Changing the windshield wipers is something most of us put off until we really have to. Choosing the best windshield wipers is not as simple as choosing the most expensive or fanciest available. You first need to understand the different types available (and there is no shortage to choose from)
It's actually a really simple job, and choosing the best wiper blades for your car will make driving in the rain much easier and could even save your life.
The Best Wiper Blades - Top 5
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Best Wiper Blades - Detailed Reviews
Bosch are one of the most popular aftermarket and OEM brands around. I’ve been using their wiper blades for years, and I’m a big fan of their AeroTwin range of wiper blades. If you check out the Bosch website, they produce a huge variety of wiper blades, and it can get confusing pretty quickly.
The Icon Range of wiper blades are their latest all weather blades. They offer the best possible combination of performance and longevity in the Bosch range. They won’t be the absolute best at clearing your windscreen(that would be the Bosch Evolution Range) but they will last the longest while being highly effective in most weather conditions.
The most important part of any wiper is the rubber, and it’s resistance to cracking. The Icons use ClearMax 365 rubber blades. Bosch claim that they won’t crack, even after hundreds of hours of exposure to ozone. Why is this important I hear you ask? Well ozone is the number one enemy of rubber. Over time it causes a phenomenon known as ozone cracking in rubber products, including wiper blades.
If you check out the hundreds of online reviews for these wiper blades, you’ll see these wiper blades do indeed last a long time. Of course, longevity is subjective and can be affected by weather conditions, how often you use the wipers and how well you maintain them.
Another unique feature of these wiper blades is the enclosed tension spring. This helps to keep the blade shaped to the curvature of the windscreen. This is important especially in colder temperatures where the rubber can become stiffer and less likely to sit flat against the glass. It also helps to keep the wiper moving against the glass when driving at high speed in windy weather.
If you are a wiper blade expert you’ll notice the absence of a large spoiler on these particular blades. To make them more winter friendly they sport an asymmetrical, flexible spoiler design instead. This helps to stop them getting clogged up with ice and snow, but can make them less effective in stormy weather or if the windscreen is covered in traffic film or grit.
Like all wipers from Bosch, they also feature hook adapters that connect to most wiper arms. They are really easy to fit, and only take a few minutes to attach to your car.
I think these blades are great all rounders. If your car came with Bosch blades on it, then these are great replacements. If you usually buy cheap wiper blades in your local supermarket, then treat your car to a nice upgrade. Yes they do cost a bit more than your average set of aftermarket wiper blades, but trust me you won’t be disappointed with them.
Make sure that you double check the size that you need to before you buy. Bosch wiper blade part numbers have an A or a B. The driver side will always be an A number, but the passenger side can be A or B. B will be more curved, so that it hugs the windscreen better.
'Best Budget Wiper Blades'
Aero are not industry leaders in the car accessory market (yet!) . From what I can see, I don't even think they have their own website? So why have I included these wiper blades on my list of best wiper blades?
Well it appears that what we've got here is a bargain. These particular wiper blades are marketed as OEM quality, replacement wiper blades. Meaning they should be of the same quality and fit as the wiper blades fitted to your car in the factory. On top of that, not only do they come with a 6 month warranty, but a set of Aero wiper blades is going to cost you around half the price of a genuine or OE set of wiper blades.
So they can't be the as good as the more expensive blades? Can they? I'll be honest, I haven't tried these wiper blades myself, but they are highly recommended in many reviews, so I figured they were worth a mention here.
Design wise, they are similar to other frameless wiper blades. The premium rubber blade is coated in teflon, meaning it will last a bit longer and just like your teflon frying pan, won't stick to the windsceen!
On the back there is an asymmetrical rubber spoiler to help keep them flat on the windscreen. This won't be as effective as a raised plastic spoiler, but will still help, especially when driving at high speeds.
What I really like about these blades is that they are available in a massive range of sizes and are sold as a pair. Couple that with a fairly universal hook fitting and you won't have any problem choosing a pair to fit your car.
