Valeo 600
Valeo 600

Best wiper blades

Despite its modest price, the Valeo 600 is a top performer. Fresh out of the package, it leaves windshields cleaner than wiper blades costing twice as much, and it still does a decent job after six months of real-world use. Users say the Valeo 600 delivers a clean, quiet wipe in rainy weather, but like most traditional wipers, its old-school bracket design has a tendency to clog up in snow.

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Valeo 60022 Series Wiper Blade, 22" (Pack of 1)
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New: $14.99 $8.38   
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Rain-X Latitude
Rain-X Latitude

Best winter wiper blades

Beam wiper blades like the Rain-X Latitude ditch the bulky plastic-and-metal cage of traditional blades, make them less likely to clog up in snow and ice. The Rain-X Latitude performs well in tests, and users say it stands up well to snowy conditions in the real world. Durability is also a strong point; owners say they get 9 to 12 months of use out of these wiper blades.

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Rain-X 5079279-1 Latitude Wiper Blade - 22" (Pack of 1)
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from Amazon.com
New: $21.99 $13.21   
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Average Customer Review:  
PIAA Si-Tech
PIAA Si-Tech

Wiper blades for extreme conditions

Silicone wiper blades like the PIAA Si-Tech are expensive, but owners say the silicone film they leave on the windshield really does help keep it flawlessly clear. These wiper blades are especially prized by off-road enthusiasts and others who drive in extreme conditions. Silicone wiper blades also shine on durability. Owners say their PIAA Si-Tech blades last at least a year, and some report good results for five years or more.

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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Comparing types of wiper blades

If you notice streaks, squeaks or chatter when you use your windshield wipers, it's time to shop for replacement wiper blades. While auto experts recommend replacing your windshield wipers at least once or twice a year, you don't need to spend a lot to get a quality set. In fact, reviews show that some of the best wiper blades are fairly inexpensive.

There are two main types of wiper blades:

Traditional wiper blades have a rubber blade attached to an external framework. In some cases, the blade is coated with Teflon to make it slide better, but tests show this doesn't offer any significant benefit. This classic-style wiper blade works well in the rain, but ice and snow can clog up the exposed skeleton in the winter, keeping the wipers from making good contact with the windshield. This can result in smearing, streaking, or in extreme cases, a complete freeze-up that leaves the wipers totally nonfunctional. Traditional windshield wipers cost anywhere from $5 to $15 for a single blade.

Beam wiper blades solve the snow-and-ice problem by ditching the external framework. Slim, spring steel is built into the wiper itself, giving a sleeker look. These cost more -- about $15 to $20 each. Many new cars come with beam blades as original equipment; you might need to replace these with beam blades when they wear out, as traditional wiper blades may not fit.

What type to choose may depend on your driving conditions and your budget. Testers at ConsumerReports.org say that while pricier beam blades perform as well or better than conventional blades, watch out for cheap alternatives as those tend to perform worse. Ed Grabianowski of TheWirecutter.com, who lives in snowy Buffalo, NY, says that in his experience, beam blades really are superior for driving in ice and snow. With traditional wiper blades, he says, he often had to reach outside the car while driving to "snap" the wiper against the windshield and break up the ice; thanks to his new beam blades, he hasn't had to do this in years.

In addition, Grabianowski notes, manufacturers and other experts he consulted say that beam blades can offer greater performance and durability compared to bracket blades. A traditional blade presses against the windshield at the contact points where the brackets attach, while a beam blade spreads the force out over the entire length of the blade. This allows it to wipe more evenly and also prevents wear at the contact points, extending the blade's lifespan. However, in late October 2015, TheWirecutter.com updated its coverage to say that while it still likes the beam blade it recommends best, continued feedback and testing has led them to conclude that no one blade -- or blades -- is best for every car. "The best advice we can give is to get what fits and replace it regularly—every 9-12 months."

Wiper blades made of silicone rather than rubber are another upgrade to the traditional windshield wiper. Manufacturers claim that the silicone blade coats the windshield with each wipe, causing water to bead up and slide off more easily. They also say these blades last twice as long as rubber ones due to their greater heat and ozone resistance. However, these benefits come with a high price tag: anywhere from $20 to $45 per blade.

Finding the best wiper blades

The best windshield wiper blade should clean flawlessly, wipe silently and hold up well. To find wiper blades that will make your windshield sparkle, we examine expert feedback from sites such as ConsumerReports.org and TheWirecutter.com, as well as user reviews from Amazon.com and various auto-parts sites. We name the best windshield wipers for every budget, from inexpensive rubber wipers to the premium brands.

The prices quoted in this report are for a single 22-inch windshield wiper -- a medium size that fits many sports cars, sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks. To find wiper prices for your specific vehicle, you should check the actual lengths of both your wipers, since some vehicles use different wiper sizes for the driver and passenger sides.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Cheap Windshield Wipers | Best Winter Wiper Blades | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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