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Martin Turner
March 9, 2021

Wiper blade maintenance

Wiper blades, thankfully, are a relatively cheap vehicle part. Their job, however, is a crucial one.

It’s essential to have wiper blades that are working properly, aren’t damaged and worn, and can clear your windscreen effectively. Wiper blades play a big part in overall driving visibility, and should always be properly maintained.

How to tell if wiper blades need replacing

If your wiper blades are worn and need replacing, then there are a few tell-tale signs. They might leave streaks or lines on the window or could sound quite noisy with squeaking or grinding sounds.

Wiper blades are made out of relatively thin strips of fabric, and their job involves delicate balance. They must clear the windscreen effectively, making a good level of contact, without scratching or damaging the glass. As a result, even though they’re used very regularly and might need to face snow and ice, they’re quite delicate and easily break.

Wiper blades that have become very worn or damaged might no longer move in one smooth motion. Instead, they might seem to scrape along the windscreen or temporarily get stuck in one place. You might also be able to see wiper blade damage, in the form of chips or marks in the rubber.

Finding the correct replacement blade

Replacement wiper blades come in all different sizes, to suit different vehicle makes and models.

To find the right length for your replacement wiper blade, start by checking the manual. Your vehicle’s manual should have the details that you need to make a purchase.

If you don’t have the manual or need another way to find this information, then you can simply measure the blades. Take the measurement in inches, as this is how they’ll be shown on the box.

Don’t assume that both wiper blades are the same. To interact successfully, many pairs of wiper blades have one that is shorter than the other.

You can also use some online tools to find the right blades for your vehicle.

Types of wiper blade

There are many different types and styles of wiper blade. When buying wiper blade replacements, this is something worth bearing in mind.

Standard/hinged wiper blades

Most vehicles use hinged wiper blades. They have a metal frame, with hinges that provide flexibility. These are usually the standard windscreen wipers, installed on most UK vehicles. The hinges control the range of movement.

Hingeless wiper blades

Wiper blades without hinges are less common. They’re made of flexible plastic, rather than metal with hinges, and may have a wider range of movement. But, these usually come at a higher price.

Winter wiper blades

Standard wiper blades, with exposed metal, can be damaged by rain, snow and ice. Winter wiper blades are almost the same as standard wiper blades but come with an additional coating. This coating protects the frame of the wiper blade from the worst weather conditions. Winter wiper blades can work better in cold weather and are less likely to be damaged by frost but will wear down quickly if they’re gliding over a dry windscreen.

Replacing only the wiper blade rubber itself

It’s possible to replace only the rubber of the worn wiper blade. This is cheaper than buying brand new windscreen wipers. Rubber refills, however, can be harder to fit. It’s much easier to completely replace a windscreen wiper, and pay more for the privilege.

Replacing the rubber of the wiper blade, without replacing the whole arm, can cut down the cost of car maintenance. But, pay close attention to the rest of the structure. Though the rest of the windscreen wiper blade will wear down more slowly, it is still wearing down. At some point, the whole thing will need replacing.

Replacing only one wiper blade

At first, you might find that only one wiper blade seems like it needs replacing. Only one is squeaking or leaving streaks across the windscreen. But, both blades have been through similar levels of work. 

It’s usually easier to replace a pair of windscreen wiper blades at the same time.

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Getting your car ready to sell
MOT Test Explained
Driving in dangerous conditions
Wiper blade maintenance