Top 8 Best Windshield Wipers
By | Last updated: July 7, 2021

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

Ignored when working well; cursed when worn out. No respect, indeed.

We’ve taken a look at this dusty corner of the automotive parts bin and assembled a few recommendations. For simplicity, 20-inch blades are linked here, as they are a common size. Be sure to check precisely what your car requires before laying out any money. Now, go check the wipers on your car before they wear out.

1. 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 are in the wiper game. These are the same blades your author put on his trusty Dodge Charger many moons ago, wipers which were still working fine when he sold the thing with 200k on the clock. This is a blade with hinge joints, not the frameless type, a feature which – in my 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 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 good for even Ray Charles, robust frame system
Cons/More expensive than bargain brands
Bottom Line/Editor's Pick for best windshield wiper

2. Traditional Choice: Anco 31-Series Wiper Blades

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
Bottom Line/When you're looking to save money

3. 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.

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 lasts for months
Cons/Marginally more expensive than average, unsightly connector
Bottom Line/If you need a frameless wiper, this is it

4. 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 an OE 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 brand and are available in loads of sizes – in fact, Trico claims no other manufacturer makes 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 the wiper arm. The company has its own R&D center in 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 than an array of items.

Pros/OE look, pre-assembled connectors, cheap as dirt
Cons/No shield for the metal frame
Bottom Line/Inexpensive, OE quality and fit

5. Caterpillar Clarity Premium Wiper Blades

Yes, that Caterpillar. These wipers are a business school case study in a respected brand name that’s made a reputation building tough items (bulldozers, et al) and then decided to lend that name to various and sundry consumer products. In addition to wipers, one can find CAT branded work boots, suitcases, and outerwear.

As for these wipers, they’re offered in a variety of different sizes. It seems to be a better value if a person buys them by the pair, which makes sense. Here’s the good news: that pair doesn’t necessarily have to be the same size. For example, one can buy a 19 inch and 20 inch set of blades to take advantage of the discount.

Pros/Cool brand name, savings offered even when the sizes don't match
Cons/Scattered report of tough install procedure
Bottom Line/User error is generally the problem with that issue

6. PIAA Super Silicone Blades

Known more for their auxiliary lights capable of illuminating the dark side of the moon, PIAA has dipped a tentative toe into the wiper blade market. As with their lights, PIAA’s wipers are made of quality materials and are expensive. PIAA windshield wiper blades are made with silicone rubber, a material that 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.

Pros/Silicone technology beads water, durable rubber pushes it away
Cons/Eye-twitchingly expensive
Bottom Line/PIAA doesn't just make fog lights and light bulbs

7. Thermalblade Heated Silicone Safety Wiper

Your author is never quite sure about ‘add-on’ automotive products after a particularly nasty experience with the installation of a one-size-fits-all Bass Cannon during his teenage years as a newly minted driver. However, that particular issue was probably installer error, given the fact I was a clueless teen who thought I knew everything. It was only a moderate fire, anyway.

Speaking of heat, this system purports to add warmth to your wiper blades, defrosting them and making them fit for use on a cold winter morning. We’ll note right here there are plenty of cars on the market these days that have a defroster grid in the wiper area. However, there are plenty of hoopties that don’t. Despite my hesitation towards adding wires on a moving part, the reviews are pretty good.

Pros/Innovative solutions, show off your DIY install chops
Cons/That a lot of wiring for constantly moving wiper arms
Bottom Line/Interesting product that I'll let someone else try first

8. Bosch ICON Wiper Blade

With their fingers in just about every automotive pie, it should be no surprise to find the Bosch brand somewhere on this list of common auto parts. Their line of windshield wipers is available in an array of sizes and in either one- or two-packs. This is handy for those of us rocking older cars with equal-sized wipers on both the driver and passenger sides.

Bosch says their wipers have an exclusive tension spring arcing technology that creates a fit that’s custom-contoured to the curvature of each side of the windshield. Reviews certainly seem to back that up, with over 30,000 real-world customers giving these things an aggregate rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. For a product that’s a commodity (and an invisible one at that), this is a pretty notable achievement.

