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The best wiper blades don't have to cost a fortune

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 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 inexpensive models.

There are three main types of wiper blades:

  • Traditional wiper blades usually cost the least -- about $6 to $14 for a single blade. The cheapest use a rubber blade attached to an external framework, while pricier wipers coat the blade with Teflon to make it slide better. This classic-style wiper blade works well in the rain, but ice and snow can clog up the exposed skeleton in the winter and freeze the wipers.
  • Beam wiper blades solve the snow-and-ice problem by ditching the external framework. Slim, spring-loaded supports are built into the wiper itself, giving a sleeker look. These cost more -- about $15 to $19 each. Many new cars come with beam blades as original equipment; you might need to replace these with beam blades, as traditional wiper blades may not fit.
  • Silicone wiper blades work just about as well as rubber blades in the rain, tests show -- but they really shine in extreme grime. They often come with a silicone wipe to treat your windshield when installing the blades, and the blades themselves are saturated with silicone to treat the glass with each swipe. Off-roaders and rally racers swear by silicone wiper blades, and some everyday car owners like their sleeker look and silent operation. But silicone wipers are expensive ($20 to $40 for each one).

To find wiper blades that will make your windshield sparkle, we examine professional and user reviews to pinpoint the wiper blades that clean flawlessly, wipe silently and hold up to real-world use. Factors we consider include performance, dependability and value. 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 (note that some vehicles use different wiper sizes for the driver and passenger sides).

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