How to Install Bracketless Windshield Wiper Blades

Windshield wipers working on car driving in the rain
Frank Cezus/Getty Images

For decades wiper blades have been fairly standard — a thin rubber strip was suspended by a springy metal frame that attached to a strong metal arm on a sprung pivot bolted to a geared rotating pin driven by an electric motor through a couple of long arms. This remained mostly unchanged through the system's tenure. Sure, there were some "innovations," like the two-blades-are-better-than-one double blades with wings on them that were all over my high school in the '80s. Others tried to incorporate more wiping edges within this single rubber strip — TriplEdge was a major player in that department. Through all of this, some major problems remained. The fact that the rubber blade was suspended by 4-6 points of contact separated by air created differences in pressure against the windshield and provided lots of space for snow and ice to build up and ultimately render the wiper useless, even with healthy blasts of windshield washer fluid.

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Why Choose New Contoured Frameless Wiper Blades

Contoured wiper blades ready for installation or repalacement.

Matt Wright

This new style of wiper blade provides even pressure across the entire surface of the blade. Since there are no points on the blade that are receiving more pressure, the wiper will tend to wear more evenly, avoiding premature failure due to worn edges. But the best part about the frameless wiper, in my opinion, becomes apparent in winter weather. There's no place for the ice to build in between the metal frame and the rubber wiper blade, so your wipers keep working no matter how icy it was the night before!

Until recent years this type of wiper was relegated to high-end vehicles like Mercedes. Now they are standard equipment on many new cars. The really good news is that they are available from a number of companies like Bosch and Rain-X as upgrades to your old school wiper system. You should be installing wiper blades as part of your regular maintenance routine anyway, so now's the time to upgrade. There are some supplied adapters to install but don't sweat it; I'll help you get it done safely, reliably and without issue. Let's get started!

If you are installing older school wipers, you can use our awesome tutorial as a guide.

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Using an Adapter to Install Frameless Wipers on Your Car

Adapters of windshield wipers sitting on car next to wiper

Matt Wright

Whether your car or truck came with flat frameless wipers when it was new, or you're planning an upgrade to these wipers from the older version, you will have to use one of the adapters that were included with your new wipers to make it work. There are a number of different types of attachment to the wiper arms, but our Rain-x wipers came with lots of options, and one of them fit perfectly. Choose your adapter based on the installation instructions. See the next step for a tip on getting the adapter installed.

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Installing the Wiper Adapter

Hand holding windshield wiper and pressing the release button

Matt Wright

Once you've chosen the right adapter for your wipers, you need to get it installed on the new wiper blade. It's pretty straightforward in most cases, but it got a little tricky with the Volvo XC70 we were trying to install these wipers on.

The instructions were telling us to release the adapter that came on the wipers, slide it off, and slide the correct adapter into place. The problem was, even with the illustrated instructions, it was tough to figure out exactly how to release the old adapter. Finally, we realized that you need to grasp the adapter on both sides at just the right point, press in, and release the adapter. Then it will slide right off, and you can click the new one easily into place. See the photo for our example.

Once you have the right adapter installed, it's a snap to get it back onto the wiper arm. Just slid it into place until it clicks.

Tip: Give your wiper blades a firm tug to be sure they aren't going to fly off at highway speed. If they are installed correctly, they won't budge with a firm pull.

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Removing the Protective Plastic Sleeve

Hand removing plastic cover before using new wipers

Matt Wright

To protect these amazing wipers in shipping and during your installation, they come from the factory with a clear plastic sleeve over the edge of the wiper blade. This keeps the blade from dulling or getting knicked somehow before you have it fully installed. Pull this cover off before use!