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Windshield wiper replacement is vital in maintaining your European car. Unfortunately, because it is one of the most basic vehicle maintenance activities, replacing your windshield wiper blades often gets overlooked. While it may seem insignificant at first thought, the ramifications of not replacing your windshield wiper blades in a timely fashion can be quite costly, and even dangerous. Not only can the squeaking sound of your degraded wiper blades prove to be a nuisance, but the obstructed view caused by dirt particles and precipitation can impede your sight of the road while driving. This can compromise your driving performance, potentially resulting in an accident.
Thankfully, windshield wiper replacement is a very simple task, so there is no reason to neglect this basic car maintenance procedure. As easy as replacing your windshield wiper blades can be, some European car models do have unique features that distinguish their windshield wipers from other vehicles. It may be a good idea to see how the blades on your European car should be changed, or even to let our mechanics handle it for you the next time you're in the shop.
If you would like to replace your windshield wiper blades yourself, here are a few things you should know about changing your blades, and how different European models have different designs in their windshield wiper blades that you should be aware of - or just come on in to our shop, and let us take care of it for you!
How it Works
Windshield wiper systems consist of several components. First, an electric motor causes the windshield wiper arm to rotate back and forth. If this component is damaged, you will need to see a mechanic for repair, as this is not something to be done yourself. The windshield wiper arm is moved by the motor and attaches at a pivot point to the blade at the blade's center. When the arm rotates, the blade, which actually makes contact with the windshield, moves across the surface of the windshield to clean it. This blade is the part you have to replace, as the thin rubber strip will break down after repeatedly swiping across your windshield, thereby causing it to not make full contact with the windshield and clean the windshield inadequately. In addition to poor cleaning, a windshield wiper blade that has completely worn down may even result in scratches in your windshield, so it is certainly very important that this maintenance step be done - preferably every six months on average.
How to Change
The windshield wiper blade is typically connected to the wiper arm via a hook that the wiper blade slides onto, but other mechanisms such as clips or pins do exist, and are frequently used on higher-end European car manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes, Porsche. Since this is the key part in replacing your blades, we'll take a look at how to change wiper blades that use each of these (It's important to note that there are other components to a windshield cleaning system, like washer fluid, sprayers, and a heated wire in the glass of your windshield to melt off snow or ice, but these are for another time. If you encounter a problem with these components, visit our shop and we'll gladly help you).
- Hooks - Most windshield wiper blades are attached to their arms simply by hooks, but these are enclosed by a cover so as not to scratch your windshield. If your wiper blade has this configuration, simply remove the cover, take the blade off of the arm hook, and replace.
- Clips - Some wiper blades connect to their corresponding arms with a clip that also serves to cover the junction between the blade and arm. The Mercedes A-class, C-class and E-class models use this kind of adapter as well as many Volvos, and in order to change it, all you must do is slide the blade back against the clip and gently pull upwards for it to unlock.
- Pins - Other blade-arm assemblies are joined by a pin which is also covered by an adapter to prevent scratching. The Porsche Cayenne and 911 models use this assembly, and much like the hook and clip configurations, the blade can be replaced by removing the adapting cover and simply lifting the blade off of the pin. (confirm with mark)
Now that you are familiar with some of the different types of wiper blade connecting mechanisms, here are a few things to take into account when changing your blades.
- Be sure to lift the wiper arm into a vertical position before attempting to replace your blades. This can be done by either manually lifting the wiper arm, or by turning on your car's wiper blades and stopping them mid-swipe. Be sure not to allow your bare wiper arm to fall back and hit your windshield, though, as this could cause the windshield to chip or crack. Placing a cloth cover over your windshield to avoid this might be a good idea.
- Keep in mind that wiper blades are grouped according to their length, and the driver's side blade is typically longer than the passenger's side blade. So, consult your owner's manual to determine the length of wiper blades that you should purchase, and be sure to put the longer blade on the appropriate side.
- Buying universal windshield wiper blades may be cheaper, but because the windshield curvature of some European cars may differ from other models, using universal blades may result in inadequate contact with your windshield, causing it to clean your windshield ineffectively. It is best to stick with wiper blades specific to your European car.
- Universal wiper blades often come with a bulky square adapter to cover the blade's connecting junction, while brand-specific blades often feature adapter covers that are more streamlined, so while there is no difference functionally, brand-specific blades are often more aesthetically pleasing on European cars.
Now you have all you need to know about windshield wiper replacement. This basic vehicle maintenance procedure is not only simple, but can also provide a much smoother and safer ride, especially in bad weather. You're welcome to try it yourself, or you could have this completed at European Motors the next time you need your European car serviced. Our ase certified mechanics will be happy to replace your wiper blades for you!