When it comes to driving, safety is always paramount. While many drivers may overlook them, windshield wipers are one of the most important safety features of a car; especially drivers who live in locations where it doesn’t rain a lot. Windshield wipers do more than just keep the window clear when it rains; they also help to clean off the windshield when it is covered in dirt and other debris kicked up on the road, or when a fog rolls in.
In order to ensure your safety, the safety of your passengers and the safety of other people on the road, you definitely want to have a good pair of windshield wipers on your car. There are tons of wipers available though, so how do you know which ones to choose? To help you find the best windshield wipers, have a look at this hand guide.
Types of Windshield Wipers
There are several types of windshield wiper blades available, including:
- Bracket wiper blades
- Low-profile beam blades
- Hybrid blades
Bracket Wiper Blades
Bracket-style wiper blades use a metal frame to press the blade against the windshield at several different contact points. These are typically the least expensive wiper blades; however, because the metal framework is exposed, they can collect snow, ice and other debris, which can smear and streak across the windshield when they are used, thus rendering them ineffective. There are some bracket blades that have a special winterizing component, which consists of a big rubber piece placed over the metal framework to prevent the buildup of snow, ice and other debris.
Low-Profile Beam Wiper Blades
These windshield wiper blades feature a single curve piece of metal that is located within the blade, providing tension and contact with the windshield. Because they have a sleeker design, snow, ice and other debris can’t build up on them, which allows them to clean the windshield more effectively than bracket blades. They also tend to last longer than bracket blades because they spread the force evenly along the blade instead of at different contact points. Beam wiper blades are usually more expensive than bracket blades.
Hybrid Wiper Blades
Hybrid blades are constructed similarly to bracket blades, but they feature an outer shell, which gives them a lower profile and a more aerodynamic shape, which allows them to resist snow, ice and other debris, much like beam blades.
Windshield Wiper Blade Considerations
Before you start shopping for windshield wiper blades, there are important factors that you must take into consideration. Considering the following factors will help you find the best blades for your needs.
Knowing what size wiper blades you need for your car is critical. Just like each make and model of a car differs, so do the wiper blades that will fit them. You can check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out what size blades you need, or you can ask what size blades you need at an auto parts store. The last thing you want to do is buy wiper blades that are the wrong size.
The Original Blades
What type of wiper blades did your car originally come with? Many new cars are outfitted with beam-style wiper blades, which means that you may have to buy the same type of blades when replacing the original.
The connectors are the components that attach the wiper blades to the actual windshield wiper. Simple hook-style connectors are pretty easy to work with and you will likely be able to change out the wiper blades yourself; however, if the connectors are more complex and feature pins and latches, you may want to have your new placed replaced by your auto parts store, as this type of connector can be challenging to work with.
Traditionally, windshield wiper blades are made of rubber. For the most part, this material works really well and effectively whisks rain, snow, sleet and other dirt and debris from the windshield; however, you may want to consider silicone blades, especially if you live in a hot climate or if you do a lot of off-roading. Silicone blades tend to do a better job of standing up to heavy mud and dirt, and they can withstand high temperatures better than rubber. Do note, though, that silicone blades tend to be more expensive than traditional rubber wiper blades.
As previously mentioned, some windshield wiper blades can be popped on with ease; however, others involve a more complex process, which can be difficult for the average person to handle. If you want to install your blades yourself, make sure that they are easy to install. If you do need or want blades that are more complicated to install, save time and aggravation by asking your local auto store to install them for you.
Just like when you shop for anything else, you want to take the price into consideration when shopping for windshield wiper blades. Blades vary in price, so you want to make sure that you are purchasing a blade that you can afford.
Windshield Wiper Features
Believe it or not, windshield wiper blades actually offer a variety of features, and certain features may better suit your specific needs.
If the sound of windshield wipers screeching across your window drives you insane, then you should shop for blades that are designed to make less noise. Typically, the quietest blades are those that do not have metal frames. Not only are they more aerodynamic, which allows them to glide over the windshield with greater ease, but because they don’t have any metal, the automatically create less noise.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice, winter blades are an excellent option for you. These wiper blades are made of rubber that has been fire-treated, which makes them more resistant to tearing, which is more likely to happen when blades are exposed to very low temperatures and harsh conditions.
Heated blades are another great option for drivers who live in colder climates. These wiper blades feature heating elements inside the blades, which helps to thaw ice and snow, thus improving visibility.
Reversible Wiper Blades
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you might want to consider purchasing reversible wiper blades. These wiper blades are outfitted with flexible wiping blades on each side of the blade, so when you start to notice streaking, just pop out the J hook adapter, spin the blade 180 degrees, pop the J hook back in and voila! – You have new blades!
Rain Repellent Treated Blades
These wiper blades not only whisk moisture off of the windshield, but they also deliver a rain repellant to the windshield with every swipe they make. As a result, the moisture on the windshield will bead up and roll off, making your window clearer and easier to see out of between the swipes of the blades.
Best Windshield Wiper Brands
There are literally dozens of windshield wiper manufacturers, which can make finding the best wiper blades to meet your specific needs a challenge. We’ve examined ever manufacturer out there and we have determined that the following are the best of the best because they offer a wide variety of wiper blades that offer different features and have a reputation for being durable.
Bosh is hailed as a leader in automotive technology. This company makes a wide selection of windshield wiper blades that are sure to meet the needs of every drive. All of their blades are famous for being long lasting, especially their ICON blade, which lasts 40 percent longer than other blades of the same quality.
For more than 40 years, Rain-X has been creating products that simplify and improve the safety of driving. Their wiper blades feature rain repellent technology, which is applied directly onto the windshield with every swipe the blades make. As a result, water will bead up on the windshield, keeping the window more clear between wiper swipes.
This company boasts a Visibility Systems group, which only focuses on the designing efficient windshield wiper blades. Valeo wiper blades are highly regarded for lasting a long time, for being extremely durable, and for being very easy to install.
PIAA has perfected the art of making windshield wiper blades. This company is highly regarded for their Patented silicone blades, which resist wear and tear from extreme temperatures and UV exposure, allowing them to last up to 2 times longer than other premium wiper blades.