I also like the fact that the Aero wiper blades are cheap, come with a warranty and look a lot like wiper blades that are double the price. Realistically, there's has to be some difference in quality and effectiveness between these and top of the range Bosch or Rain-X wiper blades. But given the fact that you'll probably change most blades at least once a year, it's worth giving the Aero blades a go, because you might be pleasantly surprised.
'Best Hybrid Wiper Blades'
We've all heard of Michelin tyres, but did you know they make wiper blades too? These Stealth wiper blades are hybrids, they combine the strength of framed wiper blades with the aerodynamics of beam blades.
Hybrid blades have been around for the past decade. They first started to appear on Japanese built cars back in the noughties, but are now available for most models as aftermarket upgrades. I've used them on plenty of cars, and they can give a significant improvement over conventional wiper blades.
Conventional wiper blades don't perform well during bad weather, especially if it's windy. They also tend to streak and jump across the windscreen when driving at high speeds. Beam blades are much more aerodynamic, so don't suffer from wind related problems as much. However, beam (flat) wiper blades don't have a frame so they won't exert as much pressure evenly across the blade.
These Michelin Stealth Hybrid blades are nearly as low profile as beam blades. They are covered on the outside by a semi-rigid, semi-flexible plastic trim. This acts as a spoiler and as a frame. This means that the entire wiper blade takes the shape of the windscreen, and is kept flat at all points along it's surface.
The blade itself also features independent suspension, so that it can take the shape of the windscreen as it moves and make a strong seal with the surface of the glass. When you combine this with the smart flex capabilities of the outer shell, you've got a wiper blade that should in theory always stay flat and give the best wiping results.
They also work well in winter conditions, and won't clog up with snow or ice, because of the low profile and lack of frame.
In my experience, Michelin wiper blades can last a couple of years. So even though they can cost around $20 each, they are well worth the investment. They usually come with a load of adapters, so that they should fit the wiper arms on most cars. It's easy to double check online before you buy, to make sure they'll fit your car.
The only downside i've found with hybrid wiper blades is that they can really push hard against the windscreen. This is great for clearing the rain away, but they can sometimes make some noise if it's not raining much. This is usually the result of some traffic grease or grit on your windscreen, and not faulty wiper blades. This is easily sorted by using a windscreen cleaner or by adding a good windshield washer fluid next time you top up the washer bottle.
The Michelin Stealth wiper blades are an essential upgrade if your car still has the traditional frame blades. Not only will they last longer, but they'll also perform better (Michelin say even after 300,000 wipe cycles they'll still be better), no matter what type of weather you throw at them.
'Best Framed Wiper Blades'
Rain-X are definitely one of the industry leaders in windshield products. I've been a longtime advocate of their washer additives and rain beading products. They also produce a wide range of wiper blades including hybrid and beam designs.
I've chosen their cheapest, standard design the WeatherBeater range for my list today. Most big wiper blade manufacturers such as Bosch and Michelin no longer produce conventional framed wiper blades. So if you aren't a fan of the beam or hybrid style, then your options can be limited if you want to stick with an affordable, but branded wiper blade.
The weather beater wiper blades are an enhanced, framed design. The frame is made from galvanised steel, so it won't rust. It is connected to the rubber blade at eight different points along the blade length. This means there is equal pressure applied across the entire blade. Everything is supported by an outer frame, to which the wiper arm is attached.
The blade itself is an all natural rubber that should resist cracking and breaking a bit more than your average aftermarket wiper blade.
These wiper blades probably won't perform as well as hybrid blades under extreme conditions, or in really bad weather. However, they are a tried and tested design (they've been around for over 15 years), and they are widely compatible with just about any type of car, SUV or truck. In the box there's a small J-hook adapter and you also get a multi-adapter for side pin, large J-hook and bayonet wiper blade arms.
They are also about half the price of other branded wiper blades on the market, so they are great value too. It's worth noting, that these particular wiper blades don't have any Rain-X water repellant chemicals built into the rubber strip. I prefer to choose my own windscreen protection, and apply it manually or via the washer bottle. So if you're not a fan of Rain-X protectants, then don't let the name put you off the weather beater blades.
