Windshield wipers tend to be overlooked by even the most attentive car owners. Tires, motor oil, and even car air fresheners are typically top-of-mind products drivers will spend extra money to upgrade. So why do we forget about how important and crucial for safe driving wiper blades are?
In the United States alone, an average of 556,151 accidents occurs in rain. That’s not even taking into account how many crashes are caused by snow, sleet, and hail. Though the statistics can’t say how many of those crashes could be avoided by using the best windshield wipers on the market, we can guess it would be quite a few.
Tired and old wiper blades can inhibit safe driving. In fact, they make driving in the rain even more dangerous than it already is. If the rubber on your wiper blades is worn out, it will not effectively clear your windshield. Worn out wipers can also leave streaks that make it almost impossible to see out your windshield.
Knowing all this, you’ll want to invest in a brand-new set of windshield wipers. In this article, we run through all there is to know about this essential auto part. We’ll give you tips on how to find the best windshield wipers for your car and highlight the best wiper blades on the market right now.
How do Windshield Wipers Work?
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.
The wiper blades attach to the wiper frame. The blade functions to clear the windshield. 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 have full control.
Lastly, most modern vehicles have rain sensors. Usually, this is an IR sensor mounted on the dash, which sends out a beam of infrared light the reflects back differently when raindrops are present on the windshield, triggering the automatic wipers.
As a quick note, don’t forget that some vehicles have two separate sets of wipers: a rear wiper and a windshield wiper.
Types of Wiper Blades
There are three main types of wiper blades. Each has pros and cons, so it’s really up to personal preference on which type you want to install on 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. This makes them good to use in snowy and icy conditions as they are more durable and aerodynamic. The downside is that they’re more expensive than conventional blades.
Beam Wiper Blade: By far the most sophisticated and expensive style of wipers are beam wiper blades. These one-piece blades are the sturdiest and longest-lasting wipers on the market. For extreme weather conditions, they are the ones that will perform the best.
Features to Consider When Purchasing Windshield Wipers
Wiper Blade Size
It’s crucial to know what blades fit your vehicle. Be sure to future out what size wipers you need before spending time and money in the search for the best wipers for your windshield. You’ll want to get an exact fit for 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.
Durability and Sturdiness
You’ll need to look for wipers that are durable and sturdy enough to withstand the weather. How durable of a wiper blade you need will largely depend on where you live.
For example, drivers in Southern California don’t need blades to clear off snow and ice from their windshield. Meanwhile, someone living in the Midwest will most certainly require heavy-duty wiper blades that can easily handle sleet and ice for the winter.
Typically, the sturdier the wipers, the more expensive the product. Don’t be tempted to buy a cheaper alternative, unless you want to keep changing wipers several times throughout the winter.
Usually, the frame of a wiper is made of aluminum, as it is a lightweight metal. 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 will vary by manufacturer. Again, you will want a durable blade to hold up to the driving conditions.
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. This will make your job a lot easier!
Cost And Refills
Of course, the cost of the wipers is always something to consider. You can find blades costing upwards of $60 and others selling for less than $15. Remember that there will probably be some trade-off between cost and durability. Depending on your budget, it may be worth spending a bit more to get a more durable blade that will last longer.
The Best Windscreen Wiper Blades On The Market
Now that you know what features to look for and have researched what size windshield wiper will fit your vehicle, it’s time to go shopping!