Common Questions About Wiper Blade Replacement

October 13th, 2023 by

Wipers are shown being used after proper windshield wiper replacement.

Every year, the technicians here at McCluskey Chevrolet perform innumerable repairs on our customers’ vehicles. With today’s cars and SUVs being more mechanically and technologically complex than ever before, more and more drivers are entrusting the care and maintenance of their vehicles to the skilled and experienced hands of a professional.

Thus, many of our customers are generating questions regarding the maintenance and upkeep of their vehicles—and one of the aspects that people inquire about the most involves windshield wiper replacement. How often do these blades need to be changed? Are all wiper blades the same? What happens if the wiper arm breaks? Today, we’re going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about wiper blades in the hope of giving you a better understanding of how they work and when they should be replaced.

How Often Should I Replace My Wiper Blades?

There are a number of determining factors that might necessitate getting your wiper blades changed, and not everyone abides by the same rules. For instance, some drivers change them every six months or so, while others tend to swap them out between summer and fall. The summer’s heat can wear down the structural integrity of the blades, and rain and snow usually accompany the winter months, so having good blades helps maintain visibility. However, other tell-tale signs may indicate the need for immediate replacement. If your wipers are skipping or squeaking, it’s best that you get them replaced immediately.

Are Left and Right Wiper Blades Interchangeable?

This all depends on the vehicle in question. While it’s true that many vehicles have equal-length blades for both windshield wipers, some are different from one another. When you purchased your vehicle, it more than likely came with an owner’s manual that listed the different specifications for replacement parts. It’s generally a good idea to follow these guidelines to ensure your wipers work correctly.

We recommend getting OEM wiper blades, as these are built specifically for your vehicle. After-market parts are normally cheaper (and may come with really nifty concepts like a hydrophobic sleeve on the blade) but, as is the case with many vehicle repairs, you often get what you pay for. Consult your local mechanic or dealership to see what they recommend.

Winshield wipers are shown on a wet windshield.

What Kind of Wiper Blades Should I Get?

While the owner’s manual for your vehicle will tell you what size of the blades you should get, the type of wiper blades you decide to equip your vehicle with is entirely up to your discretion… most of the time. There are a number of different kinds of wiper blades on the market, and we’d like to spend some time explaining what each one is and how it functions.

First of all, blades usually come made in one of two compounds: silicone or rubber. Silicone blades have the advantage of being able to function well in both cold and warm weather and are much less likely to squeak than rubber blades. Rubber blades, on the other hand, tend to be more cost-effective and, when used in certain temperatures, can last for a much longer length of time. However, due to the fact that rubber can freeze and crack in temperatures that dip below freezing, they’re not always the best option for locales known for harsh winters.

Conventional Wiper Blades

Conventional blades are the most commonly used. They have a simple design that makes them easy to mass produce and are relatively inexpensive. Made up of a flat squeegee placed on a frame (usually made from plastic), they’re very good in mild temperatures and effective in clearing rain from your vehicle’s windshield.

Beam Wiper Blades

On the opposite end of the spectrum—as far as cost is concerned—beam blades are excellent in colder climates and are usually the best choice for areas with heavy snowfall. Their thick consistency means that they tend to last longer than conventional blades, and their shape presses them more firmly to the windshield, making them exceptionally effective at removing ice and packed snow.

Hybrid Wiper Blades

When it comes to a cost-effective wiper blade that’s adept at thriving in different situations, a hybrid blade is a functional choice. Utilizing the structure of a conventional wiper blade with a firmer grip on the windshield in a beam blade, it’s the perfect compromise between the two aforementioned blade types. Hybrid blades can operate in colder temperatures and come at a lower price than some of the others on the market.

Winter Wiper Blades

As the name suggests, these are blades that are specifically designed for use during the winter months and when the temperature drops below freezing. There are a variety of different winter blades that are currently available, many of which have a special coating to keep the rubber components from freezing; others have built-in mechanisms to warm them up and assist with the de-icing process.

Windshield wipers are shown on a frozen windshield.

Can You Fix a Bent Windshield Wiper Arm?

While we’ve spent a considerable amount of time describing the blades, it’s time to address a question that many people have regarding their windshield wipers: whether or not they can fix a bent arm. Now, there are two ways to look at this…

If you’re someone who has experience with replacing parts on your vehicle and has undertaken DIY jobs before, it’s possible to render a temporary fix—but you may risk worsening the damage or even breaking the arm. Thus, this is certainly an issue that’s best left to the skilled hands of a professional. All vehicles are different, and a technician who’s based out of a dealership will have the necessary know-how to properly repair or replace a bent arm.

Is It More Cost-Effective to Replace or Repair a Wiper Arm?

When it comes to having a wiper blade replaced, it’s best to think about it in terms of a long-term investment. The cost of a windshield wiper arm will certainly vary according to quality, brand, and the type of vehicle you have. One of the advantages of bringing your vehicle into a dealership is that you’ll have professional installation done with parts that are specifically designed for your vehicle.

It all comes down to paying a little bit now or paying a lot later on. While you might pay a little more for parts and labor at a dealership, you’ll also have the peace of mind of knowing the job is being done right and with parts that are specifically made for your vehicle.

Get Windshield Wipers and All Other Routine Maintenance at McCluskey Chevrolet

When it comes to maintaining visibility behind the wheel, having functional wipers and blades makes all the difference—especially if you live somewhere where it’s common to drive in a rainstorm or snowfall.

If you have questions or feel like it’s time to get a new pair of wiper blades, the experts at McCluskey Chevrolet are here to help. We’ll answer any questions you might have and help you choose the perfect blades for your vehicle. Our parts department is fully stocked—and not only do we have a wide array of OEM parts to maintain your vehicle, but our service department boasts a team of highly trained technicians who understand the necessity for proper care when it comes to your windshield wipers.