 

Pros/Great brand name, actual R&D work applied to the product
Cons/More expensive than others on this list
Bottom Line/The good stuff usually costs more

Windshield Wiper FAQ

Which windshield wipers do I need?

Before pulling the trigger, make sure you’ve researched the correct sizes required for your car. Most modern 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.

What size windshield wipers do I need?

That’ll depend on your particular application. Some vehicles have blades the size of large rattlesnakes, wending their way across two zip codes and several time zones. Others have more compact units. It’s all down to decisions made by OEM engineers based on the car’s windshield size and shape. Oh – and don’t forget about the rear wiper, if there is one.

What are the differences between steel frame and beam wipers?

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.

Changes:

  • Replaced #8 with a new product
  • Updated descriptions with current information
  • Simplified FAQ

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: 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.)

[Main photo credit: admin_design / ShutterStock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

31 Comments on “Best Windshield Wipers: Clearly a Good Idea...”


  • avatar
    JMII

    After years of buying various blades from the isles of the local auto parts store I’ve switched to getting the OEM blades. eBay sellers offer these at more reasonable rates then the stealership’s 10X mark up. In fact the price is inline with the Bose ICONs (about $20 each). The OEMs obvious fit perfectly and work good enough for long enough. My experience with the “fits everything” aftermarket blades is they tend to look terrible. For example those Bose ICONs have a connector the size of a lighter.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Which are the ones most amenable to going full tilt when there’s a rain drop every 15 minutes? Those are popular for most in Minnesota.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Don’t buy your wiper blades in the store. I get them from RockAuto and toss them in with other orders at a fraction of the retail stores.
    I buy the Bosch blades and I have had really good luck with them. My cars tend to sit for long periods of time and the Bosch seem to last a long time without dry rotting.

    My advice is to skip the RainX blades. I am a 100% mark for RainX itself, but I gave the blades a shot and they never seemed to last more than a few months. Plus, at retail for RainX you can get 3 sets of Bosch from RockAuto.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I now carry a package of baby wipes in the trunk of my car – they are nice to have after pumping gas or checking the oil or visiting a store. If you have let your wiper blades go too long and they are streaking, grab a baby wipe and swipe the contact edge of the wiper blade several times – this will get you through a rainstorm and buy you some time to get new blades. (Used to do this at home with 91% isopropyl on a cloth, but the wipes make it easy to do on the road.) Hit the windshield with some Sprayway foaming glass cleaner at the same time.

    If your wipers are streaking and you need better vision *right now*, engage the washer function – yes in the rain. Sounds wrong but it works (because of the solvent in the washer fluid).

    Related: If the paint is peeling off your wiper *arms*, mark the wiper locations with tape, remove the arms using a Lisle 54150 wiper arm puller (or similar), scuff-sand the wiper arms, wipe them with 91% isopropyl and spray a light coat of Dupli-Color self-etching primer before spraying them with a quality semi-gloss (or satin) black paint. Let the paint cure, reinstall the arms and you will be amazed at the difference in appearance.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    “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.”

    That’s what the wiper companies want you to believe. What garbage. And speaking of garbage, replacing the entire wiper results in unnecessary waste and cost.

    If your car accepts a refill, find out what style, write the number down in your owners manual, and ask your local, independent parts store to order them (or send your money to Jeff Bezos). Buy a few sets; they’re cheap, and you’ll need them eventually.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I’ve had some Denso – pretty good

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    For many years I bought the cheapest ANCOs I could find and after 3 months they would start to noticeably degrade and I never got more than 6 months out of them. Then, bought a new F150 with beam blades on it that lasted 18 months and were still performing decently when replaced. I was sold from that point on, and I buy the cheapest beams I can find at Walmart for all my vehicles. Soooo much better than the traditional style.

    • 0 avatar
      36hp

      I got a new truck at work — a F-150. This was my first experience of beam wiper blades. Ford is very meticulous about aerodynamics. Could it be the beams have less drag? The blades rest in a high pressure area. Little things add up. It may only matter to the Bonneville bound.

