Updated: Oct 14, 2016
Wiper Blade Reviews:
- When and How to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades?
- Buying New Wiper Blades
- Maintaining Your Wipers
If you live in a rainy climate like we do, then having wiper blades that work effectively can be a life saver. We live in Portland, Oregon where we get our fair share of rain from October to April every year. You can pretty much bank on it that we will get rain showers throughout the fall and into winter making driving a dangerous proposition if you don't have new windshield wiper blades on your car. Most experts agree that wiper blades are good for roughly 6 months to a year depending on the climate you are living in and how often you use the windshield wipers.
What are some signs that you need to replace your wipers? Look for cracks and tears along the wiper edge. If the rubber edge is brittle or cracking it won't conform to the shape of your windshield. If you see or hear skipping or streaking when the blades are in use, that's another warning sign. Your driving and parking environment is also a factor in the lifespan of your wiper blades - sun can damage the rubber over time, as can salty and dusty air. The blades on cars parked on the street wear out much faster due to climate conditions than cars stored in a garage.
We have found that using windshield treatments like RainX give wiper blades a much longer lifespan since they are working less at getting rid of the water buildup on the windshield. If you only have to use the wipers 50% of the time compared to the other drivers on the freeway, then the wiper blades should last twice as long. This guide will cover the leading windshield wiper blades, how much you can expect to pay, along with tips for installing new wiper blades yourself.
The introductory video below shows how to remove and replace windshield wipers - it's a pretty basic DIY task as long as you have the correct sized blades for your vehicle:
Wiper Blade Buying Guide
Ok, you are ready to go and buy a new set of wiper blades. The first question is what size wiper blade does your car take. Most cars have blades anywhere from 12 to 24 inches, although some minivans with larger windshields will require a bigger wiper blade. We found a pretty good application online that will guide you to the proper size wiper blade for your vehicle at http://www.rainx.com/blade-size-finder/. Just type in your make and model and you will see the measurement for your wiper blades. Then take that to your local auto parts store and get the best brand that fits your needs. The top rated brands for wiper blades are Valeo, RainX, Anco, Michelin, PIAA, Bosch, Trico, Armor All, and Jamak.
Silicone vs Rubber - Conventional wiper blades are made with organic rubber and these tend to break down fairly quick in the elements (sun, rain, etc.), but the newer silicone wiper blades like the Tripledge Premium Silicone Blade or the PIAA Super Silicone are becoming very popular amongst consumers. These blades are more expensive, but they will last longer than traditional blades made with rubber. The silicone blades actually leave a slight residue on the windshield which helps bead-up the water and make it easier for the wipers to brush it off and give you a clear windshield.
In a recent article by Consumer Reports they found that the silicone wipers didn't perform any better than the regular, cheaper models made with rubber. Consumer Reports (CR) tested 15 wiper models and found that most did a very good to excellent job for the first 6 to 9 months but then performance fell off from there. The RainX Latitude was the only one that held up after 6 months, although they were not the best blade for the first 6 months. The Teflon Blade from Trico did the worst in terms of performance after 6 months along with the Anco AeroVantage. Don't think that price guarantees a good wiper blade either. In both the test by CR and other surveys we found, some of the top rated wiper blades were also the least expensive to buy.
The latest technology in wiper blade shape are the beam blades which have no external frame. The Bosch Icon wiper blade is a beam blade that is also referred to as a bracketless wiper blade which ultimately should give the blade a better performance on the curved windshields. Bosch claims the Icon will last up to 20% longer than conventional blades, but tests done by independent parties have not shown this to be true. Expect to spend anywhere from $7 to $20 for an 18-inch wiper blade and $7 to $25 for a 24-inch blade. We can't stress this enough, if you put a windshield treatment like RainX ($4 for a bottle) on your windshield once every couple weeks or so doing the rainy season, you are guaranteed to extend the life of your windshield wipers considerably.
We were introduced to the product by several mechanics and amazed at how less stressful it is now driving on the freeway at 65 MPH even if there is a huge downpour. The RainX treatment (read RainX review) "beads" up the water on the windshield and it literally just slides off the glass like you are in a wind tunnel. We have to assume that by using the RainX solution that you could save $100's over the cars lifetime of having to replace wiper blades less often than others. You can browse the top selling wiper blades online here.
Best Wiper Blades:
The top ranked wiper blades based on several reviews are the Valeo 600 Series ($9 for 18" and $15 for 24 inch blades) which offer superior cleaning ability for at least the first 6 months at the best price. On several car forum and automotive sites we found the Valeo 600 Series wipers receiving comments like "best value wiper blades" and "lasts better than more expensive brands". Other more expensive brands give you similar results but for the added money don't perform any better than the Valeo wiper blades. These windshield wiper blades are crafted with a synthetic rubber upper body and a natural rubber wiping edge. They are more flexible in cold temperatures and provide smoother and quieter wipes than most models. A protective coating on the blades helps protect them from fluids, UV, ozone, and dirt. You can see all the details online at ValeoWipersUSA.com.
Click the image below for more info and tutorials on maintaining and replacing wiper blades.
Top Rated Beam Blade:
Looking for some new technology in a wiper blade? Check out the RainX Latitude ($17.99 -- see link above) which is top rated for longevity in windshield wipers. The RainX wipers have the contoured design which "applies even pressure along the entire blade length" per the RainX website. These beam wiper blades are twice as much as the Valeo blades listed above (18 inch) but you do get longer life and performance that is slightly better. We have used the RainX windshield treatment and can vouch for it's usefulness, but we have yet to replace our current wiper blades with the RainX Latitude. From what we could find online in reviews posted to car forums, owners were happy with the results that the new RainX beam style blades provided during wet weather. You can see all the details online at http://www.rainx.com/products/wiper-blades/.
Silicone Wiper Blade:
In our research, we found that silicone wiper blades are found on many performance vehicles, especially sport cars sold in Europe. PIAA is a British company that produces the PIAA Super Silicone wiper blades ($18) and "they are ideal for normal road use as well as off-road and competition driving in mud, fog, rain, snow and foul weather conditions" per their website. They repel water better than regular rubber wiper blades and you should get a longer blade life, although in tests by Consumer Reports that wasn't the case. The idea behind a silicone wiper blade is that they are coated with a chemical that will get the water to bead up on the windshield and therefore you get better visibility and the wipers can do their job much easier.
The PIAA wiper blades made with silicone definitely get great ratings for the first 6 months of use but their performance falls off dramatically after that. You will find all the details on this product online (see www.piaa.co.uk/wipers/wipers.asp). You can browse the top selling PIAA silicone wiper blades online here.
Bosch Wiper Blade:
One of the more searched for terms associated with wiper blades was "Bosch Icon". We decided to look into this particular product line to see just what the hype is all about. It appears that the Bosch Icon Wiper Blades ($18) are the newer beam blade design which are backetless blades. They are designed to give more uniform pressure along the wiper blade making for better performance and a smoother wipe. Marketed as "all-season" wiper blades, the Bosch Icon doesn't show in independent tests that the blades last 20% longer as they are advertised. However, owners are happy with their performance and say the wipers work better than other brands when there is ice and snow on the windshield. They are also very quiet in their operation. Available online here.
More videos and resources are here on our Wiper Blade Resource Page.
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