You love your new Tesla: It’s fashionable, reliable, and saves you a ton of money by not having to stop at the gas pump. With its tremendous resale value, you truly believe that you’ve made one of the best investments of your life. But the wiper blades leave a slimy residue on the windshield of your shiny electric car, and it’s driving you crazy.
How do you replace Tesla wiper blades in eight steps? Starting with selecting the appropriate replacement blades, Tesla wiper blades can be replaced at home in a series of eight easy-to-follow steps without having to take the car into a technician.
Tesla wiper blades are some of the easiest components of the car for non-experts to work on. However, if you are more of a visual learner and need additional tutelage before playing home mechanic on your new Tesla, there are many videos available that can walk you through the same steps outlined in this article.
The Steps to Replacing Tesla Wiper Blades
Tesla wiper blades can be easily replaced by taking the following steps.
First, you can purchase replacement wipe blades from Tesla directly, or on Amazon.
Amazon: Recommended Model 3 Wiper Blades
Amazon: Recommended Model S Wiper Blades
Step One: Select Replacement Blade Style
The first step in getting started with the wiper blade replacement on your Tesla is understanding the difference between the two main styles of wiper blade frames so you can choose the type that will work best for your vehicle.
- Conventional steel frame wiper blades – this type of wiper blade is typical on your older, “gas guzzler” vehicles. While these wiper blades are heavy-duty, they tend to build up ice and snow in the winter, causing the blade to lose the flex needed to hug the windshield. These blades are not any cheaper, so they are not recommended for use with your Tesla
- Frameless beam style wiper blades – this is the more modern style of wiper blade and comes with your Tesla from the manufacturer. This type of wiper blade is not as susceptible to ice and snow buildup, allowing it to better maintain its shape to curve against the windshield and clear residue. This is the recommended style for a replacement.
After deciding on the style of frame, you will also need to decide on the material of the blade itself. There are a couple of different options to consider.
- Rubber blades – these blades tend to screech as they move across a windshield that is not heavily moisturized. They are also quickly damaged by weather elements like snow, ice, and sun. The one advantage of rubber blades is that they are typically cheaper than other options
- Silicone blades – these blades are largely noiseless, thanks to a lubricant in the silicone which allows the blade to glide smoothly, even over a dry windshield. Silicone blades also hold up better in harsh weather elements. They will be slightly more expensive than rubber blades (probably around $25 each, or $50 for the pair)
While it is up to you as to what type of replacement wiper blade works best for your budget and personal preferences, it is recommended that Tesla owners use frameless, silicone wiper blades when looking to make a replacement.
Step Two: Select the Correct Size Replacement Blades
After deciding on the style of replacement blade you want to use, the next step is to figure out what size replacement blade you need to purchase.
The packaging on replacement blades will say something like 17, 18, 19, etc. This denotes the length of the blade. You can easily find the length of the replacement blade needed by measuring your current set, or you can consult the user’s manual. For most Teslas, the replacement wiper blade will likely need to be size 19 on the passenger side, 26 on the driver’s side.
Not all brands of replacement wiper blades will fit perfectly with your Tesla’s wiper arms, so after purchasing the style and size you want, you will also need to make sure that you have the correct adapter (or the blades come with the correct adapter) so that the blades fit snugly into the wiper arms.
The PTB Wiper Arm
Tesla uses a Push Tab Button (PTB) wiper arm. This is distinguishable by locating a small, square button near where the wiper arm and wiper blade connect. By pushing this button, the wiper blade releases for replacement.
Attached to this PTB wiper arm is the component that directs the washer fluid, which has a couple of small openings that allow the wiper fluid to squirt onto the windshield. This causes some Tesla owners problems in finding the correct fit because this part gets in the way of the wiper arm adapter. There are two types of PTB wiper arms:
- The regular PTB wiper arm, which is wider
- The narrow PTB wiper arm
When selecting the correct size of replacement wiper blade, you need to make sure you know which type of wiper arm adapter your Tesla requires. Tesla Model 3 and later likely uses the narrow PTB wiper arm, so you need to make sure you have some type of adapter that will allow your replacement blades to fit with this narrow PTB arm.
