Types of Wiper Blades
Cheap Wiper Blades
These are traditional windshield wipers that have a rubber blade attached to an external framework. 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. That can result in smearing, streaking, or in extreme cases, a complete freeze-up that leaves the wipers totally nonfunctional. This type of windshield wiper typically costs between $8 and $16 for a single blade.
Winter Wiper Blades
Beam-style 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 and a lower profile. These windshield wipers cost more -- about $15 to $25 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.
ignore your 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 checking your wipers every few months and replacing them at
least every six months, 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.
What type of windshield wipers to choose depends on your driving
conditions and your budget. If you do a lot of winter driving, beam blades are
likely to be your best choice – and it's worth springing for good ones. Testers
at ConsumerReports.org say that the best beam blades perform as well or better
than conventional blades, but cheaper beam blades can perform worse. The
editors at Wirecutter.com note that beam blades really
are superior for winter driving "because their sleek design doesn't give
snow and ice anything to build up on."
Moreover, the manufacturers and other experts they consulted say that
beam blades can offer better 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,
the editors also note that users who review windshield wipers don't report that
beam blades are longer-lived.
Wiper blades made of silicone-infused 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 standard
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.
A word on pricing
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.
Finding The Best Wiper Blades
"The Best Windshield Wipers for Your Car"
"Windshield Wiper Blades"
The best windshield wipers should clean flawlessly, work
silently, and hold up well. To find wiper blades that will make your windshield
sparkle, we examine expert feedback, including testing and general buying
advice, from sites such as ConsumerReports.org and Wirecutter.com, as well as
user reviews from Amazon.com, Walmart.com and various auto-parts sites. We name
the best windshield wipers for every budget, from inexpensive rubber wipers to
the premium brands.
However, our recommendations come with an important caveat: As the
editors of Wirecutter.com note, "the best wiper blade is the one that fits
your vehicle and performs well throughout its service life." That's
because windshield shapes vary significantly, particularly among newer vehicles.
This explains why almost all wipers – even well-reviewed ones – attract
a significant number of negative user reviews. As the editors point out, "Even
the best quality blade may perform poorly if it doesn't fit."
Cheap wiper blades get the job done
If you use your windshield wipers mostly in rain, rather than snow,
traditional bracket blades — the kind with a rubber blade attached to an
external frame — should serve you just as well as winter wiper blades,
at less cost. The best-rated wiper blade we've found in this category is the (Est. $10). In a long-term test of windshield wipers at Wirecutter.com, this wiper
blade got high marks from most of the drivers who tried it, holding its own
against both rain and snow. It was also the top scorer in a 2008 test of windshield
wipers at ConsumerReports.org, though that test was done in a lab with
simulated rain and didn't cover winter driving conditions. The Valeo 600 does
well in user reviews, too, earning an overall rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 from
more than 1,000 owners at Amazon.com.
The design of the Valeo 600 is pretty basic. It has a traditional metal
bracket made of corrosion-resistant galvanized steel, holding a
synthetic-rubber blade with a natural-rubber wiping edge. A special coating
protects the rubber from UV rays, dirt, ozone and fluids that can deteriorate
windshield wipers. The wipers come with a pre-installed "universal adapter"
for easy installation on a typical hook-shaped clip, as well as a set of
adapters that Valeo claims will allow them to fit 98 percent of the vehicles on
the road. However, we still saw some complaints from owners at Amazon.com who
say that it was difficult to figure out how to get these wipers onto their
cars' bracket arms. Some owners, particularly drivers of Honda Fits, say they
weren't able to use the blades at all.
Despite these problems, most owners like the Valeo 600. Users generally
say it keeps the windshield clear, is quiet, and has a reasonably long
lifespan. You can certainly expect a solid six months out of these Valeo wiper
blades, and several owners report that their Valeo 600 blades are still going
strong after a year of use. The main problem owners report with these wiper
blades is that they don't make contact with the full field of vision on their
vehicles, hampering their visibility difficult in poor weather conditions. This
just goes to show that when choosing windshield wipers, the most important
factor is which one works best with your vehicle.
If the Valeo 600 doesn't work for your vehicle, another good choice is
the (Est. $10).
This wiper blade wasn't included in the long-term test at Wirecutter.com, but
the editors of the site still recommend it based on its solid ratings
from users at retail sites. The Rain-X Weatherbeater earns an overall rating of
3.9 stars out of 5 from more than 3,000 owners at Amazon.com – not as
good as the Valeo 600, but still respectable. We also found more than 900
reviews for it at AdvanceAutoParts.com, with ratings of around 4.5 stars out
Like the Valeo 600, these windshield wipers have a galvanized steel
frame that resists corrosion and rust. However, the blade is made of
all-natural squeegee rubber rather than a combination of natural and synthetic
rubber. The manufacturer claims this helps them hold up against cracking and
tearing caused by salt, fluids, and extreme heat and cold. Rain-X Weatherbeater
windshield wipers come with a small j-hook adapter already attached, and they
also contain a multi-adapter for different types of wiper blade arms, including
side pin, large j-hook and bayonet wiper blade arms.
While a few owners say they have successfully used the Rain-X
Weatherbeater wipers in wintry conditions, reviewers are more impressed with
their performance in heavy rain. Most owners report that these windshield
wipers fit their vehicles well, run quietly, and are easy to install. Reports
of their durability are mixed; some users say these blades last longer than the
expected 6-month lifetime, but there are also a few who say they literally fell
to pieces within a few months. Also, the Rain-X Weatherbeater gets even more
complaints than the Valeo 600 from owners who say these blades either didn't
fit their wiper arms or didn't cover the windshield well on their specific
Overall, both the Valeo 600 and the Rain-X Weatherbeater appear to be
reasonable choices for drivers who don't do a lot of winter driving and want to
save a few bucks on wiper blades. The Valeo gets our Best-Reviewed pick because
its higher ratio of 5-star reviews to 1-star reviews suggest that it works well
for more drivers. Nonetheless, it's worth digging deeper into the reviews to
see which blade is likelier to work well for your specific vehicle before