When should you replace your wiper blades?

If your wiper blades are split or broken, then it’s time for a replacement. But how do you know when you should replace your windscreen wipers?

In this article, we provide information on the main reasons why your windscreen wiper blades may fail, explore how to spot problems before they get worse and offer a step-by-step guide for replacing your wiper blades.

What causes windscreen wiper blades to wear out?

Windscreen wipers press gently against the windscreen, clearing away rain, hail and snow to give you a clear view of the road ahead. Here are some of the main reasons why wiper blades wear out:

  • Old age: Over time, the rubber on your wiper blades will naturally start to wear down, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Overuse: The more you use your wiper blades, the faster they’ll wear out.
  • Extreme weather: Using your wiper blades during extreme weather can reduce their lifespan.
  • Extreme temperatures: Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause the rubber to split – something that you’ll be able to see by inspecting your windscreen wipers carefully.
  • Accidental damage: Wiper blades can receive accidental damage while you’re cleaning your car, for example.
  • Incorrect fitting: Incorrectly fitted windscreen wipers can wear out more quickly. Uneven wear on your wipers is a tell-tale sign that they haven’t been fitted correctly.
  • Non-brand names: Cheaper, non-brand names aren’t likely to last as long as trusted brands such as Halfords and Bosch.

When to replace wiper blades

If your wiper blades need replacing, you’ll start to notice that the blades are sticking and squeaking. They may not clear away rain as effectively or leave streaks on your windscreen.

It’s essential to change your wiper blades as soon as you notice them wearing out. If left, they can break off – leaving you without a working wiper, which is both dangerous and illegal. A worn-out wiper blade also means your car will fail its MOT, so it’s even more important to ensure they’re in working order.

How to check your windscreen wiper blades

You can check the condition of your wiper blades by pulling the arm back from the windscreen.

Give the wiper blade a clean with a damp cloth or even better, a cloth dipped in undiluted washer fluid. Then inspect the wiper blade for any chips, damage or deterioration.

Scan up and down the wiper blade and look for splits or any missing pieces of rubber. Run your finger along the edge and see if you can feel any missing pieces, damage or splits.

If you can see or feel any damage, it’s time for a replacement. We recommend always replacing your wiper blades in pairs; if one is worn out, the other one won’t be far behind as they both work at the same rate.

Top tip: Even if everything seems okay, you should make a note to check your windscreen wiper blades every month for splits, tears and corrosion. Also, always make sure you check both the front and rear wiper blades on your vehicle.

What wiper blades do I need?

If you need some help selecting the correct wiper blades, our Wiper Blades Buyer’s Guide contains all you need to know, or just enter your car’s registration into our handy online tool.

You can find all of the information you need on how to fit replacement windscreen wiper blades in our advice guide. We’ve also provided an overview below.

Shop wiper blades

How to fit wiper blades

If you’re unsure about how to change wiper blades, follow our step-by-step instructions:

Step one: Make sure you’ve got the right replacement blades for your car

Before you begin taking your old wiper blades off, make sure to buy the right replacement blades for your car.

You can find these by entering your car’s registration into our handy online tool. You’ll then be shown appropriate front and rear windscreen wiper blades for your vehicle. You can also check your car owner’s manual, which should have details of the wipers you need.

If you’re out and about or prefer the personal touch, drop into your nearest Halfords where one of our trained staff will help identify the correct blades for your vehicle.

Step two: Clean your screen

Before getting started, you should give your windscreen a clean to remove any dirt, tree sap or bugs that have got stuck to the glass as this can affect wiping quality.

Step three: Grab a towel or cloth

When you remove the windscreen wipers, you leave the wiper blade arm exposed. If it unexpectedly snaps back, it has the power to damage your windscreen, so it’s important to provide some protection.

We recommend placing something soft against the windscreen glass, directly under the blade. A rolled-up towel is ideal, but any thick fabric will do.

Step four: Lift your wiper arms

Once your towel is in place, lift each wiper off the glass one at a time. When the arm is raised, you’ll have access to the clip or fastening mechanism you need to remove the blades.

You should be able to lift the wiper arm when they’re at rest. On some vehicles, you may need to move your wipers into a specific position to gain access to them. Check your vehicle handbook or search online for guidance if this is the case.

Step five: Remove your old blades

Once the blades arms are lifted, you can remove the old blades. There are a variety of mechanisms to fix your blade to the arm. Sometimes you’ll need to slide the blade down the arm to unhook it. On others, you’ll need to remove a clip that’s holding the blade in place. If you’re unsure of the mechanism used to secure the blade to your wiper arm, you should be able to find information online.

