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How Often to Replace Windshield Wipers

By Kathleen Burgess


Updated on

It goes without saying that drivers should always rely on clear vision to avoid accidents. That is why windshields should be cleaned regularly by mechanical wipers. However, windshield wipers have their limits, too. The constant rhythmic motion and environmental obstructions will take a toll on the wipers in the long run. So, we should learn how often the maintenance is for windshield wipers.

Why Replace Windshield Wipers

Before we get to the technical side of this topic, let’s understand first why maintenance of the windshield wipers is necessary. Two reasons are enough actually. Here they are:

  • Avoid Abrasion on the Windshield’s Glass

    Did you lease your car? Are you planning to sell your car so you can buy a new one? If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then you need to take care of your windshield. Fixing scratched glass is such a hassle, so just focus on prevention.

    The most crucial part of the windshield wipers is their blades. After all, the wipers will never get their job done without the component that actually wipes the glass surface. If the wiper blades wear out, they tend to create streaks on the windshield. Streaks produce multiple white lines that are difficult to remove. Defective rubber slides can also make ugly scratches on the windshield because of their metal components.

  • Prevent Accidents Due to Poor Vision

    Having a 20/20 vision is not enough if your windshield is not clear. In particular, scratches reflect headlight beams and sunlight in a wrong way. They make the reflection more solid in appearance, obstructing your vision. Additionally, if your wipers fail to evenly wipe the windshield, they will leave blurry spots that might affect what you see.

    Statistics show that poor windshield vision is a top factor in an alarming percentage of 46 percent out of all fatal accidents. The wipers’ motor can even malfunction while you are on the road. It is an essential part of the wipers because it makes them move. You might get into trouble if it starts to rain or snow and your wipers remain immobile.

How Often to Replace Windshield Wipers

Since windshield wipers are composed of several components, we cannot give an exact answer regarding the frequency of maintenance. What we are going to do instead is to discuss three major components. Here are the answers on how often we should replace windshield wipers according to their three main parts:

  • Blades

    It is safe to say that the blades are the most important parts of windshield wipers. These components can remove most substances or elements from the windshield such as dirt, ice, snow and rain. However, the main material is surprisingly basic. Windshield wiper blades are only made of thin rubber usually. That’s why it is a no-brainer that they belong in the least durable components of cars.

    When windshield wiper blades deteriorate, they crack, shred and get loose. They are even more vulnerable to cracking if they are exposed during winter. Another sign of deterioration is streaking and uneven wiping. Failing blades also produce sounds. Once activated, they may chatter or squeak.

    The average lifespan of windshield wiper blades is six months to one year. The range is based on factors such as the specific materials of the blades as well as weather conditions. Talking about different types of materials, blades made of ordinary rubber are the weakest. Meanwhile, rubber blades containing hard halogen can last longer. Lastly, the best material for blades is silicone. Unfortunately, silicone blades are expensive.

    Changing windshield wiper blades is so simple. Just purchase rubber refills.

  • Arms

    Windshield wiper blades cannot serve their purpose if they cannot move. What makes them move is their special arms. These arms are usually made of metal, so they are far more durable than rubber blades. They can even outlast your car.

    However, there are certain symptoms that may tell you that your windshield wiper arms need early replacement. Sometimes, the reason why a blade streaks your windshield and produces chattering sounds is a defective arm. Other signs include the blades not touching the windshield or ultimately not moving at all.

  • Motor

    The arms of windshield wipers will never move without a motor. Like the arms, the windshield wipers’ motor can also last longer than a car. However, like any other car component, it can deteriorate due to certain factors. Daily use can expose it to moisture and heat, a bad combination for metal objects.

    Symptoms of a failing motor include compatibility with just one speed, wipers that cannot be stopped, and extremely slow movement.

How to Replace Windshield Wipers

Again, we are going to give ideas about the replacement of windshield wipers by focusing on each main component:

  • Blades

    Even if you are a DIY novice, you can successfully replace windshield wiper blades by yourself. The whole process is so easy. It only involves measuring your blades before buying new ones and using the hooks for removal and installation. Simply unhook the old blades and insert the replacement pieces.

  • Arms

    If the problem is just the hinges of the windshield wiper arms, you may simply oil them so they can function despite the impending total corrosion. Although, it is still best to replace the arms before everything gets extremely rusty.

    To successfully remove and install windshield wiper arms, you have to know how they connect to your vehicle first. Some wipers use nuts to secure the arms. To replace them, just lift the cap, take off the nut, and remove the arm. Meanwhile, other wipers use clips. Simply unlock the clip and install the replacement arm.

    Once you are certain about the right installation type of your windshield wiper arms, prepare a set of ratchets or sockets and a flat screwdriver.

  • Motor

    You can only access the windshield wiper motor if you remove the cowl. The cowl is where the blades and arms rest when not in use. To remove it, uninstall the blades and arms first.  Once you see the motor, unplug and unbolt it first from the gearbox before removing it. Then, place the new one into the vacant slot.


Windshield wiper maintenance all comes down to its components. It is possible that you will never replace the arms and the motor. However, the blades are not really durable. Their lifespan is only from six months to one year.

There is a certain accessory for the windshield that can protect you from intense heat after parking your car. Find out the best windshield sunshades in today’s market!

About Kathleen Burgess

Kathleen started her career in journalism writing about cars during her Journalism degree at CUNY and even though she didn't like it at first, she quickly became an ace, writing news, reviews and comparisons like one of the best car writers out there. Today she writes content focusing on the latest trends in the car industry, looking at sales, policies and green alternatives. Learn more about GCB's Editorial Process.

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