- Confused about all the different materials that windshield wiper blades are made of? – need some windshield wiper reviews you can trust?
- Is Graphite coated rubber better than Silicone? – and how about natural rubber?
- Don’t know if Framed of Bracketless blades are the best design for you?
- Wondering if you should switch to winter blades when the season comes or if you’re better off sticking with an all-season blade?
- Do you know how often you should change your windshield wipers? – is it every 6 months, each year, or something completely different?
- And what about price? – is a wiperblade that’s twice as expensive automatically twice as good?
- Also, do you know which windshield wiper blades that you should stay clear off? – and which blades are always a good buy? – and do you know where to find a good bargain online.
- And hey, did you know that there is a multitude of different types of attachment-systems? – Pick the wrong one for your car and your newly acquired wiperblade will be useless.
- And how about blade spoilers – are they really effective in getting more downforce on the blade so it hugs your windshield even better – or are they only for show?
Well, I was in the exact same situation some time ago when I was looking for replacement blades for my car.
This windshield wiper blade guide is the guide I wish had been available when I went online looking for some new blades.
It’s the condensed version of all the background material I researched before finally deciding which blades to get.
You can say that it’s the collaborative work of windshield wiper manufacturers, general consumer reviews as well as “expert” advice gathered from numerous car geek forums (and these auto afficionados really are experts that leave little to nothing to chance when it comes to accesorizing their rides)
I truely hope you’ll find it useful.
Windshield Wiper Designs
There are essentially two different types of windshield wiper designs in use – Steel Frames and Bracketless. And then there’s the hybrid between the two.
Stell Frames is the “old” design that’s made of a series of suspended steel arcs that apply pressure to the blade itself in various spots along the lenght of the blade.
The downside to the steel frame blades is that they only apply pressure on certain parts of the blade and sometimes that leads to streaking.
Another downside is that they collect sleet, snow and ice, so you’ll probably need a pair of special winter blades to use during winter.
Bracketless – or beam – windshield wiper blades are made of one single arched piece of steel which is attached to the full length of the blade.
Force is applied at one single point in the middle of the arc where the blade attach to the wiperarm.
The upside of these is that sleet, snow and ice can’t build up on the moving parts and make the blade useless during winter.
The downside is that on some cars with curved windshield they can leave parts of the windshield alone. Usually this is in the lower righthand corner of the windshield.
The best of two worlds.
Pressure is applied to the blade at multiple points instead of just one single point just like a traditional steel frame blade. But the blade-design is similar to the bracketless blade, so the pressure is evened out in the full length of the blade.
Attaching a wiper blade to a wiper blade arm should be really simple…right?
Unfortunately there’s a large number of different attachment-systems.
And to make matters worse; the same type of attachment is known by multiple names.
This is a selection of the different names I’ve been able pick up.
- Hook – J-hook
- 9 x 4 hook – 3/4″
- 9 x 3 hook – 1/2″
- Pin – Side Pin
- 1/4″ Pin – Large Pin
- 3/16″ Pin – Small Pin
- Side lock – Pin and Hook (P&H)
- Top lock
- Top Lock Gen 1
- Top Lock Gen 2
- Pinch Tab – PTB (Pinch Tab Button)
- Push Button
And for rear windshield attachments:
- Roc Loc 2
- Roc Loc 3
- Slide Pinch
- Snap Claw
Making separate wiperblades for every type of wiper arm connector is obviously expensive, which is why wipers are usually shipped with different types of adapters such as:
- Universal quick-lock adapter
- KwikConnect Installation System
- SWIFT easy connection adapter
- EZSNAP Multiple Connector System
Some blades have been designed with a built-in spoiler.
The idea behind the spoiler is to create additional downforce on the blade to make the blade hug the windshield better.
Unfortunately is seems to go both way because sometimes the spoiler acts like a wing and lifts the wiperblade from the windshield.
Windshield curvature, speed and wiper arm tension all have a say in this.
Any windshield wiper manufacturer will tell you that their latest and greatest blade is using cutting-edge technology made up of this and that compound and claim that they are the best in the world.
But what are the blades actually made of?
Windshield wiper materials
Blades were originally made from natural rubber, but manufacturers have begun using other materials
Rubber blades are sometimes described as dual-rubber blades. What this means is that the part of the blade that is attached to the frame is made flexible – and the part of the blade that is touching your windshield is made more sturdy and rigid.
Rubber unfortunately gets brittle and hardened from the wear and tear of UV radiation from sun, Ozone, rain, snow, salt, dust, mud as well as other pollutants. Not really a good property of a material that is constantly exposed.
So manufacturers began using Silicone because it was more resistant to environmental impact.
Silicone also leaves a smal trace of silicone oil on your windshield (much like a windshield treatment does) which makes water bead up and makes it easier to see through and wipe away.
Silicone blades are reported to last very long compared to traditional rubber-based blades.
Sometimes you’ll see Graphite-coated or Teflon-coated. These are blades where the tip of the blade, the part that is actually touching your windshield, has been coated to make the blade glide more easily.
Winter vs All-Season?
Winter blades and all-season blades differ in either design, materials used – or both.
The design differences is made to prevent sleet, snow and ice from sticking to the blade and making it a lumpy stick of ice.
The difference in materials has to do with the elasticity of the material under different temperature conditions.
Winter conditions just are different than summer conditions, and they usually require different blades compared to summer time.
Some winter blades differ in design by covering the entire lenght of the steel frame with a protective cover.
The cover prevents sleet, snow and ice from building up and blocking all the moving parts.
This doesn’t apply to bracketless blades which by design don’t have any moving parts that can get clogged by ice.
A winter blade will also usually be made of a softer rubber compound to prevent it from becoming too stiff to hug your windshield.
All-season blades are just that – all season blades – nothing special about the materials used or the design. They are just good allround wiperblades.
If your winterseason is long, perhaps even all-year long, then I definitely recommend winter blades, but if you only have a few days with cold and snowy conditions, then you should do just fine with regular all-season blades.
How often should you change your wiperblades?
Well, I think Michelin states it very well in their FAQ:
“Experts say every six to twelve months – but it is dependent on enviromental conditions and use.”
Driving your car a few miles a few days a week in a mild, temperate, pollution- and dust-free part of the world will obviously put less strain on your blades compared to drives long stretches 7 days a week in a harsh climate.
Wear and tear
There’s basically 3 different ways to determine if your blade needs to be replaced.
- Sound: Squeaky noises as your blade moves across your windshield is a good indicator of an old and worn blades that needs to be replaced.
- Visual: Does your blade leave behind un-wiped streaks or is it just generally smearing the water across the windshield instead of wiping it away?
- Inspection: Inspect your blades – do they look or feel worn?
High price = high performance & longevity?
Well, not really – not always at least.
Going through a lot of consumer reviews there’s one thing that is very clear; It’s all over the map.
- Cheap blades are praised as being best buy ever – the same goes for expensive blades
- Premium blade are praised for their longevity – but so are the cheaper blades
- The cheapest blades gets scorned – but expensive blades are also labelled “garbage”
In reality, price doesn’t really matter that much. A single wiperblade will rarely set you back more than $25. And with the cheapest blades going for around $10 there is no significant difference.
Top 3 recommended blades
The thing about a recommending a “best” wiper blade is that it’s depending on a lot of different factors.
Windshield curvature and weather condition has a lot of impact on how well it works and how long a wiper blade lasts.
Maybe the blade with the highest rating doesn’t hug your windshield well enough or the environmental impact where you live might have you choose a different blade.
Anyway, here are the 3 blades with the highest number of good reviews that I’ve been able to find: