It’s very easy to overlook windshield wipers…until yours need replacing and you’re in the middle of a rain storm, then you’ll definitely notice them. During a bad rainstorm or snowstorm is not when you want to discover that your windshield wipers are useless. Having low visibility because the wipers aren’t clearing the windshield off poses a real danger to the driver, his or her passengers, and anyone driving close to them.
All it takes is a little awareness and planning to make sure that you are never caught in a rainstorm with windshield wipers that don’t help at all. The simplest way to check your windshield wipers is to test them when the weather is fine.
Make sure you have some window cleaner or water in your windshield wiper reservoir and turn it on, spraying water/solution onto the windshield. Turn your wipers on and see how well they clean off the water and solution. If they don’t do a good job to get that cleaned off, they won’t work well in a rainstorm or snowstorm either and need to be changed.
Best Windshield Wipers
|Bosch 22B ICON||9.6|
|Bosch 24A ICON||8.8|
|Michelin Stealth Ultra||9.6|
|Bosch Clear Advantage||5|
|Michelin Stealth Hybrid||9.9|
There are several different types of windshield wipers on the market. Understanding the different kinds available can make deciding which ones to get much easier.
- Rubber Blades – These traditional wiper blades are made with rubber which is very inexpensive for the manufacturer’s to make. Rubber blades are not very expensive at all, so keeping them in great shape is not a costly endeavor. In a rubber bladed wiper, the rubber is very flexible and attaches to the steel frame of the blade.
They are very good at keeping the windshield clear. The major drawback to rubber is that it doesn’t last long and will dry out and crack usually within one season. You can expect to have to replace rubber windshield wiper blades every 6 months or less.
- Silicone Blades – This type of windshield wiper blade is relatively new to the wiper blade scene and they are much stronger and more durable during harsh weather like extreme rain, snow and heat. They have the same kind of flexibility as rubber blades and have the same design as well.
Silicone wiper blades also leave a tiny bit of oil on the windshield which makes rain bead up and roll off. Silicone blades last longer than their rubber counterparts and they cost more as well, but the cost is usually offset by the extended life of the blade.
- Coated Blades – Coated windshield wiper blades are for high performance situations. They are made of enhanced rubber that is coated with Graphite or Teflon. These coated blades last longer than traditional rubber and gives the windshield a much cleaner surface when they are used.
Framed, Bracketless and Hybrid Blades
- Hybrid – A hybrid is a combination of both framed and bracketless blades. This type of design is good for providing even pressure along the whole length of the wiper blade. This results in a cleaner windshield and consistent strokes that do their job.
- Bracketless – These wiper blades are different in design than the traditional framed blades. The big advantage that drivers will notice when using bracketless blades is that the ice and snow won’t build up on the blade which makes it much more efficient in cold climates. There are no moving parts with a bracketless blade either which makes it less susceptible to freezing up.
- Framed – These blades have a steel frame they are attached to and are the standard that most windshield wipers are made in. All along the blade length there is pressure that is placed to provide a tight seal against the windshield and give the driver a clean view even in rainy, stormy weather. One common problem with framed blades is that they don’t provide uniform pressure along the blade’s arc so when you use them it can create streaks and spots where the rain isn’t cleared.
Replacing Your Blades
When you replace your windshield wipers you will need to make sure that you get the right blades for your specific vehicle. There will be as a certain type of blade for each individual vehicle due to the size of the windshield. All stores have a guide onsite to help you choose the right size. All you will need to do is look up the make and model of your vehicle and the guide will give you the right size.
Always change both blades at the same time, even if only one is showing wear. This keeps the windshield wiper blades working the same and on the same change schedule. Only changing one at a time can get confusing and you may find that you’re changing one or the other all the time. Your back window wiper blade will also need to be changed, if your vehicle has one, so don’t forget this one as well.
Installing the Wiper Blades Properly
Almost all aftermarket windshield wiper blades will have an adapter that can be used to install them properly on a new vehicle. Most windshield wipers have three different attachment types:
- J Hook (comes large and small)
- Large and small pins
- Side Locks (aka pin and hook)
- Top Lock
Kinds of Adapters
If you do need an adapter, there are many different adapter systems on the market. Included in these adapter systems are:
- KwikConnect Systems
- Universal Quick Lock
- Swift Adapter
- EZSNAP Connectors
- Quick Clip Adapter
Taking Care of Your Blades
Just like with any product or tool, if you take care of it, it will perform better and last a lot longer than if you just leave them to their own devices. The care and maintenance of your windshield wiper blades is very simple.
It starts with washing them off whenever you wash your vehicle. Lift the blades up and wipe them down with a soft rag to remove all the dirt and grime that accumulates on them from cleaning your windshield. Also wipe the blades off whenever you wash your windshield as well. It just takes a few seconds to do and it makes a big difference.
