How to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

Difficulty: Beginner

CARS.COM — Replacing your own windshield wipers can be intimidating to the uninitiated. The swiping arms of plastic connectors, rubber and metal may seem like a riddle with steps only Indiana Jones can unlock, but it's actually an easy task on many newer cars. Some auto parts stores offer complimentary installation when you buy wipers for your vehicle there.

Even so, it's an easy enough job to consider doing it yourself if you found a sweet deal online or bought replacement wipers elsewhere. Ready to change your own windshield wipers? Keep reading to discover how to get the job done right.

Related: How Often Should You Replace Wiper Blades?

Newer cars favor an easy-to-replace hook-style wiper arm where the windshield wiper blade simply slides over a metal hook and clips into place. Replacing the wiper blades on a hook-style arm is the process we'll detail since they're so common. We'd be lying if we said all wipers were the same or this easy to remove or replace — a variety of wiper arms and mounts have been used over the years. The stubborn ones with pins and unique latches can churn up rage so deep that the new wiper blades may turn into boomerangs before they're ever installed.

While this guide should point you in the right direction when you need to change your car's windshield wipers, every vehicle is different. Even blades using the same mounting style doesn't guarantee all windshield wiper blades will come off the same way, so check your owner's manual for guidance. If you're having trouble, consult with a pro to avoid doing serious damage when trying to remove or install windshield wiper blades.

1. Measure the wiper blade length with a tape measure or ruler; you also can check the owner's manual or an in-store catalog when buying replacement wipers. Uneven-sized wipers are normal. Cars.com's previous long-term tester, the 2013 Subaru BRZ, used a 22-inch driver-side and 20-inch passenger-side blade. Realizing you have the wrong size replacement only after sitting in the cold rain surrounded by empty wiper boxes and rogue clips is easily avoidable. 

2. Set the new blades in an upright position on the windshield. With ignition in accessory mode, switch the wipers on until they're mid-swipe and then turn the car off so the wiper arms are standing straight up, perpendicular to the hood line. It's often easier to remove the old blades with the wiper arms up unless the hood or some other obstruction keeps you from pulling the arm away from the windshield. Most cars allow this trick, though some wipers return to base position when the ignition is off. Also, replacing only one wiper at a time will ensure you have another blade to reference if you run into problems.

3. Lift the arm away from the windshield and pivot the blade. With the wiper arm pulled away from the glass, pivot the wiper so the whole blade is perpendicular to the arm; some may have a clip or tab to pull for full rotation.

4. At this point, have a towel or rag ready so when the wiper blade is removed, you can rest the bare wiper arm against a soft material on the windshield.

5. Release the connector and pull the wiper blade downward. This step may vary, but with most blades, you can pull the connector's lower tabs outward to release it from the hook or push a button to release the blade. Once disengaged, slide down to remove the whole blade from the hook. You might need to give it a tap-tap-a-roo or good tug to work past debris or corrosion.

6. Gently rest the bare hook against a rag on the windshield. The wiper arm is spring-loaded, so don't let the bare metal hook drop quickly; it can whack the glass and crack the windshield. The rag also protects the glass from being etched if for some reason the wipers unexpectedly swipe.

7. Pull the new wiper blade connector into the bare hook. With the rubber pointing toward the windshield, slide the new wiper blade connector into the hook and give the blade a good pull upward while listening or feeling for a click. Often you'll have to guide the hook through the blade first before pulling up and engaging the connector with the hook.

8. Once secured, lower the wiper blade and repeat the process on the other side.

9. Lastly, test the wipers after installation so you're not testing them in the next downpour with a passenger-side blade flopping around scratching the windshield. Congratulations! You just managed to change your own windshield wipers!

... But if you haven't yet and you'd like a video demonstration of how to get through this, we have you covered: Check out the video below for more on how to replace your wipers.

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