By on January 29, 2019

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Wiper blades are the Rodney Dangerfield of automotive parts. Completely ignored and routinely forgotten, they’re a rarely thought of component … until they wear out. Then, they’re generally the subject of foul language and rude epithets as they give up the ghost and are reduced to tattered strips of rubber that only serve to smear bugs across the windshield.

Ignored in good condition; cursed when worn out. No respect indeed.

We’ve taken a look at this dusty corner of the automotive parts closet and assembled a few recommendations, listed below. For simplicity, 20-inch blades are linked here, as they are a very common size. Now, go check the wipers on your own car before they wear out.

(Editor’s note: As noted above, this post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)


Editor’s Pick: Michelin Stealth Ultra

Michelin knows a thing or two about rubber (place infantile joke here), so it is not wholly unreasonable they got into the wiper game. These are the same blades your author put on his trusty Dodge Charger two years ago and promptly forgot about. This is a blade with hinge joints, not the frameless type, a feature which – in this person’s experience – provides more force on the blade for better contact on the car’s windshield. This gives a better sweep.

Unlike el-cheapo blades, the hinge system is covered, which keeps out debris and random bits of Skoal fired out the window of that brodozer who’s hogging the left lane. Allegedly, independent tests showed the thing was still serviceable after 300,000 wipe cycles, an industry-leading performance (kids: make sure to ask your school’s guidance counselor about a future in the field of windshield wiper testing).

Pros: EZ-Lok connector fits all major models except the GAZ M21 Volga, frame system keeps the sucker pinned to your windshield, trusted brand name.

Cons: Slightly more expensive than bargain brands

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Anco 31-Series

Anco has been making wiper blades since approximately the dawn of the automobile. If you’ve ever spent time loitering in the waiting room of a dimly-lit service center, there is an excellent chance there was a battered Anco stand in view.

Reliably the cheapest option, Anco blades are a decent pick if you’re in a pinch or ‘reconditioning’ a car for resale. This brand’s version of one-connector-fits-all is dubbed the KwikConnect, so it should fit most rigs with ease. This is a framed blade, meaning it will press down on your windshield in all the right places, at least straight out of the box. Its frame system does not have any sort of shielding, meaning it could get gummed up with road debris or snow. Some online reviews report the frame assembly falling apart quickly.

Pros: Cheap as dirt, memories of the past

Cons: Unshielded frame, reports of poor quality assembly

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Best of the Rest: Rain-X Latitude 2-in-1

If you simply must have a frameless wiper, you’d be hard pressed to do better than these Rain-X units. This particular model in the Rain-X lineup bakes a level of its own water repellent right into the blade, meaning your windshield gets a coating of Rain-X during the initial few sweeps. The properties of Rain-X allow water to bead and quickly sheet off a car’s windshield at speed, negating the need to frequently hit the wiper stalk. It could be argued this feature will lead to a long wiper life since one doesn’t need to turn them on as often. The Rain-X repellent is supposed to last for several months.

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: Top 8 Best LED Headlights for Your Car

Rain-X says its advanced beam-blade technology contours to the curvature of the windshield for a smooth, virtually streak-free wipe. Proponents of frameless wipers say that by removing the frame and its hinges, there are no pressure points that can lead to a deformed wiper that does not sweep properly. It must be said that this type of wiper, absent of any frame, is essentially a big squeegee. The company’s patented universal adapter makes for easy installation.

It is important to note that the first sweep of these wipers should be in the dry, as that is the best condition in which to apply the Rain-X solution. It’ll still work if you install these in the middle of a hurricane but it will take longer to activate.

Pros: Free Rain-X application, huge array of sizes, Rain-X last for months

Cons: Marginally more expensive than average, unsightly connector

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Budget Choice: Trico Exact Fit

Operating on the complete opposite of the spectrum as the Rain-X blade is this basic unit from Trico. Offering OE quality and fit, these wipers will make your car look as if it just rolled out of the factory. Well, the wiper blade part of it, anyway. These framed wipers are the cheapest ones available from the Trico brand and are available in loads of sizes – in fact, Trico claims no other wiper manufacturer makes windshield wipers to fit more vehicles than they do.

