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Chattering, squeaking, grabbing, or skipping while trying to clear your windshield of snow, slush, and water are tell-tale signs that your wipers need replacement. Likewise, if your wipers leave bands or streaks of water, they may no longer be in top condition. According to Consumer Reports, wipers usually perform well for around nine to twelve months.
While this may vary depending on prevailing conditions as well as the “rubber” composition of your blade, their service life is finite. While they are expected to deteriorate with constant use and snowy and wet conditions, they can also quickly degrade even in areas that have long dry spells. The dryness, heat and sunlight can negatively affect the rubber element.
In some cases, long unused wipers stick to the windshield glass and have to be peeled off. If you live in a dry region, it is recommended to run your wipers as you spray washer fluid on your windshield once a week.
Try cleaning the rubber blades once you notice problems in your wipers. There are times when a little cleaning is all it takes to get rid of the problem and extend the useful life of your blades by a few months or weeks. Dab some washer fluid, water or rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth or paper towel and run it on the blade’s edge.
Likewise, try to feel if there are any roughness or stuck debris. Ideally, the edge should be smooth and sharp with no chips, gaps or nicks. The rubber must likewise be pliable, and not brittle or cracked (check out this visual).
Some kind of film can build up on windshields from greasy, oily road-grime spray. The film can be removed from the windshield through a deep surface clean using a windshield stripper. While it may need some elbow grease, it can help restore the glass to a brand new-like condition. However, if mere cleaning doesn’t solve your wiper woes, then replacements are in order. As previously mentioned, replacements must always be done in pairs.
The question is: how frequently should wipers be replaced? Repair shops and wiper manufacturers recommend wiper replacement every 6 months. For some car owners, annual replacements would suffice. If you have difficulty remembering your maintenance schedules, a good tip is to relate the task to a regular event, such as your annual vehicle inspection. This is why the wiper industry has tried to promote Groundhog Day as the designated “day for wiper replacement.” Feel free to adopt it if you think it will work for you.
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Wiper Blade Types
Various types of windshield wiper blades are available on the market today. These include the traditional bracket blade, low-profile beam design, and the newer hybrid blade models that combine traditional and beam designs. Each type comes with its own set of pros and cons, and the best type for you will depend on your local climate, vehicle, and budget.
Typically, the cheapest models are the older styles that use a framework fitted with numerous contact points for pressing the blades onto the windshield. They are likewise susceptible to wintry weather. Ice and snow may accumulate in the metal framework, binding the wiper and eventually causing streaking, smearing or complete windshield-clearing failure.
If you’ve experienced driving at a time before the beam blades’ popularity rose, you may remember having to open the window as you drove to reach out and “snap” the wiper against the glass to get rid of the ice build-up. To address this issue, “winter” blades were introduced. Basically, these blades were fitted with a rubber boot to cover the metal framework and keep ice at bay. Since the introduction of beam blades, however, the winter wipers have disappeared into oblivion.
Beam blades, with their single piece of curved metal in the blade that provides contact and tension, perform better than bracket-style wipers in wintry weather conditions. This is because the sleek design does not allow ice and snow to build up. Beam blades are as expected, more expensive since they offer better overall performance and are more durable because the force is evenly spread along the blade’s length, and not at the contacts where the brackets are attached.
In low temperatures, the beam types maintain better windshield contact. They likewise generate less chatter, and there is better distribution of pressure. With a bracket type, the load path passes through the frame to the claw connectors to the blade. The claws receive the brunt of the pressure, which makes them wear faster. The beams can be engineered more precisely for the purpose of creating the ideal curvature for the windshield’s radius. This allows for even pressure and consistent wear.
Just make sure to find a blade that fits your car perfectly since windshields have varying curvatures.
When it comes to durability, both our tests and those of Consumer Reports did not yield any remarkable difference between the bracket and beam blades. In recent years, hybrid blades have risen in popularity. Their construction is similar to that of bracket blades, except that it has an outer shell that is responsible for its more aerodynamic shape and lower profile.