Step Three: Put Your Tesla Into Service Mode
Now that you have your replacement blades, it’s time to start the installation process. The first step is putting your Tesla into service mode. This can be achieved through the following steps:
- On your Tesla center console screen, you need to tap the car icon in the bottom left-hand corner. This will pull up the menu.
- Near the bottom of the menu list, you will see “Service” with a small wrench icon to the left of it. This is the option you need to select.
- This pulls up a sub-menu to the right of the main list. At the top of this sub-menu, there is an option that says, “Wiper Service Mode.” Make sure that the button to the left of this option is blue. This will cause the wiper blades to spring up, indicating they are ready for service.
Now that your Tesla is in wiper service mode, the motor to the wiper arms is unlocked. This makes it possible to manually move the wiper arms to an angle that is most convenient for you to make the replacement.
Step Four: Remove the Old Wiper Blades
Now that your Tesla is in wiper service mode, it’s time to remove the old wiper blades.
You are familiar with the PTB wiper arm. When choosing the correct size of replacement blades, you have previously located the small, square button that this type of wiper arm employs.
Press the button to release the old blades.
The blades will spring out of the wiper arms slightly, and you should be able to easily pull the old blades out of the wiper arms with minimal force.
When removing the old blades, it is a good idea to keep some kind of towel or cloth between the windshield and wiper arm to prevent any scratching of the windshield.
Step Five: Prepare Your New Blades and PTB Wiper Arm Adapter
The wiper arms are now free of the old blades and ready for your new set.
After taking your new blades out of their package, be sure to compare the adapter on the old blades with those that come with your new set. If an adapter that will fit with a narrow PTB arm is not included in the package, make sure that you have the correct size available for continuing with the installation.
Some brands of blades will come with adjustable PTB adapters. If you do not see the narrow PTB adapter included with your new blades, take a look at the instructions. There will likely be directions for how to easily remove the extra width from the traditional PTB adapters that come included, turning them into the narrow PTB adapter you need for your Tesla.
Generally, the traditional PTB adapters that come with most new blades have a couple of fold-in “wings.” Simply fold these wings out and clip them off, turning a traditional PTB adapter into a narrow PTB adapter.
At the end of the new blades, you will notice a couple of protective clips. Make sure you remove these before beginning installation, as they will prevent your new blades from contacting the windshield of your Tesla if left intact.
Step Six: Attach the PTB Wiper Arm Adapter to the Blade Frame
Now that the blades and wiper arm adapter are prepared, the two will need to be joined so that the new blades will fit into the vacant wiper arms of your Tesla.
On the side of the wiper arm adapter, there will be an arrow. Make sure this arrow is pointing down toward the center of the opening on the mount of the blade frames and that the push button on the adapter is pointed inward toward eventual insertion into the wiper arm.
Squeeze the adapter into the blade frame until you hear a “snap.”
This “snap” should ensure that the adapter and frame are securely fastened but double-check and make sure that the connection is good and snug before proceeding.
Step Seven: Insert the New Blades Into the Wiper Arms
Once the PTB wiper arm adapters are securely fastened to your new blades, it is time to mount your new wipers into the wiper arms on your Tesla.
Using the reverse process of detaching your old blades, you will need to insert the wiper arm adapter, push-button first, into the opening of the wiper arm. It should be a nice, tight fit, so you may need to wiggle the blade a little bit until it is flush with the opening.
Slide the adapter into the wiper arm until it cannot slide any further. The square push button on the adapter should pop up through the aperture on the wiper arm, indicating that the wiper blade has been properly mounted and is securely in place.
Repeat this process for both the driver’s side and passenger’s side.
