Expert advice: How to change your car’s windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers have come on a bit since these. They’re more efficient now as well as being simple to change

Windscreen wipers are vital because good visibility is one of the most important elements of driving. If you can’t see a hazard, you can’t avoid it. Like tyres, oil and filters, windscreen wipers wear out over time. The good news is it can be fairly straightforward to change them. Your car’s handbook is a useful ally here. But if you struggle, a wiper is far too important to take risks with so ask a friend who knows what they’re doing, or your local garage to help. 

Windscreen wipers: How you know they need replacing

Rubber hardens with age and so wipers become less effective at their job. You’ll probably know your wipers aren’t working properly because they won’t be clearing the screen as they should. There’ll be lines where they’ve wiped or they’ll judder and creak as they’re sweeping. If the wiper blade has any lumps missing from the wiping surface or if it’s split, that’s an MOT failure. Therefore, if you only check your wipers once a year, do so before the MOT so you can rectify any problems before you fail the test.

Windscreen wipers: Buying replacements

Wipers are one of the many components made by suppliers rather than the car manufacturers so they’re easy to buy online or at any car spares store. There’s usually a choice: budget brands you’ve never heard of or quality wipers made by famous names such as Bosch or Lucas. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with windscreen wipers. Those made by the premium companies are likely to be what your car was fitted with when it left the factory. And they tend to last longer.

Windscreen wipers

New flat blade wipers are simple to change (Picture © Bosch)

Windscreen wipers: What type do you need?

Although they might look the same, windscreen wipers most certainly aren’t. And it’s not unusual for the front pair to be different sizes to each other. Check in your car’s handbook or have a look at what’s on the car at the moment. Alternatively, check online. Websites such as wiperblades.co.uk allow drivers to choose the make and model of their car and the wiper blades they need.

Windscreen wipers: How much do they cost?

Not a lot, fortunately. For a small car like a Mini hatchback, prices range from £9 to £20. A mid-size, popular model like a Ford Focus ranges from £16 to £22. And for a large family car, like a Mercedes E-class estate, they range from £18 to £25.

Windscreen wipers: How to remove them

First of all check your car’s handbook. In some cars the wipers are parked beneath the lip of the bonnet so when you fold out the arm you have to be careful not to chip the paint off the edge of the bonnet. The handbook should tell you how to ‘park’ the wipers in a vertical position so you can fold the arm away from the windscreen unhindered.

Windscreen wipers: Fitting ‘hook and arm’ wipers

Bearing in mind that your car’s two wipers are likely to differ, it’s worthwhile laying the new ones out so you fit them to the correct arm. It’s then sensible to put a towel over the windscreen so if you have any mishaps you don’t damage the screen. With old-style ‘hook and arm’ wipers you first have to work out how to get the old blade off. Lift the arm away from the screen and check the joint where the blade pivots against the arm. There should be a small rubber stopper holding the blade on. Press the stopper and unhook the old blade. Carefully remove the old wiper then reverse the process for the new one.

Windscreen wipers: Fitting ‘flat’ wipers

The good news is, an increasing number of new cars are being fitted with ‘flat’ wiper blades. These have a piece of metal running through the blade itself to keep it rigid on the screen. With these, you simply push in a button on the wiper to slide the old blade off. To fit the new one it’s a case of sliding it onto the arm until it clicks into the locked position. If your car has these new-style blades, changing them is so simple you’ll wonder why you haven’t attempted it before.

Green_Flag_Nick_Reid* Nick Reid is a fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry and head of transformation at Green Flag

Leave a Reply