'Best OE Aftermarket Wiper Blades'
Valeo are an OE supplier to many auto makers such as Audi and BMW, so you can be sure they make great quality aftermarket wiper blades. I've used them on many cars, and I've always been impressed by how well they mimic the performance of factory fitted wiper blades.
The Ultimate 900 series from Valeo, are an all-weather beam style wiper blade that are made from a single piece or flexible rubber. Like many other flat wiper blades, they are strengthened by a steel frame that runs up the inside of the wiper blade. Valeo have taken this one step further by using integrated flexors that create 1500 pressure points across the blade as it touches the windscreen. This makes the blade very effective at clearing the windscreen. Almost handheld squeegee effective, according to one reviewer on Amazon.
The blade itself is also made from a single piece of coated rubber. This makes it quieter, more robust and means it should last longer than many other wiper blades on the market. If you look closely at the spoiler on these wiper blades, you'll see that it's fairly low in profile and doesn't look as effective as other wiper blades in it's class.
Performance wise, these have to be one of the best aftermarket wiper blades you can buy. Valeo supply many auto manufacturers with wipers, so if you do replace your original wipers with these, you won't notice any difference in performance. They are also one of the quietest wiper blades when new. I put this down to the sleek aerodynamic design and the use of or premium grade rubber. Of course, like any wiper blade, you need to look after them and keep them clean and lubricated or else they will start to break down and get noisy.
I also like the fact that they also perform well in snow and ice. This means you can leave them on your car all year round, and don't have to worry about them clogging up and sticking to the windscreen at the first sign of snow.
If you are fussy about keeping your car in factory condition, then these are the blades for you. They are one of the best aftermarket wiper blades that will mimic a factory fitted blade. They are also backed up by a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty against defects, and thousands of positive online reviews.
Best Windshield Wipers - Quick Reviews
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These blades are a no frills metal framed option for those on a budget. They may be at the lower end of the wiper blade market, but that doesn't mean that they are low on features. You can pickup these wiper blades in sizes ranging from 10 to 28", and they are designed to give an OE fit to suitable vehicles.
Anco have developed a unique rubber compound for the blade that they call DuraKlear. It promises a streak-free wipe every time, and makes these wiper blades stand out from other low budget options.
Another nice feature is the KwikConnect connector, that allows quick and easy fitment. Couple that with a flexible, vented frame and these blades should perform well in most conditions.
Overall, you can't go wrong with these wiper blades. Assuming you are replacing metal framed wiper blades, and you can get these in the right size, then they are a bargain buy. Even if you are going to use them in extreme conditions, you could buy two sets and still have some change left for a bottle of windshield washer fluid!
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These are another metal framed wiper blade, but what sets these apart from the rest is the type of rubber blade they use. PIAA use a silicone rubber blade that they claim will last over two times longer than standard blades.
They work by leaving a silicone coating on the windshield that acts as a water repellant. This makes it easier for the wipers to clear the windshield, and even helps water to run off the windshield by itself.
You also get a couple of different connector types in the box, along with a windshield prep pack. The prep pack is used to clean the windshield before you install the silicone blades. It removes any dirt or greasy traffic film that could reduce the effectiveness of the wiper blades.
In theory, these wiper blades are good upgrade from standard rubber blades. In reality, their performance relies a lot on how clean you keep your windshield. If you do a lot of city driving you'll need to clean your windshield regularly for maximum benefit. In saying that, the silicone rubber should last longer than standard rubber, so there is a saving to be made by buying these wiper blades.
How To Tell If Windshield Wipers Are Bad
Experts will tell us that we should change our wiper blades every 6 to 12 months. I've often gotten 2 to 3 years out of a good set of wiper blades. It all depends on where you drive, how often you use your wipers and the weather conditions that they are exposed to.
Wipers don't like extreme sunlight or searing heat. Nor do they like excessive dusty, gritty, slimy traffic dirt. What they do like is rain water and a little bit of TLC.
This keeps the rubber moist and lubricated, and helps stave off cracking and pitting. You can also extend the life of your wiper blades by cleaning them regularly with a little rubbing alcohol. This will remove any harmful contaminants and will lubricate the rubber.
