How Often Should You Change Windscreen Wipers?

How Often Should You Change Windscreen Wipers?

Wiper blades are one of those things you probably don't think about very often. If your wipers work, you're happy. But if they fail, it can seriously affect your car and day-to-day life.  

Correctly working wiper blades are essential for safety and security reasons. The last thing you want is to be driving in heavy rain with no visibility through your windscreen — or a failed MOT! 

In this article, we'll delve into how often you should change your windscreen wipers, how to make them last longer, how much they cost, and how to change windscreen wipers. Let's dive right in. 

When to change your windscreen wipers  

You should change your windscreen wipers every year. Wiper blades may survive longer than this, but by replacing them at least once a year, you’ll ensure they’re always performing as intended.  

A set of new wipers will give you maximum visibility during rainy or snowy weather. So, consider making the change in autumn or at the start of winter. Also, if you live in a cold area you should change your wipers every six months to avoid weather-related damage. 

Pro Tip: Remember to change the front and rear wipers!  

If your windscreen wipers display any streaking, skipping, splitting, or squeaking – it’s almost certainly time to invest in new blades. You should also change your blades if they are damaged, cracked, or torn in any way. Don’t wait until the 12-month mark! 

How often should you check your wiper blades? 

You should check your windscreen wipers at least every six months or more. Regular checks ensure you know the quality of your wipers and help you stay on top of yearly changes.  

This is a critical milestone to note when owning a car, especially in a region with varying weather conditions, such as the UK, for maintenance costs and safety reasons.   

As a guide, inspect your wiper blades every time you check your oil to ensure you don’t get caught out. 

Is driving with bad wipers illegal? 

Yes, driving with faulty wipers is illegal. Low-quality wipers will also result in an MOT failure. But both can easily be avoided by investing in a new set every 12 months. 

Bad wipers could see you face a £50 fixed penalty – but worse yet, if the police view your driving with poor visibility as reckless, they could hand out a £100 on-the-spot fine. This fine could increase to £5000 if the case is taken to court.   

Checking and replacing your wiper blades if needed is much cheaper than paying off fines.  

How do windscreen wipers degrade? 

The rubber on wiper blades wears down over time as debris gets trapped between the blade and the windscreen. Additionally, the rubber can warp and distort over time due to heat exposure.  

Cold weather can degrade all types of rubber quickly, so it’s imperative not to use your blades to clear ice in winter. The rubber is made to be soft enough not to damage the windscreen, which means it will wear down with use. 

How to make your windscreen wipers last longer 

Looking after your windscreen wipers is important, as it keeps them in better condition, improves your driving safety, and saves you money on replacements. Here are the best ways to make your wiper blades last longer:  

  • Clean the windscreen manually - This may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep your windscreen clean and dry 
  • Remove dirt and debris ASAP - Wipers won’t remove dirt, they only scrape it, leaving them with more friction and wear 
  • Avoid using your wipers in dry conditions - This wears the wipers down 
  • Manually clean the blades - Alongside the windscreen, you should carefully wash the blades 
  • Don’t de-ice your car with the blades - Ice can degrade the rubber 
  • Lift your wiper blades when it snows - This prevents the blades from being frozen to your windshield

You’ll remove any dirt or debris that might be set on your windscreen, that would cause wear to the wipers as they scrape over it, windscreen wipers are only designed to move rainwater.  

Windscreen wipers replacement cost 

With windscreen wipers being such a safety critical component, it’s important to get them fixed as soon as possible to avoid having to risk a dangerous and illegal situation.  

Here are the typical costs: 

Wiper blade replacement cost 

Wiper blades range in price from £5 up to £70 per blade, depending on the make and model.  

Many retailers such as Halfords or Wilco offer free fitting or very cheap fitting, often no more than £10. High-end wiper blades are made from more durable materials and can be climate-specific.  

Wiper mechanism and motor cost 

Wiper motor parts costs are usually in the region of £100-£160. The mechanism can be extremely expensive if the entire system needs to be replaced. But in most cases, joints or bearings can be changed separately.   

Fitting costs vary wildly depending on the car, and at the bottom end (on simple or older cars), it can take as little as 1-2 hours. At a rough rate of £50 per hour, equalling between £150 and £260 for the whole job.  

