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A streaky windshield isn't just annoying, it's dangerous. Don't let your wiper blades put you into a risky situation. We'll show you how to change them. Watch all of our Autoblog Wrenched videos for more tips on how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars from professional detailer Larry Kosilla. While you're at it, check out Larry's other car cleaning and maintenance video series Autoblog Details!
A streaky windshield is not just annoying, it's dangerous. If your windshield wipers are giving you fits, or the wiper fluid won't squirt, I will show you a few tricks for Crystal clean glass. Here's what you'll need to complete the job:
Eliminate the streaks
Windshield wipers tend to get ignored, until you go to use them in the rain or snow, and there's no time to discover the wipers are worn, and you can't see the road ahead. And think about the last time you hit your washer fluid button, and nothing happened. Both of these problems can be easily avoided. - Even though I obsessively clean my windshield, I still get streaks sometimes. Is there anything I can do to the wiper blades themselves to prevent that? - Absolutely. A lot of times, you just have some imperfections and stuff on the blade, which you can clean. Also, the windshield could be dirty.
Sharpen your blades
But, if the blades are damaged, you have to replace them. There's no way around that. You should replace your blades every six months. Spring and fall is a good time to do it. First, run your fingers down the blade. Is it smooth, or do you feel build up? To clean your blades, put some isopropyl rubbing alcohol, or glass cleaner on a clean, light-colored soft cloth, and lightly stroked down the length of the blade. Do this a few times, and you'll see black streaks on the cloth. It's a good idea to do this every time you wash your car.
If it's time to change your blades, keep in mind, when you're replacing them, they are actually sold by length. Auto parts stores usually have an application guide, on the wiper display, where you can easily look up the required sizes for the front, and rear windshields.
Wiper Anatomy 101
There are three basic style mounts: side post, J hook, and bayonet, however, aftermarket, or upgraded blades have adapters to fit various mounts. Check the existing blade to select the appropriate clip. To remove your old blade, a tab, or sometimes a button will need to be pressed so the plastic is released from the wiper arm. Try to remember how the old blade was attached, to make the new installation easier. Try to avoid inexpensive replacement blades, as they can streak, and typically wear out quicker.
While most people simply replace the entire unit, you can also install just a refill, which is the flexible rubber part. Typically, you can only do this on your original factory blades, or just a few aftermarket styles. Refills take longer to install, and can be a bit frustrating to get right, but they were cheaper than replacement blades, and if purchased from the dealer, they are the same original equipment quality, so it's a good alternative if you're on a budget.
There are also different types of wiper blades, and brackets as well: beam style, and old conventional bracket style. Beam style is more aerodynamic, and becoming the standard on most vehicles today, because they are smoother, and less likely to create wind drag, or noise. There's also winter blades for severe weather, which are more resistant to freezing up, as the frame is more rigid, and the rubber is a special synthetic designed to work well in cold winter climates. It's a good habit to replace wiper blades in pairs, and don't forget to replace the back wiper too, if you have one.
A close shave
Thoroughly clean the windshield before installing the new blades, and use a razor blade if necessary to remove hard debris on the windshield, which can damage the rubber of the new wiper. Use a razor blade roughly at a 30-degree angle, sort of like shaving the glass, and no, you won't scratch the glass if it's angled properly.
Don't forget your washer fluid
When filling up your washer reservoir, it's never a good idea to use plain water, especially in northern climates, as it can freeze and crack the lines. It's cheap and easy to stick with an all weather washer fluid mix, and then switch to a winter deicing solution as winter approaches. If your washer jets are not aimed properly, use a pin or a paperclip to poke into the hole, and redirect the aim. You can also use the pin to unclog a wax filled, or plugged jet. Before waxing your car, put tape on the Jets to avoid getting excess product in the hole, which will dry, and block, or at least redirect the flow of the washer fluid. Driving in a rain or snow storm is no time to discover your wipers need replacing. Regular maintenance of your wipers and washer fluid will help you keep seeing the road ahead, in any season. For more how to car repair videos, visit Autoblog Wrenched.