There are four basic symptoms of a failing wiper blade to look for when trying decide if a wiper blade needs replacing.
- Hazing - This is caused by the hardening of the wiper blade rubber. As the wiper moves across the windshield, the rubber blade should flex and sweep away rain water, like a squeegee. Over time, the rubber in wiper blades will harden and won't flex as easily, especially in colder weather. This reduces the effectiveness of the wiper blade, and leaves a water haze on the windshield.
- Striping - Stripes can be left on the windshield by damaged wiper blades. The stripes are caused by pits in the rubber. These sections of wiper blade no longer touch the windshield, and leave these areas uncleaned. Extreme temperatures, and exposure to snow and excessive dirt and grit can damage the wiper blade rubber in this way.
- Screeching - I hate noisy wiper blades! There is nothing worse than sitting in traffic and having to listen to the intermittent screech of a wiper blade. Again, this is caused by the hardening of the rubber blade and the fact that it no longer sits flat on the windshield.
- Bouncing - Another symptom of a bad wiper blade is when it bounces and judders across the windshield. This can be caused by uneven wear to the rubber blade so that it no longer takes the shape of the windscreen. It can also be caused by a loss of tension in the frame or inner springs of the wiper blade.
How To Check For Worn Windshield Wiper Blades
It's really easy to check for worn wiper blades because they are easy to access and you don't need any special tools.
You should check the wiper blades once a month, especially during the winter when they often can break or become damaged due to bad weather.
Here's how you do it:
- Gently lift the wiper blade arm away from the windscreen, it should spring back and stay up by itself.
- Now rotate the wiper blade so that the part that touches the windscreen is facing upwards (so you can see it).
- Now check the blade part for any cracks or pitting of the rubber.
- Gently flex the wiper blade to ensure it is still flexible (and hasn't hardened)
- If it's a conventional blade with a frame, check the frame for any breakages along it's length. Make sure there is no rust on the frame and that it connects securely to the wiper arm. Also check that the rubber part is still connected to the frame at all of the connected points
- If the wiper blade is a flat blade without a frame, then check that it securely connects to the wiper arm, and that it is flexible and slightly curved when you lift it from the windscreen
It's important to make sure that you have working wiper blades that are fit for purpose. Not only is it a matter of safety, in some states it's the law.
Best Windshield Wiper Blade - Buyers Guide
The recommended way to choose the best windshield wiper for your car, is to use a vehicle fitment lookup tool that most manufacturers will provide. Simply select the model and year, and you'll get a list of all the compatible wiper blades.
Sometimes there will be more than one option available, so it's good to know about the different types of wiper blade available before you buy.
1. Types Of Wiper Blades
Hybrid Wiper Blades
Hybrid wiper blades are the latest in wiper blade technology and are fitted to many new cars. They closely resemble beam blades, but feature an outer shell, similar to the frame found on conventional wiper blades. The outer spoiler runs the length of the rubber blade and gives it an extra rigidity that helps to keep it flat on the windscreen. These blades are generally longer lasting and are great in all weathers due to their ice and snow resistance.
Beam (Flat) Wiper Blades
Often referred to as beam wiper blades, these are the most common available today. They come fitted to most new cars, or are available as afterwork upgrades. These wiper blades are frameless, and consist of a single rubber blade with an inner wire strip.
The wire strip is curved to the shape of the windscreen, and helps to hold the rubber blade flat against the windscreen. As there is no outer frame, the blade is more aerodynamic and less likely to trap snow, ice or leaves.The inner frame also evenly distributes pressure along the length of the blade, ensuring it wears evenly. Some flat wiper blades also feature a spoiler, to give additional support during bad weather.
Conventional (Framed) Wiper Blades
These are the classic framed blades that you will find on most older cars. They usually consist of a metal frame that holds a rubber strip in place on the windscreen.
Even though they are generally cheap to replace, they won’t last as long as newer flat or hybrid blades. They also tend to perform badly during bad weather as they can collect debris or get clogged up with ice during cold weather.
