Windscreen wipers are one of the most neglected items on our vehicles, here’s how to check and replace windscreen wiper blades.
OFTEN WE ONLY give a thought to our windscreen wipers when it is raining. However, our windscreen wipers are regularly used to clean other items from our windscreen, including insects, bugs, dust and road grime. Cleaning these items with our windscreen wipers forces them to work harder and places more strain on the various components than heavy rain would.
When it does rain, we rely for our safety on the wipers clearing the windscreen. There is nothing more dangerous than being caught on the road in a violent storm only to find that our windscreen wipers do nothing to actually clear the water from the windscreen, succeeding only in smearing things across the glass. This leads to even further problems when we mix in the glare of oncoming headlights and we find that we are driving almost blind.
If there is a large amount of debris on the windscreen such as bird droppings then clean that off before the wipers are activated, as you’ll only damage the wipers and make a messy smear.
When is the correct time to check our windscreen wipers?
Checking your windscreen wipers regularly, perhaps each time you wash your vehicle, is a good starting point. Have them maintained at each service.
How do you check wipers?
- Has it been more than six months since your windscreen wipers were last replaced?
- Is the rubber blade, held correctly in position, or lying over on it’s side?
- Is the blade torn or perished?
- Is the windscreen wiper assembly bent, or damaged?
When it’s a dry spell, we tend to forget about our windscreen wipers, this may in fact be the best time to check their condition. The UV rays affect plastic and rubber and windscreen wipers are no different. The plastic backed wiper may become brittle or even mould to the shape of the lower part of the windscreen, when the wipers are in the parked position, making it all but impossible for the rubber blade to follow the contour of the windscreen glass, resulting in patches of your windscreen that are missed or have a poor wipe. Due to the plastic becoming brittle, the blade may not be held in the wiper arm correctly, causing the windscreen to become scratched or the assembly to break, rendering the windscreen wiper inoperative, possibly when you need it the most.
Poorly maintained wipers can even break off or bend in really heavy rain.
Should we just replace the windscreen rubber blade or the whole assembly?
Over time the old assembly may become worn, rivet points wear and the wiper action becomes loose. Putting a new blade in an old assembly will not last very long, as the blade is then held in the wrong position and may wear prematurely. As the assembly cannot hold the rubber at 90 degrees to the glass, this may result in poor cleaning and also may not clear the windscreen effectively.
The noise from a worn assembly can also be distracting and annoying. Replacing the whole assembly is probably the more prudent route to follow.
Where can we get replacement wipers?
Any automotive accessory shop. Best to take one of yours in to check it is the correct type when you buy. Don’t forget the rear wipers either!
Anything else while we’re at it?
Yes – check the water washer fluid. This can be just water, or perhaps a mix of water and special fluids which help dissolve bugs and other stains on the windscreen. In colder climes, ensure there’s some anti-freeze in there too.