How Often Should You Replace Wiper Blades?

by Rick Popely,

If your windshield wiper blades leave streaks and smears, or if they scrape and chatter even when there is plenty of moisture on the glass, you could need new wiper blades. If in bad weather you find yourself ducking and dodging your head like a boxer to see out your windshield, you could need new wiper blades.

Let your eyes and common sense dictate when to change wiper blades. Wiper blades should be able to easily clear water, snow and slush. This is especially true if you live in an area where salt is used on the roads because dried salt can practically make a windshield opaque. If you pull a wiper arm away from the windshield, you might find tears or cracks in the wiper blade — other signs they need replacement.

Before you replace the wiper blades, though, try wiping them clean with a damp cloth and make sure the wiper arm isn't bent or broken and that the blade sits snugly on the glass. Sometimes just lifting the arm off the glass and letting it snap back into place will make the blades seat more snugly on the glass and work better.

Wiper blades are inexpensive (typically less than $20 for a pair on most vehicles), and some auto parts stores will install them at no charge, so when in doubt, do it now — before you need new ones. If you own an SUV, minivan or hatchback, check the rear-window wiper blade as well.

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Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David