Trico takes the extra step of pre-assembling the wiper blade and receptor so the connector matches the car’s specific style of wiper arm. The company has their own R&D center with over 70 engineers located in Rochester Hills, Michigan, partially explaining why Trico-looking units seem to appear on many vehicles that roll out of Detroit factories. There is something to be said for a company whose focus is solely on one product, rather an on an array of items.

Pros: OE look, pre-assembled connectors, cheap as dirt

Cons: No shield for the metal frame

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Bosch ICON

The industrial behemoth that is Bosch also makes consumer-grade wiper blades. This frameless wiper is of a beam design, however, its Bosch-exclusive tension spring addresses the contact problems befalling frameless blades from a few other manufacturers. A spoiler mounted atop the wiper arm connector is intended to press the wiper to windshield at naughty speeds.

Bosch goes so far as to manufacture the same length wiper blade with two different amounts of curve in them (called A and B blades) to account for the vastly varied shape of many different windshields. This predictably leads to some buyers selecting the wrong one and then complaining the wipers don’t sweep well. In this case, it is not the product’s fault.

However, along with a high price come high expectations. A raft of Internet commenters complain of fitment issues, particularly on cars whose parked wipers rest below the hoodline.

Pros: Excellent sweep, a frameless system that actually works, natty spoiler

Cons: Very costly compared to others, tall connector and spoiler may be troublesome

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PIAA Super Silicone Blades

Betcha thought PIAA only made auxiliary lights capable of illuminating the dark side of the moon, right? Yeah, me too. As it happens, the company has dipped a tentative toe into the wiper blade market. As with their lights, PIAA’s wipers are made of quality materials. Also, like the lights, they’re very expensive.

PIAA windshield wiper blades are made with silicone rubber, a material which allegedly gives greater visibility by coating the windshield with silicone during each sweep. Silicone promotes continuous water beading in inclement weather, not unlike the Rain-X trick. PIAA says the advantage of silicone is that, compared to windshield coatings, the chance of a hazy film forming is much less. Water beads up into droplets at low speeds that are easily removed by ordinary wiping. At higher speeds, wind pressure pushes the water off the windshield, often without even requiring wiper use. Like the Rain-X argument, this contributes to a longer blade life.

The company also claims its silicone rubber to be twice as durable as traditional rubber, allowing the wipers to perform better over a longer period of time. PIAA Super Silicone blades are traditional-style framed wipers.

Pros: Silicone technology beads water, durable rubber pushes it away

Cons: Eye-wateringly expensive

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Anco 30-20 Winter Wipers

Given the amount of cold and misery falling from the sky outside your author’s window, we would be remiss not to mention the existence of winter wiper blades. These units are remarkably similar in construction to the retro Ancos listed earlier in this post but the wiper’s framework is covered in a sheath of protective rubber. This extra feature prevents the flexible frame joints from freezing up in slushy cold weather.

The same features as the previous Anco apply here to the winter blade: KwikConnect technology, framed construction, and nearly 1/5th of the reviews are one star. An extra thick DuraKlear natural rubber wiping edge is said to remain flexible in cold temperatures.

Pros: Rugged rubber sheath helps prevent winter freeze ups, low price

Cons: Ugly as sin, reports of dodgy quality

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Aero All-Season Beam Blades

 

This company appears to be one of the few who sells a pair of blades, rather than just a single unit. Also, you probably have never heard of them, since they spend exactly zero dollars on advertising. It does, however, allow them to sell their wares at a slightly lower price than other companies. These blades are of the beam variety with no frame; again, think giant squeegee.

Consumer reviews are all over the map but do lean towards the positive end of the spectrum. Complaints center on quality issues, with a few people taking note of the company’s website which can be best described as a grammar and spelling horror show. Aero claims their wiper blades have an aerodynamic design to reduce drag and wind noise. It is important to check for fitment before ordering as these blades only have a J-hook fitment connector.

Pros: Affordably priced, slim design

Cons: Unknown name to most, J-hook connector only

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Things to Consider Before Buying Wiper Blades

Research

Before pulling the trigger on a new set of blades, make sure you’ve researched the correct sizes required for your car. Most vehicles have different sized wipers for the driver and passenger side, explaining why most companies sell blades individually. Look in the owner’s manual, ask at the parts store, or break out the measuring tape to ensure you’re buying the right size.

