase visibility by clearing dirt and moisture from the front and rear screens.


What is the typical lifespan of windscreen wiper blades?


Windscreen wiper blades are made out of rubber and have a limited lifespan (around six months to a year), even if they are not frequently used. Therefore, they should be inspected on a regular basis for cracks and splits.


What steps can I take to make the blades last as long as possible?


The following actions can be taken to help prolong the lifespan of the blades:


  • Make sure that your windscreen is kept clean and free of debris;
  • In cold weather, remove any snow and ice from the windscreen before turning on the wipers;
  • Always keep the windscreen washer fluid topped up; and
  • Try to park in a location which is out of direct sunlight (i.e. in the shade).

How do I know if the windscreen wiper blades need replacing?


There are a few telltale signs that your windscreen blades may need changing. These are namely:


  • They leave streaks on the windscreen;
  • They skip due to being out of shape;
  • They squeak when they run across the screen; and
  • Smears occur on the windshield. 

How do you change the blades on windscreen wipers?


The following is a simple 10-step guide for changing the windscreen wiper blades (front or rear).


  1. Before you start, measure the wiper blade length or check your car’s owner’s manual to purchase the correct specification and blade size.
  2. Once you have the replacement blades, switch on the ignition and activate the wipers.
  3. Turn the engine off when the wipers are in a vertical position as this makes the blades easier to change.
  4. Pull the wiper arms away from the windscreen.
  5. Depress the small tab on the underside of the wiper where it meets the wiper arm.
  6. Slide the old wiper blade off the arm by pulling downwards.
  7. Pull the new wiper blade tight onto the arm. You will hear a clicking sound when it locks into place.
  8. Lower the wiper arm back onto the windshield slowly and repeat this process on the other wiper arm (front screen only).
  9. Take care not to damage the windscreen when lowering the arm.
  10. Discard the old wiper blades safely.


For a more interactive guide for changing the blades, there are numerous “how-to” videos on the Internet that you can watch as necessary.


How much do windscreen wiper blades cost?


The price of the blades depends on the specification and brand. It is worth shopping around to get quotes for the blades themselves, and for fitting if you require a garage to change the blades for you.


Where can I find a business to have my windscreen wiper blades replaced?


To find an independent garage or franchised car dealership which is accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair, visit The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder.


Image courtesy of The Sun.