It likewise gives the hybrid blade a similar resistance to ice and snow build-up just like beam types. If your car is originally equipped with brackets, you may opt for a beam or hybrid upgrade. On the other hand, if your original wipers have beam blades, then your replacements should only be of the same blade type so you can be sure to get the same level of performance and the right fit.
What Are Windshield Wiper Blades Made From?
Rubber Blades – Rubber is typically used for traditional blades that are inexpensive and easy to make. The material is flexible, can attach well to the metal housing, and is powerful enough to maintain a clear windshield. Among the downsides, rubber may not last long when constantly exposed to the elements like ice and snow, or heat and sun.
It is prone to drying and cracking after a round of season changes. Thus, traditional blade types are recommended to be replaced twice a year.
Silicone Blades – The newest type of material today, silicone blades can withstand harsh weather conditions better than rubber-made blades. With the same flexibility and design of rubber blades, but less susceptible to cracking and less sensitive to the elements, silicone blades are generally long lasting unless when regularly used in off-roading and other extreme conditions.
Another good thing about silicone is its ability to leave oil traces on the glass that allows water to bead, making it easier for the wiper to clear the windshield. Silicone blades, in general, also last longer than rubber blades. Thus, they are more preferred for use in high performance vehicles like 4x4s that require dirt and mud protection when driving off-road. They are also typically installed in sports cars and other higher-end vehicles.
Coated Blades – High performance wiper blades today are usually enhanced with rubber properties to extend their useful life and improve performance. The most popular are Teflon and graphite-coated blades. The part of the blade that touches the glass is coated with the material.
This results to a more durable blade that will not quickly wear out, while providing a streak-free and cleaner job.
Wiper Blade Installation
A lot of car owners resort to DIY blade replacement. Although some motorists have the foresight to schedule wiper replacement at a convenient time in their garage, chances are, a lot of people to it outdoors, maybe even in darkness or in the rain after getting fed-up with their worn out blades. Some may not even have decent tools. In addition to leaning over in an awkward manner just to get to either or both of the blades, there is also the anxiety of working over paint that is prone to scratching and windshield that is breakable.
It is then safe to say that convenient wiper blade removal and installation is crucial. There are various ways to mount wiper blades, the most popular of which is using a hook mount. Wiper arms that are hook mounted, in general, are easy to install and dismount. Just insert the arm in the wiper blade bridge slot, align the adapter to the hook, and snap everything in place. There are models that give out a “confirmation” click to signify that the blade is locked into place.
Most models are designed to be removed and installed even without tools, though some models may require pressing or prying using a screwdriver. A hammer may also be used to lightly tap the wiper blade off. This review finds a hammer more convenient to use than a screwdriver. For one, there is less risk of stabbing your hand.
Refilling Existing Wiper Blades
Some people are able to save a few bucks by replacing only the wiper’s rubber element or wiper refill/insert, while the existing metal frame is retained. While this is definitely a cheaper option than replacing the entire wiper assembly, it has major drawbacks that make it not advisable for some people. For one, you need to find the proper replacement element, making it important to know the exact type of your existing wiper to make sure you get the appropriate material. Likewise, replacement inserts are more difficult to find these days.
They are also difficult to install since you must be able to handle a pair of needle-nose pliers deftly. Simply put, it is a tedious task that may not be worth the savings you will get. Besides, other parts of the wiper are also prone to wear and tear, and even if you successfully replace the insert, other parts may wear out soon after particularly in the case of traditional bracket designs. The rigors of normal wear may also take their toll on the framework and connections of the wiper. Parts may also loosen that may cause rattling, skipping or losing contact with the windshield.