It is becoming more difficult to find replacement inserts where only the rubber is replaced into an existing frame. While these inserts can save money, installing them requires deft use of needle-nose pliers, a frustrating task whose grief simply isn’t worth the money savings. It’s often more convenient to replace the whole blade assembly, which is why we focused on those items in this post.

Consider the differences between conventional and beam wipers. Conventional wipers have the spring-tensioned frame assembly, a metal or plastic spline that supports the rubber blade. Unlike conventional wipers, beam blades have no external frames. Instead, they have spring steel incorporated into the rubber to press the works of it into the windshield for a full contact sweep.

Installation

While some drivers may be particular enough to actually plan their wiper replacement, leading to a comfortable experience in their garage on a nice summer’s day, it is more likely that the work will get done outdoors, often in the rain and darkness after a frustrated driver has reached the end of their rope with worn-out blades. This makes convenient removal and installation very important.

By far the most common mounting method found on the wiper arms of most cars is a J-hook, so called because it looks like, well, a letter J. Other types of connector mounts exist, so familiarize yourself with the one on your machine before starting installation. J-hooks are usually easy with which to work. The wiper arm is inserted through a slot in the center of the wiper body, then lined up with an adapter and slid into place. Some blades emit a confidence-inspiring “click” when they lock into their new home. Most wiper designs allow you to install and remove the blades without tools.

Common Sense and Caution

Take care when replacing wiper blades. Absent of their rain clearing companion, a bare wiper arm can snap down onto a windshield with surprising force, making expensive noises as it breaks the glass. Use care not to skewer your hands with the naked wiper arm, especially if you need to lean awkwardly over the car to reach the thing. If you’re unsure at all, most parts stores will install them for free.

[Image: admin_design/Shutterstock]

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37 Comments on “Buyers Guide: The 8 Best Windshield Wipers You Can Buy...”


  • avatar
    kkop

    How a buyer could pick the wrong Bosch blades, I don’t know: a simple lookup by the buyer or the auto parts store will return only one result per vehicle AFAIK.

    Anyway: have been using Bosch for years on multiple vehicles and am always impressed. Worth their price IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      +1 Just ask the sales clerk to pull up your model vehicle in the computer. No wrong blades. And agreed, of all the blades I’ve bought Bosch Icons have been well worth the extra cost.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I have a Subscribe & Save setup for the Bosch Aerotwin wipers on my 2014 Jetta. They’re reasonably priced (especially compared to the VW dealer) and they work well. Bosch is generally a good choice.

      For my C-Max, I found the Motorcraft wipers from the dealer actually work well and they fit correctly. I tried a set of Napa Curve wipers that I got cheap and the passenger side wiper flew off into the ditch because the GD adapter broke.

      Wipers are an important item and I’ve found you really get what you pay for with them.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The Bosch Icons are still probably the best blades, but the Chinese ones sold now have a way shorter lifespan to the blades made in Belgium previously. Those were king. I was able to get two years out of a set.

      Michelin blades are made by someone else. I forget who, but I think it’s either Trico or Anco. They are made in China and I see really no benefit compared to the blades branded as such.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I have had better luck with Trico than Anco regarding manufacturing quality. Both work well when new and have to be replaced more frequently than some of the more expensive brands. I have tried them all, and decided that “buy cheap and replace frequently” works best for me.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep, I buy Tricos and replace more frequently. As I recall they make a modern single-piece style blade as well, put some on my wife’s Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Ditto for me. I buy whatever is the cheapest at Wal-Mart, buy the set of two if different sizes, and keep a spare set of two in the trunk – right now all I have is a 1989 Camry V6.

        But I did the same for every other vehicle I ever had that was in daily use for us. For rear wipers I buy a number of them at once from RockAuto if Wal-Mart doesn’t carry them (and they rarely do).

        Here in NM the sun will destroy windshield wipers even if they are never used to wipe the windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Same here – Trico and at the first sign of streaking or chatter just swap ’em out. They generally survive about a year against the Florida sun / hurricane rain combo.

      I tired those Bosch Icons and the mounting system / connector puts the wipers arms up higher at an odd angle. They looked stupid and didn’t seem to perform any better. I like the slim, low profile style blades.

