Windshield wipers tend to be overlooked by even the most attentive car owners. Tires, motor oil, and even car air fresheners are typically never left out when talking auto parts and accessories. So why do we seem to forget about how important and crucial for safe driving wiper blades are?
In the United States alone, an average of 556,151 accidents happen every year because of rain. That’s not even taking into account how many crashes are caused by snow, sleet, and hail! We will never know how many of those crashes could be avoided by using the best windshield wipers on the market. But we can guess quite a few!
Tired and old wiper blades don’t help safe driving. In fact, they make driving in the rain even more dangerous than it already is. If the rubber is worn out, your windshield will still be covered in water. Worse than that, it can leave streaks that make it almost impossible to see the road in front of you clearly.
Knowing all this, you’ll probably want to invest in a brand-new set of windshield wiper arms. In this article, we’ll explain to you all there is to know about this life-saving auto part. We’ll give you tips on how to find the best windshield wipers for your car and even highlight the best wiper blades on the market right now.
At the end of this buying guide and review piece, you’ll find ways to install a new pair of blades, as well as what to do about your old ones. Moreover, you’ll find a list of more than 10 frequently asked questions about wipers for windshields answered!
How Do Windshield Wipers Work?
Let’s get down to basics and learn how these auto parts really work inside a vehicle.
Nowadays, all wipers are powered by an electric motor. There is a linkage that converts the rotational motion of the motor into the back-and-forth movement of the wipers.
Then, attached to the wiper frame, you have the blades. Their job is to get whatever if blocking your windshield out of there. They can be made from different materials, and this influences their price. We’ll get back to that in a moment.
You may have also notice that, in different cars, you’ll find that the wipers move in different ways. This is because car manufacturers choose what pivot point design they desire. Essentially, there are four pivot designs, which are pictured below.
Near the steering wheel, usually on the left-hand side, you can find the wiper controls. The stalk (or lever) allows you to control the wipers’ movement. If it’s pouring outside, you’ll want quick wiper blade movements. If it’s raining just a little, the occasional wipe will do the trick. As the driver, you’re given full control.
Lastly, some wiper blades have rain sensors. When the wiping blades feel the vibrations caused by raindrops, they are triggered. Thus, as soon as it starts to rain, the wiper mechanism will start working, cleaning your windshield hassle-free.
As a quick note, don’t forget that every car has two separate sets of wipers: a rear wiper and a windshield one!
How Long Do Windshield Wipers Last?
This is an important question to ask. After all, you need to know how often to replace the windscreen wipers.
On average, they last between six months and one year. Some models have a longer lifespan, while others have a longer one.
As a rule of thumb, when you see the blades no longer making full contact with the windshield or hear them squeaking, it’s time to replace them.
What Are They Made Of?
Usually, the frame of a wiper is made of aluminum, as it is a lightweight metal.
The parts that convert the motor power and the and the pivot are made of galvanized steel (or zinc-covered steel, to shelter it from erosion).
The blades are, more often than not, made from some kind of rubber. Some manufacturers only use natural rubber, while others opt for synthetic compounds. How hard the rubber is changes from maker to maker.
What Vehicles Have Wipers for the Windshield?
Cars, trucks, semis, and even motorcycles all have wipers on their windshields. But they’re not all the same. You can’t use semi truck wipers on a motorcycle, for example.
Throughout this article, we’ll only talk about and look at wipers for cars. However, the logic of how to install them and why they’re important is pretty much the same regardless of what vehicle you have.
Are Windshield Wipers Required By Law?
Wipers for the windshield are not a car accessory: they’re a crucial auto part that contributes to driving safety. After all, they improve your visibility on the road.
On top of that, in the United States, state laws make windshield wipers mandatory on all cars. So you’re definitely not getting away with having faulty wipers!
Can Windshield Wipers Fail Inspection?
Yes, they can! The point of putting your car through inspection is to make sure it is safe to be on the road. If your wipers are badly damaged and can’t clear the windshield efficiently, your car will most likely fail inspection.