Most cars that have conventional wipers can be upgraded to beam or hybrid blades
2. Different Types Of Wiper Blade Connector
There are three common types of windshield wiper arm connectors. The connector is the part of the wiper blade, or wiper blade frame that connects to the wiper arm on the car.
- The Hook (or J-Hook) - This is one of the most common connector types on vehicles in recent years. The end of the wiper arm is bent into a you shape, that the wiper blade hooks onto.
- Bayonet Connector - This where the wiper arm is not bent and is straight (like a bayonet) with a hole it it near the tip. This hole is for attaching the wiper blade.
- The Pin Arm - This type of wiper blade connector is basically a large pin (usually made from plastic) that is positioned near the end of the wiper arm on the side. This is pushed into a hole on the wiper blade to hold it in place.
3. Different type of windshield wiper blade material
The "blade" part of the wiper blade is the part that touches the windshield is responsible for clearing away rainwater effectively. It's important to choose the right kind of blade material to suit your car and the type of weather you normally encounter.
There are three main types of blade on the market, all are made from rubber, or a rubber compound but some also have a protective coating.
1. Standard Rubber Wiper Blades - These are standard blades, and can do the job perfectly but may not last as long as the coated blades. They also may not perform as well in really cold conditions, where there is a chance they may stick to the windshield.
2. Silicone/Rubber Compound Wiper blades - These blades are made from a highly resilient rubber-silicone compound. They are manufactured to withstand extreme weather conditions, and they generally last longer than standard wiper blades. They usually cost a bit more but will usually last longer.
3. Teflon coated wiper blades - Teflon coated wiper blades are rubber blades with a durable teflon coating. Teflon wiper blades, much like your teflon frying pan, are durable and won't stick to the windscreen. They should last longer than other wiper blades, although sometimes the teflon properties are lost over time, especially in colder climates.
4. Wiper Blade Size
It's really important that you choose the correct size wiper blade for your car. If choose a size that are too big, they can drag against the rubber seal on the windscreen, causing damage or a worn out wiper motor. Too small, and they won't effectively clear the windshield.
It's a good idea to measure the existing wiper blades on your car before you shop for new ones. You'll need to measure the length of the blade from end to end to get an accurate measurement.
Most vehicle fitment tools will recommend a wiper size, but this isn't always correct. You should also check the user manual too, just in case there are any special vehicle specific instructions you need to be aware of.
5. Wiper Blade Cost
The most expensive wiper blades are not always the best choice. Generally, flat and hybrid wiper blades will be more expensive than the conventional type. This is also true for silicone and teflon coated blades.
It's worth pricing up all your options and base your decision on your annual mileage and the type of conditions you will be driving in. Sometimes the more expensive wiper blades are not worth the money, especially if you won't be using them much.
If you regularly drive in really cold, wintery conditions, then it may be worth upgrading to a high performance wiper blade.
How to Change A Windshield Wiper Blade
Changing a windshield wiper blade can become a tricky procedure if you've never done it before. It's not possible to cover every type of change here, instead I'll explain how to change a J-Hook wiper blade as this is the most common type.
- Start by lifting the wiper arm away from the windscreen until it springs into it's upright position.
- Pivot the blade upwards so that the rubber edge is facing you.
- Carefully note the orientation of the wiper blade before you remove it. This is important for lining up the new blade.
- Now squeeze the plastic connector clip and slide the wiper blade downwards towards the bonnet. It may be a tight fit so be careful not to hit off the bonnet if it suddenly releases.
- Clean the hook on the end of the wiper arm.
- Now take the new wiper blade from the box and remove the protective plastic from the blade if present.
- Now hold up the wiper blade in the same orientation as the one you just removed (remember tip number 3 above!)
- Gently push the wiper blade connector up onto the wiper arm until you hear a click
- Finally rotate the blade so that it points down towards the windscreen and fold the wiper arm gently back down until the blade is sitting on the windscreen.
- Check that the wiper blade is sitting flat on the windscreen and that there are no gaps between the rubber blade and the glass.