      I’ve heard good things about PIAA but not I have ever seen them in the local Pep Boys.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    If you’ve got a Honda, the best thing to do is never fit aftermarket blades. As long as you have the originals, you can get Honda inserts that are dirt cheap and last a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Did just that while I had my 2012 Civic. Something like $4 per insert, not very fiddly to install (although not quite as trivial as snapping in new blades)

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Those are the Denso wiper blades. The internet loves them, and I’m surprised they get no mention. You can also buy the inserts at Honda dealers for your other cars because they apparently come long enough for all sizes.

  • avatar
    MoparDave

    Mark me down as firmly in the PIAA corner. The additional cost is well worth it because (in my experience) the product is far more durable than other wipers on the market. Years ago, I got tired of Trico and Anco wiper assemblies either self-destructing a week after installation or barely making it to 6 months before needing replacement. (*also, I hate installing and dealing with windshield wiper replacement-I spent many years in retail auto parts changing out wipers for customers, getting drenched in rainstorms and lacerating my thumbs countless times). I prefer a product whose longevity is measured in years, rather than months.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I’m with Mopar Dave. I have PIAA Super Silicones on one car and a parade of Bosch and Anco on the other. The durability of the PIAA’s is spectacular. As he said, years instead of months.

    • 0 avatar
      salguod

      This. The PIAAs are probably double the cost of the average wiper but will last 3x-4x as long. So, actually cheaper in the long run.

      But even if they weren’t, the superior visibility due to the water beading would be worth the extra cost. Simply no comparison.

      I won’t buy anything else.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Better idea is to properly coat your windshield/windows (with something better than RainX). I love my coated windshield, rarely have to use wipers when moving as the water beads off nicely.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      O.K. ;

      What’s better than RAIN-X ? .

      I’m a dedicated RAIN-X user but the damn stuff sometimes fails in the middle of nowhere on a road trip…..

      I tried waxing my windshield and discovered it wasn’t a good idea .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah I’m a rain-X believer as well, although it certainly needs re-application every month or so if you’ve been using the wipers a decent amount. I’m all ears for other good products!

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          total Rain-X believer. To make it last longer, just get the windows really, really clean and put on two coats. Lasts for a year on the windshield, longer on other glass.

          Does not make the wipers work worse, as claimed below – makes them work better and you only have to use them half the time.

          Heard good things about Aquapel, but have never tried it.

          There is no comparison of wiper performance on a treated surface compared to bare glass. None.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Coatings might work by themselves, but cause the wipers to not work properly. Just get a good blade and leave the windshield clean.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Several of these are aftermarket garbage. You’d be lucky to get 6 months out of them. Anyone who buys a set that needs the ugly and clunky KwikConnect or equivalent style of universal fit carbuncle sticking up above the blade deserves that I suppose. Try Denso blades from RockAuto (and presumably elsewhere). Outstanding.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I waxed my windshield last year after winter and it seems to be holding up. Still on the original blades for a vehicle purchased in August of 2017. Not sure if that’s good, bad, or neutral considering I’ve had vehicles go through blades every 6-10 months.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    An in-depth, closely argued, impressively detailed advertorial. Thanks so much.

    BUY NOW

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I used to be a firm believer in the cheap Anco’s, and having to replace them every 6 months. Then I bought a new vehicle with beam blades and they lasted 18 months, and I’m a firm believer in them now. I just go to Walmart and buy the cheapest beam blade I can find. Even running them on my 22 year old daily driver, and very pleased. I think they may be Rain-x, but don’t really remember. Beam + lowest price is a winner for me.

  • avatar
    brn

    My care requires frameless, so many of the suggestions are not an option. Best blades I can get for my car are Motorcraft. Typically get 3-4 years out of them, including MN winters.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    Somewhat surprisingly to me, the best wiper blade I have used are Motorcraft ones I get from Rockauto. Cheap and the longest lasting of the ones I have used.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    HA! Funny this article appears just now, only a few days after this little story . . . .

    My Corolla had a pair of 2 month old “winter” blades with the thin rubber sheathing like the Anco 30-20 Winter Wipers look like they have. They were relatively expensive. Unfortunately the sheathing catches too much air at highway speeds and impeded the wiping action, leaving nasty mag chloride films here on the incessantly de-iced highways in the Colorado snow belt. . My Vitara had some fancy blades that look very much like the Aero All-Season Beam Blades. They chattered constantly at any speed, making any actual wiping a hit or miss occurrence.

