windshield-wipersOne of the ways to ensure safe winter driving is proper visibility. Winter brings with it snow, slush and frost which often cakes the windshield, reducing visibility.

Windshield wipers are essential in maintaining visibility during snow storms.

Improve your safety this winter by ensuring your windshield wipers are functioning properly.

How Windshield Wipers Work

Windshield wipers are generally each attached to a single arm for most automobiles. The arms are attached to an electric motor that regulates the pivotal movement of the blade arms.

A rubber wiper blade is inserted into the metal frame and it is responsible for wiping the window clean.

Other forms exists, like the Mercedes-Benz, Monoblade, which is a single blade attached in the centre. The single blade extends upward and down in a rectangular shape, covering more area than the traditional wiper blade motion.

Vehicles are now manufactured with optical rain sensor wipers, which detect the amount of rain on the windshield and respond accordingly. This automatic wiper adjusts its speed and frequency based on the amount of rain detected.

Many manufacturers also produce a wiper specifically for winter conditions. These wipers will have a rubber boot that covers the arm. The boot acts as a lip to keep snow and ice off the arm so the squeegee maintains in even contact with the windshield, reducing streaking and blind spots.

How to know if your windshield wipers need replacing

If your wiper blades are exhibiting any of the four S’s; streaking, skipping, splitting or squeaking, it is time for new windshield wipers.

On average wiper blades should be replaced every six month to a year, depending on where and tear, or when you notice a deterioration in visibility.

Make a note in your calendar or iPhone when six months has passed so you remember to check them.

It is often helpful to change the wiper blades before winter so you have a fresh set to get you through the harsh winter driving conditions.

Look for the following signs when you inspect your wiper blades:

  • Detached arms: are there screws missing or loose on the piece attaching the frame to the arm?
  • Broken or bent frame
  • Disintegrated, or ripped rubber on wiper blade
  • Metal corrosion around the joints
  • Flexibility of arm; does it move easily and lie flat to the window?
  • Is the rubber wiper secure in the frame, or is it loose?

It is a good idea to check your windshield wipers as a part of your routine maintenance checks.

How to replace windshield wipers

You can definitely ask your service technician to replace your windshield wipers for you at your next scheduled maintenance appointment, however if it is simply your blades that need to be replaced you can do it yourself as well.

Step One: Remove Old Blades

Pull the windshield wiper arm away from the windshield so it is propped up. Hold the arm with one hand and use the other hand to depress the small lever under the wiper, where it meets the arm. With the lever depressed slide the blade off the arm.

Step Two: Put Wiper Arm Back Down

Carefully place the windshield wiper arm back onto the windshield (with no rubber blade inside you want to ensure you put it back carefully so as not to hit your windshield and damage the glass).

Step Three: Insert the Refills

Carefully slide the refill wiper blade into the same end you pulled off the old one. Make sure the retaining clamp clicks into place, properly holding the new blade in position.

If in doubt watch a video to see how to do it:

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Brand of Wipers

Before buying new blades it is helpful to measure your current ones so you purchase the proper length.

You can buy windshield wiper blades from Canadian Tire, Costco or Wal-Mart.

Trico Products are the world’s leading manufacturer in windshield wiping systems. Bosch has the largest factory, producing 350,000 wiper blades a day!

Rain-X also has a good reputation, as do Michelin. Ask the service personnel if you have questions or want a second opinion before purchasing.

Whether you decide to purchase a less expensive or more expensive brand, maintenance and use can affect the life of the product.

Factors such as, do you park outside or in a garage, do you wipe your wiper blades down frequently and clear debris from underneath them when it rains or snows, affect the life of your wiper blades.


We also wrote an article on 8 Steps to Winterizing your Vehicle. Check it out for more helpful tips on how to get the most out of your car this winter.