Mike Allen, former automotive editor of Popular Mechanics said that by the time wiper inserts are needed, the articulated arm is most likely in bad condition, as well. If it sticks, then the blade will not conform to the glass’s shape. That will leave unwiped areas or streaks. It is therefore advisable to replace the entire assembly. Most shops will likewise tell you that a worn wiper arm can break or loosen that can damage the wiper motor or linkage, and deface the windshield.
Thus, if you know your way around auto parts, know what to do and look for when checking up your wipers, blessed with a bit of patience, and know where to find the proper inserts, then installing inserts DIY-style can save you some money.
1. Bosch ICON Review
Although there is admittedly no single wiper blade that is ideal for all cars, based on our research, the Bosch ICON is the closest there is to one. Our research proves that while visiting your car dealership and spending a little extra can get you wipers that perfectly suit your car, if that is not possible and your only options are to buy online or pick up replacement parts are car parts stores or big box retailers, then the ICON can be your safest bet.
The ICON has a beam blade design that is more effective than traditional bracket designs even in wintry conditions, making it ideal for use the entire year. The ICON is among the consistent top-raters on websites that offer a wide variety of wiper models including Walmart, JC Whitney, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and Amazon. Bosch launched the ICON back in 2005, but the rubber element was reformulated early in 2015 to equip it with the patented “ClearMax 365” composition.
According to the manufacturer, the formula was tested to withstand cracking from ozone longer that other brands in its class, by as much as 40%. Since the test was conducted by Bosch, it may not be 100% credible so take it with a grain of salt. Likewise, ozone is not the only factor that affects blade performance. It is, however, a good indication that there is constant evolution on the market.
It is also undeniable that a lot of users give the product high marks. For example, on Amazon, the majority of ICON buyers are satisfied with their purchase, something that cannot be said of other leading models. Bosch itself is a trusted name in the industry. It is among the biggest car parts providers and supplies original-equipment windshield wipers to leading car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Porsche, based on reports from Autohaus AZ.
According to the automotive shops we talked to, they use wiper blades from the Bosch line for their customers’ replacement needs. They highly recommend the Evolution wipers from Bosch, which is a step down from the same manufacturer’s ICON. They admitted that they used to favor ICON, but have shifted to the Evolution since it is a similar product, but has a lower price. For similar sizes, the Evolution costs a few dollars less. PIAA Super Silicone wipers are also recommended by the shops we interviewed for this review.
2. Bosch 4824 Evolution Review
As the name implies the Bosch 4824 Evolution Bracketless All-Season 24” Wiper Blade can be depended on to deliver in all seasons. Not too many blades can deftly negotiate the treacherous sea air of summer and the havoc-wreaking snowfall of winter. The Evolution can easily negotiate these conditions – and more.
With these blades installed on your vehicle’s windshield, squinting just to see what’s beyond the dirty glass would be unheard of, regardless of the prevailing weather condition.
The Bosch 4824 Evolution Bracketless All-Season 24” Wiper Blade does exactly what it promises – a clear and clean line of vision for the driver at all times, no matter what visibility hazards the environment throws at him. The blades have a rubber wiping edge that have been manufactured and cut in a manner that they can effortlessly wipe away and take care of every single, tiny snow or rain drop.
Because the blades are designed without brackets, they are resistant to ice and snow build-up. Pressure is uniformly applied through the length of the blade, thanks to the dual steel, precision-tension springs fitted on the blade. Thus, all parts of the windshield are cleaned evenly and sufficiently. On the other hand, the wind spoilers direct air flow to the wipers to take full advantage of the blade to windshield contact.
This helps keep the wipers in place even when driving under heavy wind conditions. The blades are likewise easy to install.
3. Rain-X Latitude Review
The Rain-X Latitude 5079281 wiper blade is among our top choices simply because of its top-notch design and high-quality material. It is smooth and grips the windshield surface well, resulting to streak-free operations. By eliminating metal exposure, it is able to prevent ice and snow build-up.
