Windshield Wipers: How to Choose the Best One?

Windshield wipers are some of the easiest components of your car to take for granted, until, that is, they no longer work. It’s easy to assume they are always there to take care of the pouring rain, annoying smudges and even bugs that get stuck on your windshield from time to time. The last thing you want is to be caught in a downpour or snowstorm and then discover at that point that you need a new set of wipers. An unclean windshield poses a great threat not only to your safety, but that of other people on the road, so it’s not something we recommend ever trying.

Another unfortunate way of realizing our windshield wipers don’t work is during routine inspections. Avoiding such a scenario is obviously something virtually every single person on the planet wants to avoid. If you check your wiper blades regularly enough, it’s pretty easy to determine whether or not they need replacement and then you can pass that crucial car inspection.

There are lots of brands of windshield wipers that can all adequately solve your little problem. Taking a broader view of things, though, should reveal that this is a double-edged sword, because the more the number of options you have, the harder it is to pick.  A basic rubber blade may not suit your needs if you’re driving in pouring snow. Some types of wipers can range from as little as twenty dollars to as much as a hundred, so you definitely want to get your money’s worth of things. Higher price doesn’t necessarily reflect higher quality.

Even so, we managed to compile a list of some of the best windscreen wipers based on popularity, price, relative quality and the general take on their durability.

Why are windshield wipers so important?

Windshield wiper blades are, for the most part, a safety feature to make sure your vehicle’s windshield is always clear. They should always be well maintained in case of precipitation especially during winter. The basic design of a wiper is relatively simple since it’s not consists of many parts, to begin with. However, this simplicity in design is extremely crucial in preventing accidents.

On that note, windshield wipers come in a range of different materials, the choice of which depends on what your environment looks like for the larger parts of your days.

Rubber Blades.

The windshield wipers most people are used to are those made from rubber. Rubber is pretty cheap and is easy to acquire and produce. It’s also naturally flexible, though some more chemical compounds have to be added in order to achieve the kind of flexibility they usually exhibit. In order to make them durable, a steel housing is attached to them so they can be rigid on the outside, giving them the extra ability to keep your windshield clear. The main problem with rubber is that it’s not very durable, and making it so is pretty expensive, so most companies would rather not risk that kind of thing. For that reason, rubber cracks easily after a season of hot weather and can’t stand exposed to the elements for very long. However, you need to change the rubber blades every six months.

Silicone Blades

These are the newest kids on the block and boast a much higher durability than rubber when it comes to holding up to hot weather. They feature a similar design and flexibility so are almost indiscernible from normal rubber. They are far less prone to cracking and will, on average, last longer than similarly designed rubber blades unless used in extreme conditions like off-road racing or such. Silicone also has an intrinsic property that makes it leave an oily substance on your windshield, which is pretty useful in rainy weather but a sight for sore eyes in the dust since oil catches dust much more easily. However, silicone blades are significantly more pricey than rubber and are mostly used in high-performance 4 vehicles for protection from mud and dirt. They are the kinds of blades used on most sports cars.

Coated Blades.

Because of the disadvantages of using rubber by itself, most high-performance blades are made with enhanced rubber properties in order to increase their lifespan and durability. Graphite and Teflon are the most popular candidates for this kind of application. Coated blades are called so because they have a protective material on the rubber piece that comes in contact with the windshield for longer-lasting protection. It won’t wear out as quickly as ordinary rubber and provides a cleaner, and not to mention streak-free, execution.

Framed vs bracketless blades

These are the main types of wiper blades currently available in the market.

Framed blades are the traditional kinds of blades that you’re probably used to. They are designed with a steel body and are designed to arc in order to provide pressure along the length of the blade. This also helps the blade sit more tightly on the windshield, as opposed to flailing uselessly. The main drawback to this design is that there is not enough constant pressure along the blade’s arc, only at specific points. This is what usually leads to streaks across the windscreen when the wipers are put on.

Bracketless blades, on the other hand, are a newer kind of design that is made in such a way that they distribute pressure a little bit better than the traditional design. The force is applied at the center of the blade, rather than from the bottom. This gives it an advantage because snow and ice cannot build up on the blade, so it’s much better at handling precipitation. Additionally, it has no moving parts which mean less room for breakage.

The last kind of blade you can get but aren’t all that common is hybrid blades. These, predictably, combine features of both bracketless and framed designs – they create a pressure at the midpoint as well as along the length of the blade. This design creates a relatively even amount of pressure along the blade, meaning cleaner and more consistent strokes along the length of your windshield.