When you’ve removed your wiper blades, don’t throw them in the bin – wiper blades can be recycled at your local waste collection facility.

Step six: Clip your new wiper blades in

With your old blades removed, it’s simply a case of attaching the new ones using the same method.

Be careful with the plastic coverings and be gentle with your wiper blades. Using excessive force can cause the clips or housing to crack or break. Follow the instructions and take your time.

On some cars, the passenger side and driver side wiper blades may be different lengths so make sure you are attaching the correct length blade to the correct side.

You may need to use different clips to attach your wiper blade arms. You’ll find these supplied in the box. To use these, you’ll need to attach the new clip to the wiper blade then attach the blade to the wiper arm on your car.

Step seven: Place your wipers back on the screen

Once your new wiper blades are securely in place, remove the towel protecting the windscreen and gently place the arms back on to the windscreen or rear window.

Step eight: Give them a test swipe

Take a look at the wiper blades and ensure they’re sitting on the windscreen correctly. If you’re happy, then give them a test swipe. If they’re fitted properly and functioning correctly, they should leave a streak-free finish on your windscreen. If they’re squeaking, juddering or just not working, then they may need some minor adjustments or re-fitting.

Replacing worn-out wiper blades is a straightforward process that you should be able to do on your driveway. However, if you want to save yourself the hassle, let Halfords do the work. Select our Halfords windscreen wiper fitting service, available at all Halfords stores, and one of our trained technicians will fit your wiper blades while you wait for a small fee.

Shop wiper blades

How to take care of your wiper blades

It’s essential to regularly maintain your wiper blades to increase their longevity and to boost their performance. Using these following steps will help keep your wiper blades in tip-top condition:

Clean twice a week

When driving, your wiper blades gather a lot of grit and debris, even when not being operated. This increases wear and can also cause scratches on your windscreen. Regularly cleaning your wiper blades is therefore important, and we suggest you do so twice a week.

Use windscreen cleaning liquid and water to wipe down your blades, removing any dirt. Then wipe the blades with an isopropyl alcohol, which will remove any residue left by the cleaning product, preventing smearing on your windscreen. Be aware, the longer you leave it before cleaning your wiper blades, the higher the build-up of dirt and grit, and the harder it will be to clean them.

Clean your windscreen

Protecting your wiper blades in cold weather is important and fully defrosting your windscreen before activating your wipers is essential.

If you fail to do so, the wiper blades may still be frozen to the windscreen and moving them may cause irreversible damage. Therefore, use a de-icer and avoid using your wipers as a method of clearing the ice. Doing so could also transfer grit or ice onto the blades which causes wear.

Reposition blades in winter

One of the best measures you can take to protect your wiper blades is to reposition them away from the windscreen. This is effective when you are not using your car for long periods of time or in periods of cold weather. Less dirt will then gather, and you won’t need to worry about your blades getting frozen to the windscreen- although you will still need to defrost your windscreen fully!

Repositioning your blades is easy, simply lift the blades away from the windscreen so that there is no contact. If you will not be using the car for a while, you can then remove the wiper blades and store them in a dry place at room temperature.

Replace regularly

Wiper blades are exposed to a lot and will inevitably wear over time. For rubber blades, it is expected that this will result in needing to replace them annually.

Silicone wiper blades are more resistant against heat, cold and UV rays and generally last twice as long as standard rubber wiper blades.

Of course, this is general guidance, and you should conduct regular checks for signs of wear and damage. The main things to look out for are any visible cracks or tears. Also check that the blade is securely fastened to the wind screen wiper arm.

If there are clear signs of damage or wear, you will need to replace your wiper blades. Before doing so, use our vehicle registration number tool which will indicate the correct type of blade for your car.

You can use our guide to finding the correct wiper blade size to help you with this.

Introducing the Halfords Motoring Club

Don’t miss out! Join the Halfords Motoring Club today to access a range of amazing benefits and discounts that are designed to keep you moving, keep you safe and keep you saving.

It’s free to join and you’ll receive money off your MOT, a free car health check and a welcome voucher that can be spent on any Halfords product or service.

Or choose our Premium membership for a small monthly fee (or a one-off payment) to unlock exclusive member pricing on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages and Halfords Mobile Experts, as well as a variety of other benefits that will help you to keep moving for less.

With so much to enjoy, this is too good an opportunity to miss!

Join the Halfords Motoring Club today at www.halfords.com/motoring-club.

Join the Halfords Motoring Club
Back to Expert Advice