Forged from graphite-coated rubber that is particularly blended to make the blade more durable, Rain-X does not clatter and runs smoothly. It leaves no streaks regardless of the weather condition. It will keep your windshield as well as your sight clear even in poor driving conditions like heavy downpour, snow, and sleet, among others. The Latitude comes in 10 sizes – from 16” to 28”. It is available for both passenger and driver sides that usually require a pair of differently-sized wipers. Installation instructions are simple and easy to follow.
The blade is equipped with a J hook that will fit many cars. It can be considered a universal blade since it also comes with various adapters like side pin adapter, large J hook, PTB, as well as I&L blade arms that will allow the model to fit practically all vehicle makes and models. The Latitude is an all-weather wiper suitable for use both during winter and summer. It will not crack as the rubber is extremely durable. It produces a squeegee effect that keeps glasses clear, regardless of the weather.
The wiper has a contoured shape to allow the blade to tightly fit and grip the windshield. With continuous and even pressure, streaking is eliminated. The wiper likewise performs well at normal highway speeds.
Because of its contoured shape and impressive construction, the model is longer lasting than the cheaper traditional blades. The high quality rubber is specifically designed to endure the elements. Thus, frequent replacements are not necessary. The blade has a built-in aerodynamic spoiler that helps reduce wind lift and noise. The Rain-X Latitude also has the benefit of being reversible. The blade can be removed, turned around, and installed at the same side of the car.
This way, the wiper will last longer, saving you some money in the process. The wiper also comes with various adapters that will allow you to install it on a wide variety of vehicles.
Most users love the high-quality blade because it saves money and lasts longer than most other brands on the market. It likewise eliminates the need for frequent replacements. In addition, the blade can be easily installed in a matter of a few minutes. The curved, smooth fit offers a no-streak, clean stroke. The blades are long enough to cover the entire windshield, offering a clearer and better view for drivers in all types of weather.
4. Rain-X Weatherbeater Review
Both the Weatherbeater and Latitude offer a similar technology in handling visibility issues on the road, except that the former is a slightly improved version. It is highly recommended and rated impressively by customers on various authority websites.
The Weatherbeater is equipped with a squeegee-type rubber blade that is all natural. It can endure virtually all threats to the wiper blades including sleet, snow, ice, rain, heat, salt, ozone, as well as extreme changes in weather – everything that can cause tearing and cracking of the rubber blades that can ultimately render your wipers ineffective. Using torn and broken rubber on your windshield will leave streak marks that are both potentially dangerous and unfortunate.
The Weatherbeater’s effective design can avert these problems. The blade’s galvanized steel frame is designed to combat the corrosive effects of rain and wet weather that can easily damage wiper blades of lower quality. Although the Weatherbeater does not boast of a curved design like the Latitude, it is still easy to install.
Because the blade does not come with various connector options, a bit of help from the local car parts store may be necessary.
Designed as an all-weather windshield wiper, the Rain-X Weatherbeater can easily address visibility issues posed by snow, rain, and sleet. With the four pressure points specifically located along the blade, the Weatherbeater ensures even coverage of your windshield. You don’t have to worry about unevenly wiped areas that may hamper your line of sight.
5. ANCO 31 Series Review
Another one among our top choices is the ANCO-31-31-24 model wiper blade as it offers top-notch all-weather performance at an economical price. Made with DuraKlear rubber, the wiper offers clear and clean operations in harsh weather conditions. It comes with various adapters that allow the unit to be installed in practically all types of vehicles, and it is easy to install.
The blade comes in 16 sizes, assuring proper fit for passenger side, driver side, and rear windshield installations. Sizes range between 10 and 28 inches. A vented and flexible bridge provides the wiper a tight grip on the windshield. A Kwik-Connect installation kit is included in the package. It has the required adapters that fit most car makes and models.
Simply put, the ANCO 31 Series is an easy to install universal blade. In fact, it is probably the easiest system to install today. Once you hear an audible “click,” you will know that proper installation has been made.
