GM Prizm/Nova 1985-1993 Repair Guide

Windshield Wipers


Intense heat and ultra-violet rays from the sun, snow, ice and frost, road oils, acid rain, and industrial pollution all combine quickly to deteriorate the rubber wiper refills. One pass on a frosty windshield can reduce a new set of refills to an unusable condition. The refills should be replaced about twice a year or whenever they begin to streak or chatter on wet glass.

Blade life can be prolonged by frequent cleanings of the glass with a rag and a commercial glass cleaner. The use of an ammonia based cleaner will ease the removal of built-up road oils and grease from the glass. Ammonia based cleaners are harmful to painted surfaces. Be careful when applying them and dont fill the washer jug with an ammonia based solvent; when used it will run onto the painted bodywork.


The washer spray direction can be adjusted by inserting a pin into the nozzle and turning it to the desired position.


See Figure 1

Normally, if the wipers are not cleaning the windshield properly, only the refill has to be replaced. The blade and arm usually require replacement only in the event of damage. It is not necessary (except on Tridon refills) to remove the arm or the blade to replace the refill (rubber part), though you may have to position the arm higher on the glass. You can do this by turning the ignition switch on and operating the wiper. When they are positioned where they are accessible, turn the ignition switch off.

There are several types of refills and your vehicle could have any kind, since aftermarket blades and arms may not use exactly the same type refill as the original equipment.

  1. Lift the wiper arm off the glass.
  3. Depress the release lever on the center bridge and remove the blade from the arm.
  5. Lift the tab and pinch the end bridge to release it from the center bridge.
  7. Slide the end bridge from the wiper blade and the wiper blade from the opposite end bridge.
  9. Install a new element and be sure the tab on the end bridge is down to lock the element in place. Check each release point for positive engagement.

Most Trico styles use a release button that is pushed down to allow the refill to slide out of the release jaws. The new refill slides in and locks in place. Some Trico refills are removed by locating where the metal backing strip or the refill is wider. Insert a small screwdriver blade between the frame and the metal backing strip. Press down to release the refill from the retaining tab.

The Anco style is unlocked at one end by squeezing two metal tabs, and the refill is slid out of the frame jaws. When the new refill is installed, the tabs will click into place, locking the refill.

The polycarbonate type is held in place by a locking lever that is pushed downward out of the groove in the arm to free the refill. When the new refill is installed, it will lock in place automatically.

The Tridon refill has a plastic backing strip with a notch about an inch from the end. Hold the blade (frame) on a hard surface so that frame is tightly bowed. Grip the tip of the backing strip and pull up while twisting counterclockwise. The backing strip will snap out of the retaining tab. Do this for the remaining tabs until the refill is free of the arm. The length of these refills is molded into the end and they should be replaced with identical types.

No matter which type of refill you use, be sure that all of the frame claws engage the refill. Before operating the wipers, be sure that no part of the metal frame is contacting the windshield.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: The rubber element can be changed without replacing the entire blade assembly