Replacing your windshield wiper blades

     The windshield wiper blades on your car have a limited life span due to the breakdown of the rubber compound they are made of. Over time, the elements and the friction on the window wear the blade down. Here in South Georgia, with fluctuating weather, we never know what the next minute will bring. It is good to check windshield wipers and replace them before they create a problem.

     Rather than waiting for the next time, you can’t see to drive, inspect both blades by pulling them off the windshield. Look for blade brittleness or hardness. If the blade is soft and pliable, it should be fine for now. They should be checked every 2 to 4 months depending on how often they are used. Many newer crossovers and SUV’s have rear wiper blades that should be checked as well.

     Blades should be replaced, at a minimum, once a year, but it is recommended to replace them twice a year. Once in the spring—due to the cold temperatures of the winter­—and in the fall—due to potential dry rot from the summer.

     If your blades are in need of replacement, there are two main attachment methods car manufacturers use. One uses a hook that the blade slides on. To remove this type of wiper blade, pull the wiper off the windshield and turn the blade over so the blade is facing upward. Push away from the closed portion of the hook. The blade should disconnect from the wiper arm. Then, maneuver it off the arm. To replace the blade, turn the pivot point of the blade upward and maneuver it onto the wiper arm. With the wiper on the arm, push upward aligning the pivot point and the hook. The blade should snap into place.

     The second main method uses a pin and a retaining tab. Like with the hook attachment method, begin by lifting the blade off the windshield. The retaining tab must be pushed to the side for blade removal. It is located between the two metal rails on the wiper blade. Pull or push­—depending on car model— it out and away from the wiper arm. The blade can then be easily lifted off the pin. To install a new blade, lift the retaining tab out from the wipers metal rail. Then, slide the wiper onto the arm. Next, push the retaining tab in-between the wipers metal rail. This should lock the blade to the arm.

     After installing new blades, always make sure each blade is secured to the wiper arm. Simply pull on the blade with light force in the direction it would be removed. If it doesn’t give or come off, it should be fine. Another method of testing is to turn on the windshield wiper blades and allow them to make two or three complete rotations.


Car Talk: Restoring your headlights

     Over time, headlights will develop a haze that allows less light through the outside lens. This can become hazardous when driving at night or in poor visibility conditions. As an alternative to buying new expensive headlights, there is a simple way to restore a vehicle’s existing headlights. The process involves using two stages of sanding to remove the built-up, yellow film.

     To restore your headlight you will need safety glasses, gloves, 80 grit sandpaper sheet, 120 grit sandpaper sheet, glass cleaner, car wax/polish, four microfiber cloths, a small bucket and water.

     Begin the restoration process by spraying one of the headlights with glass cleaner. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the headlight thoroughly. Repeat this process until the headlight is clean to the touch. Be sure there is no dirt or debris on the headlight. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry the headlight.

     Fill a small bucket with plain tap water. Wet the headlight with plain tap water. Next, tear a whole sheet of 80 grit sandpaper in half. Take this half sheet and fold it in half. Make sure that the fold exposes the rough side of the sandpaper to the outside. Submerge the sandpaper in water.

     At this time, put on a pair of gloves to keep your hands clean in later steps. Take the sandpaper from the water and begin sanding the headlight. Apply light pressure to the headlight with the piece of sandpaper. Most headlights have small dimples that come off the headlight, so be sure not to sand down these dimples.

     Use a horizontal or vertical scrubbing pattern to slowly sand away the first layer of yellow film. If you start by sanding in an up-down pattern, do not vary with left and right sanding or vice versa. This is to ensure a clean wear pattern throughout the entire process. Varying the sanding pattern will result in possible headlight damage.

     Continue to sand in the chosen pattern until the entire headlight is foggy white in color. This may appear as if the damage is worse, however, this is just the start of the solution. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any water before beginning the next step. This also allows for any missed sanded areas to be seen and fixed.

     Next, use 120 grit sandpaper to sand the headlight. This will get rid of the foggy texture left from the first sanding process. Rewet the headlight and submerge the sandpaper. Sand the headlight in the same pattern as before. Sand the headlight until there are few or no scratch marks from the sandpaper.

     With the final sanding step complete, the headlight must once again be cleaned. Wipe down the headlight with a dry microfiber cloth.

     Apply a small portion of Turtle Wax polish on a damp microfiber sponge. Use the sponge to rub in the wax in small circular motions. This is to fill in any small scratches made by the sandpaper. Do this until the entire headlight has a light layer of wax on it.

     Let the wax dry for about five minutes, then wipe down the headlight with a clean microfiber cloth. The headlight should appear to be much clearer than before. Sometimes, the sanding process must be repeated for best results.