Winter is coming, and that means that all sorts of nasty weather will soon be dumped on your automobile, especially if you live in a region that gets heavy snow each year. But even if the temperatures don't drop to below freezing where you live, the fact is that winter tends to be much wetter than other months of the year - meaning that you need to keep your wiper blades in top condition in order to deal with it.
There's no hard and fast rule for when you should replace your wiper blades, but most experts say that they're good for anywhere from six months to a year. It's a good idea to simply replace your blades every winter season, so you can be sure you don't get stuck in a blizzard with a problematic windshield to boot.
Wipers deteriorate over time mainly because they are made of rubber, and this is susceptible to both hot and cold temperatures. For example, parking your car outside in the cold can crack the rubber on the wipers over time, which will require a replacement. Even if your wipers are not completely useless now, they likely will be after several months of winter use, so it never hurts to replace them to be on the safe side.
Checking to see if your wipers are functioning properly is quite a simple task. You should notice when you use them if they streak or chatter when they wipe liquid off of the windshield. If so, you need a replacement. Many drivers just ignore these signs and assume that they don't need a new wiper blade until it actually breaks - but if they start to streak, it can be extremely dangerous if you get caught in inclement weather.
Fortunately, replacing wiper blades is quite a simple task for even the most amateur of mechanics. You don't need any automotive know-how to replace your blade - it's as simple as buying a replacement and slotting it in where the old one goes.
Make sure that you know the width of the blade you are replacing, as you do not want to buy one that is too long or too short. Blades also have a "claw width" - be sure to check this as well before buying a replacement. The staff at many auto parts stores will likely be able to point you toward a compatible wiper if you show them your old blade.
At this time of year, you might want to consider investing in winter blades, especially if you are expecting to deal with snow and ice. These blades have an enclosed holder that ensures snow and ice won't interfere with the blade's mobility, which can be a big help on those cold winter mornings.
Replacing the blade is a breeze. The only thing that you need to be careful with is pulling the wiper arm away from the windshield. More than one driver has pulled incorrectly and snapped the wiper back into the windshield, cracking it. That's a much more expensive repair than a simple blade replacement, so take caution and be sure the arms are locked away from the windshield when you pull them up.
From there, locate the tabs at the base of the wiper blade and squeeze them to trigger the release mechanism. The blade should slide right out - be sure to set it aside so you don't mix it up with your new blade. Slide the replacement blade in the same way until it locks into place. Then simply repeat this process for the other blade as well.
Before you go, be sure to test out your new wipers - hopefully the streaking and stuttering has stopped. If not, you might need to look into replacing the entire wiper arm itself.