All-Weather versus Winter Blades

Winter and summer are both pretty hard on windshield wiper blades – the snow and ice are especially hard to get rid of, and in summer, depending on where you live, rubber wipers may not be able to withstand the heat. Luckily enough, there are wiper blades that have been specifically designed to last winter months. These are more flexible and prevent ice and snow from sticking onto the blades. Some models even cover the frame with a protective coating to block the snow from sticking onto the blades, while other block ice or snow from attaching onto any moving parts. Bracketless blades take the crown in this regard since they don’t have any moving parts on the wiper’s body. Additionally, winter blades are made from a different kind of rubber that’s softer than the usual kind of rubber, such that it doesn’t get stiff in winter.

All-weather blades are those that are specifically designed to withstand the hot of summer and the cold of winter. These don’t usually perform as well as the winter-specific blades do, but they are a cost-effective way of having a contingency.

Replacing windshield wiper blades

Every vehicle model is made differently. They, therefore, have different sizes of windshield wipers recommended by the manufacturer. If you aren’t sure about what size yours are, blade sizes are usually found inside the owner’s manual or you can inquire at the store where you purchase the blade. Alternatively, a quick Google search could prove quite useful. Using an inappropriately-sized blade may result in poor performance because the blade may be too long, such that the two blades interfere with each other or too short to offer sufficient coverage of your windshield.

When getting your car through a routine inspection, you may notice that one side has worn off more than the other. If so, it’s best to simply replace both blades since there are high chances they are exposed to the same amount of weather. Using the same model, and preferably blades of the same age are the best way to yield sufficiently consistent results. If you have a rear windshield wiper, you should also replace that while you’re at it.

Installing windshield wipers

Most windshield wipers come with adapters that can be used to install the wipers on your vehicle. Some of the most common of these include a J hook, side hooks, large and small pins, and a top lock.

Thanks to a wee bit of coordination in the manufacturing process between different companies, the number of types of blades is pretty small. Thanks to this, there are only so many ways in which blades can be installed, regardless of the model of your car. There is also a growing number of systems you can use to adapt your current windshield wiper blade to aftermarket blades. Some of the most common of these include the following:

  • SWIFT Adapter
  • EZSNAP Connectors
  • Multi-Clip or Quick Clip Adapters
  • Universal Quick Lock
  • Multi-Adapter
  • KwikConnect System

How to Maintain Wiper Blades

Like basically any other commodity you will ever get out on the market, windshield wipers need a little bit of love and proper care if they are going to last longer and have maximum performance. Here are a few tips on how to keep those blades up and running for the longest time possible.

  • Always remember to wash the blades when you wash your car. All it takes is lifting the blades up and wiping them down to remove any signs of dirt or dust that will accumulate over time on your wipers and at the base of your windscreen. Whenever your wipers wipe away dead insects or the like from your window, there’s usually a layer that remains on the wiper’s blade. Leaving it so is one of the main ways wipers deteriorate thanks to little care. Cleaning the blade will give your blade a much better performance in the long run.
  • During winter, avoid as much as you can cleaning your windshield using your wipers, especially if you don’t have any special blades installed. This is one of the surest ways to tear your wipers. If it’s pouring outside, then you don’t have any choice, but try and clear up any ice that forms on the windshield beforehand. Using an ice scraper should help, and afterward, you can run the wipers on your windshield just fine.

When Should Wiper Blades Be Replaced?

There are three general rules to follow when deciding whether the blades need replacing. The first telltale sign that the blades need to be replaced is if they constantly squeak whenever they are used. If there are streaks on your windshield, it means you already need to change them. Lastly, you can manually have a look at the windshield wipers by yourself to inspect them for any signs of cracking or breakage. Even if you’ve been sufficiently careful, you need to replace your blades after about six months.

There amount of time your blades last will depend on some number of factors, where most of them are environmental. These include:

Climate

Areas with either extremely hot or extremely cold weather will experience wearing out much faster than moderate areas. Rubber isn’t very resistant, so it really can’t withstand either end of the heat range.

Road conditions

If all you do all day is drive on well-maintained tarmac roads, then you won’t have much use for your windshields. The exact opposite is true for people who spend most of their time on dirt roads. If your windshield is visible to dust for hours on end in a day, you will need to replace your wipers more often.

The frequency of use

The last factor that greatly influences the longevity of your windscreen wipers is how often you use them. Obviously, if you use them more (which is more evident depending on the seasons) you will need to replace them much more.

Best Windshield Wipers

The winner: Bosch Wiper Blades

Bosch refers to the Bosch ICON 26A Wiper Blades as the longest lasting wiper blades ever produced. While there is little data to back up this claim, many people believe it. Nonetheless because of the kind of spot-on performance that these blades offer. In fact, the main reason they are our top pick is that they rank at the very top when it comes to the highest-performing wiper blades on the market.

They feature high-end FX rubber that will last for as much as 40% longer than the average blade on the market, even in the toughest conditions. If anything, they were deliberately built to resist deterioration due to weather effects – they won’t dry during the heat of summer or crack during the cold of winter.

