Windshield wiper blades should be changed on a regular basis. Plan on switching out standard wiper blades every six months, while premium beam blades can be used for up to a year prior to replacement. The lifespan of wiper blades depends on the conditions in which you drive and where you park. You can purchase replacement wiper blades at any auto parts store. Here are the most important factors for selecting new wiper blades for any vehicle.
OEM Blade Types
Standard blades are hinged with a metal or metal and plastic composite structure that has a central bridge and articulated links. These blades rely on four to eight pressure points with spring flexors to press rubber squeegees onto the windshield. Beam blades feature tensioned metal flexors that support a rubber element and precisely correspond to the shape of the windshield. Hybrid blades resemble conventional blades but have an integrated spoiler along the full length of the blade.
The windshield wipers that come with a vehicle may determine the compatibility of blades. Cars with standard blades can often be upgraded to beam or hybrid blades. Newer models that come with beam wiper blades are hingeless and not compatible with standard blades. Premium beam or hybrid blades may enhance the performance of vehicles with hinged blades. These blades also last almost twice as long as standard blades.
Wiper Blade Size
The second most important consideration when buying wiper blades is what size windshield wipers do I need. Blades that are too long may hit each other or travel over the edge of the windshield resulting in a less aerodynamic fit that is likely to result in damage. Short blades may not fully clear the entire windshield and can limit your field of vision.
Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle for the specific sizes or measure each blade. Some wiper blade manufacturers also sell model-specific blades, but sizes can still vary across models or submodels. The driver’s side and passenger’s side wiper blades may also be different lengths.
Blade Attachment Mechanisms
Straight and hooked mechanisms are the most common designs. A straight mechanism may require you to squeeze a pair of tabs or slide a latch to pull off the blade. It may be necessary to slide blades down the arm of a hook attachment to remove. Other common styles include J hook and bayonet. Some attachments require the use of a screwdriver for removal and replacement. Certain designs can be replaced in the park position while others must be lifted to maintenance position during replacement.
Replace standard wiper blades at least twice a year and beam blades every year. You may need to replace blades sooner if you notice signs of streaking on the windshield while driving in precipitation or indications of incomplete contact between the blades and windshield. It may be possible to clean blades to prolong effectiveness. If you are not sure what type of windshield wiper blades to buy, check the owner’s manual for your vehicle or ask a customer service specialist at the nearest auto parts store.