How to pick the best wiper blades for your car

January 29, 2015

Windshield wipers are easy to overlook until they leave your windshield so streaky and smeared that you can't see anything. Who wants that on a dark, rainy night? Even worse in the middle of a snowstorm? Here are some helpful pointers to find the right wiper blades for your car.

How to pick the best wiper blades for your car

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Types of wiper blades

Wiper blades come in two types: traditional and beam-style.

Conventional wipers
Conventional wipers use a metal and plastic ribbed frame that puts intermittent pressure on the rubber blade to remove road dirt, water and snow from the windshield.

  • They’re widely available and fairly affordable.
  • Because they aren't aerodynamic, they are susceptible to "lifting up" as you drive meaning they don't apply as much pressure to the windshield.

Beam-style wipers
This kind of wiper has a very minimal frame and a spring to make them conform to the shape of your windshield.

  • Beam wipers are designed to shed snow and ice in the winter.
  • Their frameless design is aerodynamic, lightweight and better at preventing streaking from occurring.

Hybrid wipers
Hybrid wiper blades combine features found on both beam- and conventional-style wipers.

Wiper blade features

Wiper blades often have extra features to help them perform more efficiently in certain conditions. Here are some common extras to look for.

Winterized wipers
Conventional wiper blades are prone to snow and ice build-up because of their design, but winter wiper blades are specially designed to help prevent build-up from occurring.

  • Conventional winter wiper blades have a rubber or plastic cover (or boot) over the blade.
  • They shouldn't be used in summer because they don't "hug" the windshield as well.

Heated wiper blades cut through snow and ice more effectively. They come in both traditional and beam styles.

  • They’re either wired into your car’s electrical system or connected through the cigarette lighter.
  • Although heated wipers are available to suit almost any type of vehicle, from cars and trucks to SUVs and RVs, they're an expensive option and may not be sold in your local garage, auto shop or car maintenance centre.

Most wiper blades use rubber or halogen-hardened rubber for the actual squeegee part of the blade, but don’t last forever.

  • Sunlight breaks down the rubber edges and they can chip or break down over time. Broken or loose blades can potentially cause the frames to scratch the windshield.
  • Silicone wiper blades are also available and leave a fine, water-resistant layer that sheds water more effectively.
  • Rubber and silicone are waterproof and gentle on your windshield when in good shape.

Factors to consider

Wipers are available in many different sizes. Often the sizes also differ for the driver- and passenger-side wipers on the same vehicle – so don't assume both are the same length when you buy.

  • Most auto shops can help you find the right size of wipers to fit your vehicle.
  • If you want to shop online, you can also check your vehicle owner's' manual or refer to a wiper blade chart on the website.
  • If you purchase wiper blades online, double check that you’re buying the right size and measure them when they arrive.

Tips to get more from your wiper blades

A streaky, smeared windshield is a nightmare on a dark, rainy road in the middle of nowhere. In winter, it's even worse because the road may be slippery. To ensure your wipers are doing their job properly (and for your safety):

  • Change your wiper blades every six months or immediately if you notice skipping, streaking or squeaking on your windshield.
  • Regularly clean your windshield to help extend the life of your wiper blades. Salt and sand deteriorate blades more quickly.
  • When parked in winter, especially if you're expecting a storm or freezing rain, pull up your wiper blades to avoid ice buildup. It also helps to prevent your blades from freezing to the windshield, which could burn out the wiper motor if you try and start them.
  • For imported cars with unique, curved windshields custom-fit wiper blades are available and may do a better job for you.

Although many people don’t recognize the importance of wiper blades, choosing the right pair can help keep you safer in wet and snowy conditions. By picking wiper blades designed for your type of car, you’ll ensure better outward visibility when you need it most.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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