The beam design is quite unique too, having been patented by Bosch themselves. It was created to withstand similarly harsh weather, for one, thanks to the symmetrical geometry of the design and the contours on the blades itself for even distribution of pressure on the windshield across the blade. Thanks to this, you’ll always have a streak-free performance every single time. Additionally, the tension across the arc is also in such a way that it will provide a perfect fit across nearly every vehicle model. It’s a universal fit for every car on the road.

Additional Info About Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blade

Additionally, since it’s very difficult to predict how different manufacturers implement the wiper design, it comes in 12 different sizes. The passenger-side and driver side wipers are usually of different sizes, so they don’t bump into each other while on the road. These range from 13 to 28 inches, from which you can select the appropriate size for either your front or rear windows, and accordingly for both driver and passenger windows.

The blades are very easy to install since they come with comprehensive instructions at the back of the box if you’re ever hesitant. Thanks to the bracketless, hingeless design, these wipers are pretty decent for high-speed driving. No more chatter or noise when wiping the windshield.

First runner-up: Bosch Icon 26A

The Rain-X-5079281-1-Latitude-Wiper-Blade is one of our favorite selects, thanks to its high standard fabric and amazing model. One of the celebrated features of this wiper is its smoothness and its sturdy grip on the windshield area. Much to our delight, the wiper executes an excellent finish and leaves no streaks behind. This beauty also keeps of the accumulation of ice and snow by getting rid of metal exposure.

Made from graphite layered rubber, the Rain-X Latitude wiper blade has the durability and firmness that completes the package for an efficient, long lasting blade. Such qualities ensure that there is a smooth and easy performance without a hitch. In addition to its unmatched lifespan, the rubber also has the flexibility which enables a firm grasp on the windscreen. Such will  make certain that the surface is always be streak free, regardless of the environmental conditions. Needless to say, it will definitely keep your window and sight unobstructed in the presence of rain, sleet or snow.

Rain-X-5079281-1-Latitude-Wiper-Blade: Available Size

If you’re anxious about picking the right size of the windshield wiper, then fear no more. The Rain-X-5079281-1-Latitude-Wiper-Blade comes in a variety of 10 size choices,  allowing you to choose the perfect fit for your screen. The sizes vary from the 16-inch blade to the 28-inch blade. They are both purchasable for the motorist and passenger sides which often differ in their sizes. When it comes to practicality, installation is easy as the instructions given are easy to follow and show the step by step process.

Additional Info About Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blade

Yet another trump card for the Rain X is that it is complete with a J hook which will basically fasten itself on the majority of the vehicles. Other than the standard J hook, there are also more adapters like the large J hook, the bayonet, the side pin adapter and the PTB and L&L wiper blade arms. This huge variety makes our first runner-up a global blade that will almost fit into any design and brand of vehicle.

One of the most fascinating qualities of these all-weather wipers is that they perform just as well in winter and summer. Unlike standard windscreen wipers, they are able to withstand the scorching heat of the sun and have the firmness to endure the daily diverse change in temperature.

Moreover, the wiper blade has an especially designed shape, perfectly molded to fit the angled and curved windscreen thereby allowing a firmer grasp and a proper fit. This essentially produces constant pressure to the windscreen and most importantly, prevents streaking. Regardless of the speed, this wiper will finish the job in just a short period of time.

Contrariwise to the traditional, inexpensive wiper blades, the modern ones have the endurance and unsurpassable performance to keep you free from obstructions while driving. To top it off, they have well-molded shapes and high-quality construction.

Second runner-up: ANCO Windshield Wiper Blade

This pick comes as a more economical choice over the first two picks while still providing a top-quality solution for all weather conditions. These blades feature DuraKlear, which, in case you’ve never heard of it, provides a great solution for cleaning and clearing operations in all sorts of weather. The blade’s fit is quite friendly, since it’s also universal but comes with an adapter, just to be safe. This way, they will be easy to install on any you vehicle, no matter the brand.

The ANCO windshield wiper blades come in sixteen different sizes, with two per pack. One is for the driver’s side (this is usually longer) while the other on the passenger side. The company offers blades ranging in size from 10 inches to 28 inches, too.

Design-wise, the ANCO isn’t too unique, but it’s vented in order to provide great aerodynamic performance at high speeds. The bridge is also flexible and taught so that it fits and latches onto the windshield perfectly. The blade also comes with a KwikConnect kit for even easier installation. If you do it right, there should be an audible click once it’s in correctly. When you’re done and it’s up and running, it will clear your windshield quite nicely.No streaks, even with muddy water. However, it’s still advisable to change these blades at least once every six months, in case they wear out due to overuse or otherwise.

Best Windshield Wipers: The competition

Valeo Frameless Wiper Blades

The Valeo’s greatest winning point is ease of installation. If you’re looking for something that’s nothing less than intuitive to install and get the hang of, this might just be what you’re looking for. These wiper blades are also a low-cost alternative for those working on a budget.

