Time for that wiper blade replacement

BY DEBORAH GORDON

Monday, August 12, 2019

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WINDSHIELD wipers are small, but are crucial for a clear view of the road. We may overlook their importance until we really need them, and the slapping or scratching sound of old windshield wipers is a reminder that you may be putting your and other road users' safety at risk.

Inspect the wipers monthly for wear and damage, especially before and after the hurricane season, long trips and periods of extreme climate conditions. Manufacturers recommend changing wipers every six months to a year, or as needed. Some telltale signs to look for are squeaking, chattering, skipping, smearing or streaking.

Smearing or streaking could be a result of dirt build-up, so clean the rubber section of the blades with warm water, soap and a clean cloth. If that does not solve the issue, it is safe to replace them.

Streaking can also be caused when the rubber squeegee dries, hardens and cracks, or when dirt, dust and oil collect on either the glass or the blade. If you live in a humid climate, chances are you rarely use your wipers. The lack of use can cause the blade to curve and result in it skipping across the windscreen instead of wiping it clean. This can also happen if your car is left in the parked position for an extended length of time.

While low usage can cause skipping, excessive use causes wearing, when the blades change from being squared to round. Harsh sunlight can split the rubber squeegee on the blade, causing it to break down and reduce wiping quality.

Other signs to look for are:

• Broken frame — detachment of frame arms at joints or connection points.

• Metal corrosion — especially at joints and claws.

• Tug to ensure wiper blade has been securely installed on the wiper arm.

• Check that squeegee is secure in the wiper frame.

You can replace your windscreen wipers yourself or have it done by an auto supply store representative or auto mechanic.

Most modern vehicles have simple quick-release systems for their wiper blades, which allow you to remove and replace them in just moments.

Here are the three easy steps:

1. Take the old one off. There should be a hook or clip that helps you to slide the old one off.

2. Match the old blade to the new to ensure that you have the right size.

3. Attach the new blade in the same position the old one was. You should hear a click which ensures that it's safely in place.

Sometimes the entire windshield wiper arm is what's faulty and you'll need to replace that. This can be trickier than just replacing the wiper blade.

For this you'll need a socket/ratchet set and a flat-blade screwdriver.

Your wiper arm will either fit onto a splined shaft, sometimes held in place with a nut, or held in place with a locking clip. To replace the first type, lift the protective cap, remove the nut and pull off the arm. To replace the second type, unlock the clip and install the new arm.


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