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Published July 21, 2020


The windshield wiper challenge

By John Toth / The Bulletin

How hard could it be to change the windshield wipers on a few cars?

I used to rebuild carburetors back when cars had them. Compared to that, changing a windshield wiper should be a piece of cake.

Down I went to the windshield wiper store, also known as the big box store, where I also needed to pick up milk and something for lunch. It would be cheaper there, and I also needed some cat litter.

I bought three sets of windshield wipers. Before I left, though, I watched a video on YouTube on how to install one of the sets. The presenter reaffirmed my belief that it would only take a few minutes. He also said that he picked up some wipers for $5 each.

The big box store had a great deal on milk, but the wipers were far more than $5.

I grabbed three sets, and off I went to the pet section, where I picked up the cat litter, and then headed home.

Time to slap these babies in place. But wait, there was something wrong, They didn’t fit.

I used to install these with my eyes closed. It’s not that hard. But no matter how I turned the wiper and the little plastic gadgets that come with it, the wiper would not fit. I didn’t want to force it too much and break it, because there was a pretty good chance that this set was going to be returned, and it was.

“Would you like to exchange them?” asked the clerk behind the exchange counter. She was very polite and understanding when I told her that I really didn’t know what to exchange them for, since it appears that I may need some help getting the right ones and installing them.

So, I had made two trips already and did not have any windshield wipers yet. But I did manage to pick up a set of lightbulbs and some nightlights so that the new kitten would not be scared at night. But that doesn't keep the windshield clean.

My quest continued with a visit to an auto parts store, trip No. 3.

The clerk helped me pick out the windshield wipers, but they didn’t have two of the 28-inch-sized blades that one of my vans needed. I thought it was time to replace them because there were threads hanging off the driver’s side windshield wiper. I figured I got enough mileage out of them, especially since I used them in that condition all day.

I grabbed the two new wipers and once again went home to continue with my project.

One didn’t fit.

Back to the store: Trip No. 4.

The clerk looked up the items again and concluded that he misread the model number. He exchanged the wiper and even offered to install the one that had given me all this trouble. Snap. It was done. One car was left. I was still in the hunt for the 28-inch wipers.

Trip No. 5. Another auto parts store had them. I bought two before anything else could go wrong and again headed back to the house, where the van was waiting.

Snap and snap. They both fit. This chapter of my life was closed.

They make cars too complicated these days. It’s like driving a big computer. I have been left behind, just like the carburetor.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)