They come in fourteen options to pick from. So depending on the size of your vehicle’s initial blades, you have a ton of options. These sizes range from 15 to 29 inches. So you’ll have to look for one that fits appropriately on the driver’s side and another that fits on the passenger side.

Lastly, and perhaps most impressively, Valeo Frameless Wiper blades were designed in such a way that they don’t need an adapter to fit onto different car sizes. Just fast it on and you’re good to go. At the same time, don’t worry about weather conditions tearing your wipers off. Because these wiper blades can handle even the harshest weather condition.

Aero Premium Wiper Blades

The saving grace of Aero Premium Wiper Blades is their specially designed rubber, which is both chatter-free and high performing. They can also withstand the full force of nature’s wrath. Thus, they will last you through both Alaskan winters and Arizona summers. In short, they are all-weather windshield wiper blades. They don’t allow snow or ice to build up. Moreover, they are durable enough to use throughout the year.

Just the Valeo, they feature what we consider thoughtful features because they aren’t something that need to be installed on wiper blades, but they were engineered to. They have an aerodynamic body for the fast drivers and are frameless. So they move noiselessly (and streaklessly across your windshield). They are a fairly popular option as compared to the rest of the picks here. Why? Because of the balance between pricing and performance.

However, if you don’t want to spend too much on wiper blades then this one is for you.

Trico Force Wiper Blades

The Trico Force Wiper blades are appropriately named because unlike other picks that simply wipe away the dirt and end the story there, these make use of the energy generated by the wind to ensure maximum windshield contact. They move about the windshield to not just dirt and water, but also moisture. Just like the last two picks, this one is also a cheaper alternative.

Michelin Wiper Blades

The Michelin 8026 Stealth Hybrid Windshield Wiper Blade with Smart Flex Design managed to capture our attention, owing to its freshly featured model. Its design calls attention to its aerodynamic cover that aids in moving through ice, debris and snow. Dissimilar to our first candidates, this wiper blade is suitable for a smaller variety of vehicles. However, it comes in handy in all types of atmospheric conditions. All in all, this wiper blade can maintain the cleanliness of your windscreen at all times, weather notwithstanding.

AutoTex Wiper Blades

In case you want to spare some extra coins to get a quality windscreen then The AutoTex B1-24 B1Pro Premium Beam Windshield Wiper Blade is a definite recommendation for you. This wiper also comes with The VorTex symmetrical spoiler. This feature enables maximum contact with the windscreen and thus removing surplus water from it. This blade works well with all types of weather, efficiently eliminating any obstacles on the screen surface.

Made entirely from rubber, this blade has equally good performance in winter as it does in summer. It comes with a specialized rubber, to keep the wiper from freezing up during the cold season. It also has a wide variety of sizes to meet the different needs of clientele.  This product is purchasable from the 18 inch to the 28-inch models. Finding a suitable blade for both the passenger and the driver side should be easy. Given that they are available in most hardware stores nearby.

Tuning Pros Wiper Blades

The fitting design of The TuningPros WBU-24-19 Multiple Adapter Bracketless Windshield Wiper Blade is a feature that is hardly overlooked. This product uses the latest dual rubber technology.  Plus, it ensures that there is no clatter on the windscreen as is the case with customary wipers. Its design will give a smooth clean without making unnecessary noise.

The TuningPros blade also has a specialized weather connector. This connector prevents the accumulation of ice and snow during winter and avoids problems when in use. This wiper is perfect to use no matter what the season is and it is definitely worth every penny.

SilBlade Wiper Blades

The Silblade Premium wiper blades are another one of our favorite picks because of the top-notch performance coupled with affordable pricing. The frame is coated with powder to help it stay in proper form. However, it also comes in a wide range of services for different vehicles. This enables it to fit on most cars and is move very smoothly across the windshield, regardless of weather conditions. It’s definitely something you’re going to fall in love with. Especially if you’ve spent the better part of your life using poor quality Chinese-brand products.

The Silblade was also designed in such a way that it can fit on both the passenger and driver side. This wiper blade technically come in sizes varying from 11 to 28 inches. Meaning it is ideal for different car sizes out there. This also takes care of the different wiper positions – driver, passenger, and rear.

Summary

All choices above are relatively good, though they do differ in quality. In this case, the general rule goes with the old adage correlating price and quality. Each is unique in its own way. Some are more suitable for outdoor environments while others are great for pretty much any application.

Some of them also come with the appropriate adapters. While others like Valeo you don’t really need one and will be good to go. The Rain-X and Bosch brands come together with J hooks and a variety of pin adapters. Meaning to say, these wiper blades are perfect for all car models. The ANCO, on the other hand, uses a KwikConnect adapter for easier fitting.