Step Eight: Take Your Tesla Out of Wiper Service Mode and Test
The wipers are now properly mounted–it’s time to test your new wiper blades.
On the console screen inside your Tesla, tap the button next to “Wiper Service Mode.” This will turn the button from blue to a frozen gray, locking the wiper arms and making your new blades ready for use.
On the lower left side of your center console screen, tap the windshield wiper icon. This will power on your wipers, and the icons below this button will allow you to select the wiper speed you want to use for testing. Give a spray of fluid and observe how your new wiper blades perform.
Your blades should rest snugly against your windshield, with no squeaking or dragging noises while the wipers are in motion. Your new blades should leave no smudges or smears, completely pushing all fluids and debris to the side, offering a clear view through the front of both the driver and passenger’s windshield.
Why Do You Need to Replace Your Tesla Wiper Blades?
If your Tesla comes manufactured with high-quality frameless wiper blades, why would you consider replacing them? There are several reasons why you may consider making this simple after-market adjustment.
- Wiper blades are some of the most easily degradable components of a car – Mother Nature can be a very destructive force. Whether it is inclement weather or simply the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays, the elements can take their toll on a vehicle. Given that wiper blades are among the finest components of a Tesla that come in direct contact fighting the forces of nature, they can wear out fast (usually around six months)
- The manufacturer may not have used the blades you prefer – while Teslas come equipped with the frameless beam style wiper blades, the blades themselves are often rubber. As mentioned in the article, silicone blades fight the elements better and are preferable for use with your Tesla, creating a solid reason to switch out the rubber blades for their superior silicone counterparts
- The blades may be defective – how annoying is it to have a set of wiper blades that clear everything except for a streak they leave right in your line of sight? Some blades, for whatever reason, do not fit against the windshield the way they are expected, pushing debris into undesirable locations and creating the need for replacements
Maintaining Your Tesla’s Wiper Blades
While replacing your Tesla’s wiper blades yourself is a relatively simple and cost-effective process, spending $50 every six months to keep your windshield clean can add up over time.
In order to ensure that you get the maximum life out of your replacement wiper blades, there are a couple of steps you can follow.
- Utilized covered parking, if possible – it’s a no-brainer that parking in a garage is preferable for the maintenance of a car. However, not everyone has this luxury. If parking outside, remember that sun causes more problems than just skin cancer–it will accelerate the breakdown of your wiper blades, as well. Try to ensure that your Tesla gets as much shade as possible when parked for long periods
- Clean your blades – while it’s probably “extra” to clean your wiper blades every day, it is a good idea that you periodically clear them of any possible corroding agents, especially if your Tesla will be sitting for a while. A good way to clean is to dampen a rag with denatured alcohol and firmly rub down each blade
Other Considerations With the Wiper System
One common issue with the wiping system of the Tesla is the wiper fluid the manufacturer uses. This fluid is thick and blue, and when thrust off the windshield during wiping, it can come into contact with the Tesla’s body, creating a stain on the vehicle, which is very noticeable in light-colored models.
Rather than go to the carwash every time you utilize your windshield wipers; you may want to consider replacing the wiper fluid. This can be easily accomplished using the following steps:
- Purchase a clear-colored wiper fluid – while fluid coming into contact with the Tesla’s paint job is inevitable when the wiper launches the liquid from the windshield, clear fluid will not be noticeable. People living in colder climates will want to consider a wiper fluid with anti-freezing properties to help melt ice in the winter
- Locate the wiper fluid bay on the hood of your Tesla – pop-up the cap with the windshield wiper symbol (the same symbol used to activate your wipers on the console screen). Use a funnel to fill the wiper fluid reservoir with the clear fluid
- Cycle out the wiper fluid until it becomes clear – the clear fluid will mix with the remnants of the manufacturer’s fluid. It will continue to become clearer as you spray your windshield and add more of the clear fluid, essentially flushing out the old.