Having fully functioning windscreen wipers is, quite rightly, considered vital for road safety. The good news is, it’s simple to tell if your wipers – or rather the blades ‑ are on the way out. And with most modern cars it’s easy to replace worn windscreen wiper blades too.
How often should you change wiper blades?
This depends on the number of miles you cover and how often you use your wipers. It’s quite simple: the more windscreen wipers are used, the quicker they wear out. Some safety experts reckon they should be renewed annually. But for most drivers, unless the wiper blades have sustained damage, every two to three years should be sufficient.
How do you know if your wipers are worn out?
When the wipers are on the screen, they might judder against the glass, or leave streaks of water behind. It’s easy to see if they need replacing rather than cleaning. Lift the wiper arm off the screen and run your finger along the leading edge of the blade. If it feels brittle (rubber ages prematurely when exposed to UV light) or there are nicks and tears in the blade, they need replacing.
How to clean your wipers
Check your car’s user manual. Some have a maintenance position for wipers because when the wiper arms are parked they foul the bonnet. Lift the wiper arm and wipe them with a clean damp cloth.
What if your car needs new wiper blades?
This is simple: you can buy wiper blades online from a huge variety of places. If you want to see what you’re buying, you can get replacements for most popular cars in Halfords as well as from garages and most franchised dealerships. All you need to know is the make and model of your car and the year it was produced from. It can appear confusing at first with a huge selection of wiper blades. But when you get down to choosing it’s very straightforward. It’s worth noting that many stockists will fit new wiper blades for free.
How much do windscreen wiper blades cost?
This depends on the sort you go for. You can buy aftermarket designs for a popular car such as the Volkswagen Polo for around £14 for a twin pack. But if you want a product with guaranteed quality, made by a well-known manufacturer such as Bosch, it’ll cost nearly twice that at around £26 for both blades.
Is it possible to DIY with wiper blades?
On the majority of modern cars it’s actually very simple and once you know what you’re doing you can replace wiper blades in seconds – literally.
First consult the manual about the best position to have the wiper arms parked in. Then study the instructions that came with the new blades.
The same wiper blades usually fit multiple models of car and many are supplied with slightly different fittings. Make sure you attach the right one to the wiper. Then it’s usually a case of pushing in a button to slide off the old wiper; the new wiper should simply slip onto the arm and click into place.
On older cars it’s more complicated but once you’ve got the knack – it’s quite counter intuitive – it’s simple. If you’re struggling, here’s a selection of videos designed to help.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.