When winter comes and your windshield is covered with snow and/or ice, don’t use the windshield wipers to clean the window. The weight of the snow and being frozen can tear and crack your blades. Instead use an ice scraper which is what they are designed for. Once the window has been cleared completely, it is safe to run the wipers.
How Often Should You Replace Your Wiper Blades
There are a few different ways that a vehicle owner can tell when the blades need to be replaced. None of these ways are difficult to discern and there is not special knowledge or equipment that is required to see if you need a new set.
- The wipers squeak, scrape or scratch the glass when they are turned on
- They leave streaks. Streaks are caused by the dry rubber that may have cracked and hardened and also can be caused by foreign substances that are on the blade from the road. This is why wiping the blade off can help extend the life of the blades.
- They look worn. You will notice that the blade starts to round along the wiping edge and in some cases pieces of the blade will separate and cause “flappers” when the wipers are turned on, that do no good at all.
- They “Chatter”. This is a stuttering motion that happens when the blade needs to be replaced and is caused by worn spots.
In general a brand new set of windshield wiper blades will last about 6 months. If you have purchased a high performance set of blades, you can sometimes get as long as a year or more out of them and if you have chosen a lesser quality set, you may have to change them sooner than 6 months. The length of time the blade lasts will depend on many different things including:
- Climate. The weather in your region will definitely have an impact on how long your blades will last. If you live in extreme hot or extreme cold areas, this will take a toll on the blades and require that they be replaced more often.
- Road Conditions – Driving on well maintained roads will wear on your wipers and your vehicle because you won’t need to use them as much as you would if you are driving on dirt roads. Off roading is extremely hard on wiper blades and can definitely result in faster wear and tear.
- How often they are used – How often you are using your wiper blades will determine how long the wiper blades last. Snow, ice and mud are very hard on wiper blades so if you live in a climate that has heavy snows, you will have to replace the blades more often than if you live in a milder climate.
- Bent Wiper Frame – There are several things that can cause the windshield wiper frame to become bent including vandalism, ice, heavy snow, improper changing and automatic car washes. If the frame is bent, the entire piece will have to be replaced but this is not usually an expensive repair and is better than using a bent wiper that can scratch or damage the windshield.
Just because a set of windshield wiper blades cost more, that doesn’t mean they are high quality. In general though, a more expensive blade will have certain features that help them last longer.
They are not an expensive part to replace and the benefits of having a good quality blade is well worth the cost, especially when you are driving in rain or snow.
Considerations before Purchasing
Size of the Windshield – Each vehicle will have its own specific size blade that it needs. While some makes and models of vehicles may have similar blade needs, you can’t get a blade made for a Jeep and use it on a truck in most cases.
The size of your windshield is the biggest determining factor in how long your wiper blades need to be. On vehicles with larger windshields, the blades will be much longer than they would for something small like a Beetle or Mazda.
The driver’s side wiper blade and the passenger side wiper blade are typically different lengths. This design allows the blades to work together without becoming tangled with one another. If you do have a rear window wiper, that will be much smaller in size than your windshield wipers.
- What is Your Current Wiper Blade? – Take a look at the existing windshield wiper blades on your vehicle. What type of blade is it? What kind of attachment does it require? Does it need a different adapter for the blades you want to use? The most common type of adapter will be the hook style and they are probably the easiest to install as well.
- Do Wiper Blades have Warranties? Windshield wiper blades don’t usually come with a warranty which makes it even more important to choose a good quality manufacturer and purchase the best quality wiper blades you can for the money you can spend. It is important to note that all wiper blades, regardless of the brand, will eventually need to be replaced.
Having a good set of quality windshield wiper blades is very important for the safety of you, your passengers, anyone who drives the vehicle and even those driving around you. When you vision is impaired by not having good windshield clearing capability, you can cause an accident very easily.
You may not being able to see a stopped car in front of you, an animal or child running across the street or any other number of situations you encounter regularly when you drive. If you can’t see clearly, you’re not safe.
Replacing your windshield wiper blades is not difficult or costly, so there is never any reason to have substandard, poor performing wiper blades on your vehicle. By making sure that you take care of the blades once they are on your vehicle and replacing them as soon as they show wear and tear, you are not only keeping yourself and your passengers safe, you are keeping the other drivers on the road around you safe too.
Never wait until they are performing poorly or falling off before you replace them. This would cause you to drive unsafely should you end up in a rain storm or other bad weather. When you replace your blades, mark it on the calendar and then inspect them once a month to ensure that they are in good shape. When you inspect them, wipe them off with a damp rag to remove residue, dirt, grime and oil and make that part of the inspection process. You can expect the new blades to last about 4-6 months.
By taking these few minutes and extra precautions you will never be caught in a rainstorm with horrible windshield wiper blades again.