      I replaced the blades on my 1999 f-150 with beams. They look cool. Now for some Moon hub caps……..

  • avatar
    azfelix

    I’ve been satisfied with my Bosch blades. Plus the imprinted Bosch name on the arm which is visible from within the car reminds you which brand to buy when replacing them. Clever.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Bosch ICON is a great wiper. Mine lasted about 2.75 years. Bosch Evolution is also good, slightly less expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        azfelix

        Agree, that’s my favorite.

        However the southwest sun and heat requires a 12-16 month replacement schedule for best performance. Buying from Rockauto helps limit the hit on the wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Update: The Evolution performance did not last, started skipping and streaking. Spend a few bucks more to get the IKONs, *and* always be sure to get the right part # for your car so it has the correct curvature. Don’t just buy the arm size in inches. Good things cost money.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    The last time I installed a new blade ( only one on the passenger side ) on my 97 GP I noticed the blade kept slipping out of the holder, I would keep sliding it back in, this went on for a couple of rains, I finally took a good look at the issue, I had not removed the clear plastic cover that is supposed to be taken off after being installed ! DUH! Old age. ;-)

  • avatar
    slap

    The worst windshield wipers I’ve ever had were the Michelin Stealth Ultras. The driver side blade would come loose, and one time it flew off of the car. This was on a car that is kept in a garage and not usually driven in rainy weather. Over my car ownership career I’ve put new wipers on around 50 times or so and it has never happened before or since.

    • 0 avatar
      Deontologist

      I call this operator error.

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        Except I’ve put wipers multiple times on many cars with absolutely no problems. And it wasn’t a single time that wiper came off – it came off several times, and then I’d reattach it after each time – if it was installation operator error it would have only happened once. And after I replaced the blade with another brand it never happened again – so the clip on the wiper arm where the wiper blade attaches seems ok.

  • avatar
    TheMrFreeze

    The last few years I’ve been buying Aero beam wiper blades off of Amazon. You can get a matched pair for your car for $18 or so and they last longer than any store-bought blades I’ve ever bought (even in our harsh upstate NY winters). Aero is now including a extra set of refills with the beams so you get double the lifespan of the blades.

    Maybe there are some really high end blades out there that are a little better than these Aeros but for the money they’re an absolute steal.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Our cars now use the wiper blades to deliver windshield washer fluid – so only OEM for us now.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    the issue with recommending one brand over another is that it often depends on the vehicle. so, a given 26″ bosch might work great on a mazda cx-9 but the same blade might not work so well on a kia sorento. and the rain-x might work better on the kia sorento but not the mazda cx-9.

    strong argument for just going OE as it is tested and proven. just add them to your wishlist on amazon and buy them when there is a price drop.

    but, if you can find a cheaper version than great. but no guarantee that same blade will work as well on your next car.

    that’s been my personal experience.

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      As I understand it, one reason is that different vehicles have different curvatures to their windshield, and some windshield wipers have a harder time conforming to a windshield with significant curvature.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yup a few years ago Costco had Goodyear blades on sale and I bought some of our vehicles, they just didn’t work on the Panthers, left a strip in the middle of the driver’s side that it didn’t clear properly. It wasn’t just one of them either. I swapped them from side to side on the same car and tried them on another Panther we have. They worked just fine on the other cars I put them on.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Related:

    https://youtu.be/HKGhKrQmK68

    https://tinyurl.com/y4geon8v

    https://youtu.be/LdNu113Ep2U

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Strangely there is no size of the Michelins which fit a 2016 VW Golf Sportwagen.

  • avatar
    poggi

    Project Farm Youtube comparo https://youtu.be/g3S8udUSKtY

  • avatar
    Snooder

    Just bought the Michelin Stealth Ultras as recommended. Noticed the other day that my wiper was just not up to snuff any more so this article came at a welcome time.

    We’ll see if it pans out.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Phooey on Bosch. The ones I got hardly lasted a year.

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    it seems like the quality of all aftermarket blades has dropped over the years. It seems like none of them last. I usually buy either Bosch or Rain X. Might try the PIAA if the cost isn’t too ridiculous.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.