The ANCO model is aerodynamically designed to work efficiently even when driving at a high speed. In poor weather, it will leave no streaks. For optimum performance, that manufacturer recommends replacement after every 6 months of use. It is also recommended to clean the blades every time the windshield is cleaned. This is because road grim and debris may get on the blade and cause it to wear out more quickly.
In winter months, use an ice scraper to clear the windshield before the wiper blades are use. The uneven surface may cause the blades to crack.
Customers specifically like the affordable price tag for a basic wiper that efficiently does its job. While it doesn’t come with all the nice features found in more expensive blades, and it may need frequent replacements, it is nevertheless a very reliable wiper. It is convenient to install and is available in a number of sizes that can fit most vehicles today.
6. PIAA Super Silicone Review
While it may be a bit more expensive than regular windshield wipers, the PIAA Super Silicone model claims to be longer lasting; and it is backed up by many Amazon users as well as most car parts shops we interviewed for this review. The PIAA Silicone is the best because it is longer lasting and infused with silicone that allows the wiper to leave a water-repellent film layer on the glass. Because it is on the more expensive side, we recommend blades from the Bosch line (ICON or Evolution) to the budget-conscious customers instead.
The silicone element, based on claims made by PIAA, makes the blade last at least 2 times longer than traditional blade models. While users may be enthusiastic about it, we reserve our comment until we have spent a bit more time to test the product.
7. Valeo 900 ULTIMATE Review
Living up to its name, the Valeo 900 ULTIMATE can be used in various seasons all over the globe. It can withstand heavy downpour, strong winds, and snowfall. With this wiper blade, you can see clearly through your windshield even during the harshest of weather conditions. The blades will keep everyone safe, and provide your passengers and you with optimum visibility regardless of the weather or the time of day.
Ice and snow build-up are non-existent with the ULTIMATE wiper simply because there are no metal structures that will allow such build-ups. Thus, as previously mentioned, you are guaranteed optimum visibility throughout your drive, regardless of the prevailing weather condition. Because of the blade’s flat design, it functions well even when during strong winds as there is better contact to the windshield.
Thanks to the blade’s advanced rubber technology, it can glide smoothly and effortlessly over the windshield, with minimal or no noise and friction. This allows the driver to see through the glass with optimum visibility. With 1500 pressure points in all, even pressure is uniformly applied throughout the entire blade. This ensures that the windshield is completely, effectively, and evenly cleaned. As the blade is extremely easy to install, it is extremely easy to use as well.
To sum it all up, the Valeo 900 ULTIMATE All-Season Frameless wiper blade offers a practical solution for buyers out for a reliable pair of wipers that can be used all year round, and in all kinds of weather. The ULTIMATE provides just that, in addition to optimum driver visibility, something that is very crucial in avoiding roadside mishaps caused by visibility issues.
8. Valeo 600 Series Review
The Valeo 600 wiper blade works particularly well in areas where there are heavy snowfalls or extremely high concentrations of sea salt. To prevent corrosion, the blades are made with galvanized steel. Simply put, the blades are designed to last a long time. In one survey conducted by a top consumer magazine, the Valeo 600 Series was dubbed as one of the top winter blades on the market.
For optimum driver comfort and protection, the wiper blade is fitted with specialized features that guarantee high visibility in all types of driving conditions, at all times. The device boasts of Tec3 Advanced Rubber Technology that makes it possible for the wipers to smoothly glide on the windshield – without generating too much noise. The wiper is then able to perform its job of thoroughly and evenly cleaning the windshield to provide the driver with a clear line of vision. For easy installation, the package includes a universal U-clip.
The Valeo 600 wiper blade overall, is a highly recommended buy for people who want a simple and basic wiper that is both quiet and effective. The blades operate over the windshield smoothly to create a clear screen for both the driver and passengers to easily look through. More importantly, the wiper blades keep everyone in the car safe from road mishaps that may result from poor visibility due to inclement weather conditions.