    Just on a lark, and a bit of disgust, I went to Wal Mart and got the cheapest wipers on the rack, priced at less than $5 each, for both vehicles. They are conventional looking like the Trico Exact Fits. They are excellent. Clean wipes with a few strokes, and I am using far less washer fluid.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Normally I’ve had good luck with Bosch Icon, but on my 2006 Corolla they skip a lot. Anco are my other go to. Get the metal frame.

    I’ve also liked Valero blades.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    In SoCal I prefer the Anco and Trico OG open frame blades. I often encounter intermittent rain or splash from puddles that need to be cleared. The solid snow blades hold a lot more water and it flies up on to the windshield as things dry out. The open frame blades do that much less. There is seldom snow around here.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I find that there is no one best wiper blade overall, it is vehicle dependent. A couple of years ago Costco had Goodyear branded beam style blades and as usual they had a sale on them. So I picked up a pair for my wife’s Escape, my and my daughter’s Panther. They worked great on the Escape but on the Panthers they didn’t have enough pressure in the middle of the driver’s side. That meant that they would not clean the area directly in front of the driver. I pretty quickly went to WalMart and picked up a pair of I think Rain-X brand with one going on my driver’s side and the other on the Daughter’s car.

    My favorite, which I wish I could find more of were Dupont branded blades that I bought at Home Depot of all places. They had them on their black Friday sale and I picked up a pair. As expected since this was a stand alone display they reached a point where they put them on clearance. I bought them out of the 22″ size that the Panthers take but also fit on my truck and van even though the factory size is much smaller, 18″ in the case of the E-series.

    • 0 avatar
      The Comedian

      Those Goodyear branded ones at CostCo are garbage. Only time I’ve ever brought wipers back.

      I looked into it after the fact. They aren’t made by Goodyear, they’re just sold with the Goodyear name through a licensing deal. One of the few things from CostCo that ever disappointed me.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    I swear by Trico wipers. I’m a Metro Detroit native so they have that hometown appeal and their products are fantastic. I’ve used the Trico Force (premium blade) on my Odyssey since I bought it and I have the Trico Sentry (lower priced) on my Camry. Absolutely love them and I won’t use anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Me too. I tried a few brands on the CRV commuter, and nothing ever worked well until I got talked into a Trico Onyx. End of problems. That old CRV even had cheap replacement washer nozzles that were no match for the factory ones, but these blades were perfect even with the weak sprayers. It was so good, I’ve put them on the rest of the fleet. The Mustang still sucks in torrential rain anyway, but at least you can now see what you’re about to hydroplane into.
      I also converted to the non-alcohol “yellow” fluid since the Onyx is about double the cheap blade price, as supposedly its easier on the rubber? I dunno. We don’t get real snow down here, and maybe two saltings a year for ice, so haven’t really tested them in northern settings.

  • avatar
    MQHokie

    The main advantage of the frameless, beam-type wipers is that they are virtually unaffected by ice & snow buildup. If you live/drive in winter conditions there is no comparison. The open frame types are 100% useless in snow or freezing rain – once the joints get enough frozen precipitation on them the blades will lose windshield contact over most of their length. Without heat it’s damn near impossible to get them working right again until the ice melts. The rubber-sheathed frame types aren’t much better, condensation will get into the sheath and freeze, plus at highway speed the wind tends to lift them off the windshield.

    Also re: RainX – if you coat the windshield with it AND use their washer fluid, it will perform pretty well over time.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I put the Bosch Icons on my Grand Cherokee back in September or October. I like them a lot.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Rock Auto is a great place to buy wiper blades if you’re not in a hurry. I’ve paid $6 a blade for name brand beam blades before. Even with shipping, still beats buying them at local parts store.

    I’ve used them all and I’d give the edge to Bosch or Michelin. I’d go with Trico over Anco. Valeo makes decent blades too and I’ve used the PIAA but not recently. Might have to get some. I used to get two years out of blades, now it seems like 1.5 is it or about 20k. Winter beats up on blades pretty good, but I don’t like the chunky winter blades.

    Our Mazda 5 was one of those vehicles that the after market rear blades didn’t work. Tried a few and a few different brands. Always ended up at the Mazda dealer buying an OEM blade, but the fronts didn’t matter.

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