If your car is particularly complex, especially with a cramped engine bay, a mechanic may bill up to 4 hours to remove wiper motors and mechanisms.  

How does a wiper mechanism and motor work? 

A moderately complex system of arms and gears moves the wipers across the screen. It’s usually situated under the scuttle panel or inside the engine bay. A motor drives this, and both parts can and do fail.

How to check wiper blades 

Wiper blades can be checked and changed at home or by a mechanic. If in doubt, contact your local garage dealer for professional assistance.  

It’s good to check your wiper blade before a long journey and regularly to avoid being caught far from home in a downpour.

Step-by-step instructions for checking wiper blades 

  1. Lift the wiper arms and visually inspect the edge of the blades for tears or cracks  
  2. Remove any debris such as leaves or dirt from the blades and below them  
  3. Clean the screen with a suitable glass cleaner and microfibre towel 
  4. Check if there is sufficient wiper fluid in the reservoir 
  5. Operate the windscreen washer (make sure to do this before operating the wipers on a dry windscreen)  
  6. Check for streaks or patches where the wipers have not cleared the liquid  

How to change wiper blades yourself 

Replacing your wiper blades is relatively easy to do.  Here are the simple steps involved for a DIY change:  

1. Check your owner’s manual 

First, check your owner’s manual for the correct wiper size and type for your car. The wiper size is usually described in millimetres.   

The wrong fit may result in windscreen damage or failure to clear water properly.   

2. Clean your windscreen 

Use a cloth or sponge to wipe the windscreen down. Never use abrasive cleaning products on the windscreen, as they can scratch the glass and reduce visibility.  

Also, avoid using any glass cleaners on your windscreen. Most contain alcohol or ammonia-based chemicals that could damage your wiper blades over time.  

3. Protect your windscreen 

Lay a piece of cloth or paper towel across your car's windscreen. This protects the wiper blade arm from scratching or damaging the glass. 

4. Remove your old blades 

Gently push down on the locking mechanism and hold it down while lifting the wiper arm until it’s released from its groove.   

The exact locking mechanism may vary from vehicle to vehicle, and if you’re unsure, simply consult your car’s handbook or look for an instructional video online.  

Once done, you should be able to easily remove your old windscreen wiper blades and wipe away any dirt or debris that has built up around where they attach to the arms.  

5. Add your new wiper blades 

Next, replace the old wipers with new blades. Clip them in using the exact mechanism used to remove the old ones.   

Care should be taken with the plastic coverings and clipping mechanism – be patient and don’t try to force it. Doing so could damage the plastic housing or the blade itself.  

6. Test your new wipers 

Give the new blades a couple of test wipes to ensure they work correctly by operating the screenwash function.   

Check that the wiper shows no signs of streaking, skipping, splitting or squeaking. 

Can you get the wiper blades fitted? 

Yes, you can get wiper blades professionally fitted. This process is straightforward, and most mechanics and automotive retailers offer a fitting service.  

For example, Halfords offer a windscreen wiper fitting service for around £5. Professional service is excellent if you want to avoid the hassle or don’t know how to change wiper blades. 

Where can you buy wiper blades? 

You can buy wiper blades from online shops and automotive retailers.  

Online shops (e.g., Amazon) might seem quick and easy, but we recommend visiting a trusted automotive retailer such as Halfords or Euro Car Parts.   

You’ll be able to speak to an expert and ensure you buy wipers that are right for your car. They may also offer a fitting service for you – meaning you can get your wipers changed as often as you need to, hassle-free.  

Which wiper blades are best? 

The best wiper blades are the ones specified in your car owner’s manual. Before you look at style or technical functions, ensure the wipers are compatible with your vehicle.  

Also, manufacturers such as Bosch and Michelin are well-known for producing high-quality blades. These benefits are often both improved performance and longevity, so consider who you buy from. 

Because new products are introduced all the time, it’s best to check a source like Auto Express for a run-down of the best blades. 

How often should you change your windscreen wipers - The takeaway 

Windscreen wipers might seem minor, but they’re just as crucial as other car maintenance checks. Hopefully, this guide has helped you determine how often and how to change your windscreen wipers without fuss. Now, set a reminder in your calendar for your next change! 

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