Best Windshield Wipers: Clearly a Good Idea

Top 8 Best Windshield Wipers

best windshield wipers clearly a good idea

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.

Table of Contents

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

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).

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

FAQs

Which windshield wipers are rated the best?

If you’re planning to for aftermarket windshield wipers, some of the best-rated brands are:

Bosch ICON ( Buy here!)

The brand produces these dual-rubber single-piece wiper blades in various sizes to best suit your vehicle-specific requirements. In addition, these are also available in sets of two.

ANCO 31 ( Buy here!)

Available in several sizes, each for specific vehicles, these single-piece wiper blades from this brand are tagged with the Amazon’s Choice badge and are considered-pocket friendly products.

Note: The URLs given above are merely for referential purposes. The main idea here is to introduce the brands so you can have some direction to look at while buying wiper blades for your car.

Do expensive wiper blades make a difference?

An honest answer would be that it’s not about the price of the blades or any other product for that matter, but their quality.

It is generally thought that anything pricy would be of good quality. This is not true every time. There are instances where some accessories are available at a lower cost but last longer as compared to those with a higher price range.

The same is the case with wiper blades. If you are planning to replace them from an authorized service station of your car, the mechanics may suggest you way expensive stock items. On the other hand, if you visit a local auto spare part store, the blades that they offer could be equally durable but might be available at cheaper rates.

That said, before paying for wiper blades, check how costly the stock product is, look for some aftermarket alternatives, check their reviews and compare the price, and then put your money in them.

Which is better rubber or silicone wiper blades?

When comparing rubber and silicone wipers, the latter outperforms the former in almost every aspect. To elaborate:

Durability

Silicone wipers can withstand heat, water, and other harsh environmental thrusts for longer durations. On the other hand, the rubber blades harden comparatively sooner by the heat strokes and therefore need frequent replacements.

Functioning

Every time a silicone blade wipes the windshield, it leaves behind a hydrophobic coat (a thin layer of silicone) which makes it hard for the water to stay on the glass, thus giving you clear visibility. Because of this characteristic, the usage frequency of silicone blades is reduced resulting in their increased life.

On the contrary, rubber wiper blades offer no such protective solution and therefore they are more prone to wear and tear.

Noise

Because silicone is soft, the blades made of this material remain gentle on the windshield and therefore are comparatively silent. Whereas rubber blades have a graphite coating and thus make a screechy noise while sliding on the glass.

However, when it comes to pricing, silicone wipers are a bit costlier than the rubber ones but the difference is quite insignificant, and the former blades are worth paying for.

Is it worth buying more expensive windshield wipers?

It all depends on which brand are you going for. Because the branded products don’t come cheap, you must check their reputation and the reviews that their existing customers have left.

Although the expensive wipers don’t need to be always good as the price tag is not a gauge of quality products, if the blades are made of expensive material, the cost of the overall product with automatically increase.

Nevertheless, if you plan to go for aftermarket wiper blades, you are advised to go for a good brand, regardless of the price they are sold at.

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 ‘[s]90s sedan shopping habits[/s] 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.]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jul 04, 2022

    After playing around with various options, I have become a wiper blade snob. I go to rockauto in the "Beam (Extended Life)" section and get the absolute top-of-the-line TRICO Ultra™ or ANCO Contour™ beam-style wiper blades. (Trico acquired Anco if that affects your decision at all.) They are very reasonably priced, they do a great job and they last a long time.

  • Mike Beranek Mike Beranek on Jul 05, 2022

    Seems to me that no matter how much you spend, all wipers wear out within a couple of months. I'd rather just get the cheap ones and replace them more often, that way they're always pretty "new".

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