The car owner’s guide to windscreen wipers

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Old windscreen wipers

by Chris Williams |

Lord Byron once wrote of windscreen wipers:

When we two parted

In silence and tears,

Half broken-hearted

To sever for years,

Pale grew thy cheek and cold,

Colder thy kiss;

Truly that hour foretold

Sorrow to this …

Without question, he is right. It’s a jolly nuisance when wiper blades pack it in. He took it a bit harder than most of us would but nevertheless, his point stands. So what we’ve done is provided you with an easy guide on windscreen wipers that addresses wiper replacement and maintenance.

How long do windscreen wipers last?

They usually last about a year. Sometimes less if you use them with a dirty, gritty windscreen.

How to prolong wiper blades’ life: grubby windscreens and using wipers to clear ice are the two primary culprits in ruining wiper blades. Keep your car windscreen clean; don’t use wipers to remove ice; park your car out of direct sunlight if you can. Wiper blades are rubber, therefore using them on gritty or rough surfaces persistently will leave them ragged in no time.

When should I replace windscreen wipers?

There's no expiry date on them like on a ready-meal. You'll know your wipers need replacing when they stop clearing your windscreen properly. If your wipers are streaking the windscreen, or scraping and juddering across the windscreen when in use, it’s time to get some new ones.

Remember, if your wipers don't clear the screen effectively enough, you might fail your MOT - it's one of the most common reasons for failing, according to

The best windscreen wiper replacement blades

In the same way tyres, batteries, or even fuel types are vehicle specific, so too are wipers – there is no universal wiper blade. By way of example, below are wiper blades for three of Britain’s top-selling cars.

The easiest way to find the correct wiper blades for your Renault Megane or Volvo XC90, for instance, is to go to either Amazon’s part finder, or the Halfords' equivalent. Throw in your car reg or details and you will be presented with right wiper blades for you.

There are different blades available these days. Other than your standard rubber windscreen wipers, you can get silicone wipers which last longer than standard rubber ones, and help to get water beading on your windscreen, rather than streaming. The catch is the price.

Halfords Advanced Silicone Wiper Blade

Halfords Advanced Silicone Wiper Blade

View offer

Halfords' silicone blades come in different sizes. These 500mm/20in ones fit the current Ford Focus, for example.

The alternative is replacement rubber strips, if your wiper bracket is fine.

Bosch Aerotwin Replacement Strips

Bosch Aerotwin Replacement Strips

View offer

A pack of two 700mm quality rubber strips for Bosch Aerotwin blades - an awful lot of cars use these particular blades.

Changing your wiper blades:

1. Once you have the correct replacements, pull the wiper arms up, away from the windscreen.

2. The wiper bracket will have a little tab where it meets the wiper arm. Press it and slide the old wiper blade from the arm.

3. Replace the new wiper blade by doing the reverse. The new blade will click when it locks into place.

4. Gently lower the wiper arm back down onto the windscreen.

Cleaning windscreen wipers:

If for some reason you think WD40 can apply here, forget it. Put that spray can away and save it for some squeaky hinges. Having cleaned your windscreen first, you will need:

A rag, or something similar.

A small volume of warm, soapy water. You can use washer fluid too, or even a vinegar-water mixture.

Step 1: Lift up the wiper arms so that they stay up on their own.

Step 2: Dampen your rag with whichever liquid you’re using and gently wipe the blade back and forth until the wiper is clean and the rag is coming away with no grime. Clean the rest of the wiper mechanism too.

Step 3: Use a clean, damp rag or cloth to wipe any soap, washer fluid, or vinegar residue from the wipers. Then lower the wiper arms back down onto the windscreen.


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