When it starts raining, you want to flip on your windshield wipers and have them work properly. In order for this to happen, you’ll need to give your wiper system some attention once in a while. If you haven’t lately, now’s a good time to do so. Chances are that your wiper blades are carrying a coating of grime from this past winter, or worse.

Caring for your wiper blades is easy, and necessary. If you notice your wipers constantly streaking your windshield or skipping across the surface rather than wiping smoothly, your wipers need attention now. If the blades aren’t visibly torn, you might want to try and clean the blades first. A clean rag and some water will help, but if you need something with a little more power, try cleaning the wiper blades with glass cleaner or isopropyl alcohol. But, don’t stop at the blades. Once the blades themselves are clean, take the time to clean your whole windshield, too. If you’re wiper blades are oily and dirty, chaces are your windshield is too.

Once everything is clean, give your windshield wipers a test to see if there’s any improvement. You can use your car’s windshield washer, or you can spray the glass with a water hose (you may want to avoid doing so if the car has been sitting in the sun on a hot day, as this can cause the glass to crack). If everything seems to work, you’re done. If not, you’ll probably want to go ahead and replace the wiper blades.

Replacement procedures vary by car, but in most cases, you’ll lift the wiper arm up off the glass, pivot the blade, and remove it from the arm. To install the new ones, reverse the process. There is a wide array of aftermarket options for wiper blades, but the most important thing to keep in mind is blade length. Not all blades are standard, and there is a variety of sizes. In some cases, you can purchase blade refills that allow you to save some money by reusing the rest of the blade and just replacing the rubber strip element.

Whichever solution ends up working for you, you’ll want to check, clean, and potentially replace your wiper blades sooner rather than later. You don’t want to be on the road in a rain storm and turn on your wipers only to find them streaking your windshield, making visibility even worse.

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