Every state has its own inspection procedures and laws. Some allow the blades to be somewhat worn out as long as the ridges in the silicone aren’t larger than a set measurement. Others state that the blades must be in pristine conditions.
It’s all a matter of using common sense and checking your local DMV’s inspection laws.
Are Windshield Wipers Universal?
No, there are dozens of different wiper sizes out there, precisely because each car model requires a different design.
Never forget this! The golden rule of shopping for wipers is to always check your car’s wiper blade compatibility. Otherwise, you risk spending money on a worthless product.
TIP: Amazon makes the process of checking car-wiper compatibility a stroll through the park. When you’re on a product page, enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle on the top bar. Amazon will, on its own, check if the product is suited for your needs.
Windscreen Wiper Blades Buying Guide
You may have asked yourself: “Are windshield wipers all the same?” We’re here to tell you that no: they are made differently and for different cars. Thus, it’s crucial that you understand the differences between wiper blades. That is unless you want to spend money on an auto part that doesn’t fit your vehicle!
Types of Wiper Blades
There are, essentially, three types of wiper blades. Each has their pros and their cons, so it’s really up to you which ones you want to add to your car.
Conventional Wiper Blade: These are the cheapest and most readily available wipers on the market. They use halogen-hardened rubber or rubber squeegees. Unfortunately, they are not incredibly durable, especially under snowy and icy conditions. Thus, they must be replaced more often.
Hybrid Wiper Blade: This type of wiper blade has become more popular in recent years. Structurally, it is built similarly to the conventional wipers. But the twist is that they have an outer shell for more protection. It makes them good to use in snowy and icy days, more durable, and more aerodynamic. Their downside is that they’re more expensive than conventional blades.
Beam Wiper Blade: By far the most sophisticated and expensive wipers are the beam-style ones. They are made with a one-piece design in mind and are also the sturdiest and longest-lasting wipers on the market. For extreme weather conditions, they are the ones performing best.
Wiper Blade Size and Fit
It’s crucial to know what blades fit your vehicle. Ask yourself “What size windscreen wipers do I need” before spending time and money in the search for the best wipers for your windshield.
When you check with the manufacturer what size blades you need, you’ll get an exact fit — and better-performing wipers.
Wipers usually come in one of two designs when it comes to installation style: straight wiper arm or hooked wiper arm. Some products are universal and come with adaptors for both attachment styles. Nonetheless, it never hurts to check.
Durability and Sturdiness
You’ll need to look for wipers that are durable and sturdy enough to withstand the weather. This will depend on where you live.
For example, someone living in Southern California doesn’t need blades strong enough to clear off snow and ice from the windshield. Meanwhile, someone living in the Midwest during the winter will most certainly require heavy-duty wiper blades that can easily handle sleet and ice.
Typically, the sturdier the wipers, the more expensive is the product. But don’t be tempted to buy a cheaper alternative, unless you want to keep changing wipers several times throughout the winter.
This ties well together with our previous point. You need to find wipers made from strong blade material if you want them to last you through the winter.
Ease of Installation
If you’re not an expert mechanic, stick to wipers that come with easy, straightforward instructions and a complete DIY installation kit. It will make your job a lot easier!
Cost and Refills
Of course, the cost of the wipers is always something to consider. You’ll find blades costing upwards of $60 and others marked at less than $15. It’s all a matter of setting your budget knowing how much they will last you.
7 Best Windshield Wipers Reviewed (Updated for 2020)
It’s time to look at the best products in the market. Let’s see what special features they have and how they all compare.
How We Chose These Products
Every time we write these “article and buying guide” articles, we make sure to do thorough research beforehand. Hours and hours of research are behind every article you read here on Auto Wise. But what steps do we follow?
- Research the product’s uses, advantages, and downsides
- Look at dozens of products on Amazon
- Read up on the products’ specs
- Study hundreds of customer reviews
- Research Amazon’s Choice program
- Peruse several guides written by authority websites