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Are Pricey Wiper Blades Better Than Inexpensive Ones?

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When it comes time for replacement windshield wiper blades on your vehicle, does it serve you best to spend more money on pricier brands? Are more expensive replacement windshield wiper brands really higher quality? Is there a difference in the type of blade? 

Prices depend mainly on the type of windshield wiper you’re looking at and the brand name involved. There are three basic types of windshield wipers for your vehicle. The most common wiper is the frame type, which uses a metal framework to support the rubber wiper blade. This is the most widely used and most affordable style of replacement wiper.

Related: How to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

The second type is the winter wiper, which has a rubber boot shell around the framework to keep it from collecting snow and ice that would hinder the mechanism’s flexibility and ability to conform to the windshield contours. Some winter wipers claim to use special compounds that keep the wiper blades pliable in the coldest temperatures, making the replacement wiper out of silicone instead of regular rubber. 

Finally, there are beam-style windshield wipers, a one-piece design that allows the blades to better adhere to the curved shape of the vehicle’s windshield. Other advantages include their aesthetic appeal, a claimed longer life, and snow and ice resistance comparable to the winter wiper. The elimination of the metal frame also means they’re not going to rust on you over time, like a cheaper steel frame blade. Beam wipers started out on expensive high-end luxury cars, but are increasingly common on many new cars from just about all vehicle manufacturers. 

Regardless of the type of wiper you select, they all tend to attached to the wiper arms through common means, and one can often replace one style of windshield wiper with another. Sometimes they snap onto a J-Hook, sometimes they are bracketless, sometimes you’ll need to use the supplied adaptors. If your car came with steel frame-style windshield wipers, oftentimes you can replace them with beam-style wipers. Consult with the convenient books on replacement wipers wherever you buy yours, and you can see what fits.

In addition to the three types of wipers, there is a price separation between large, well-known brands (like Bosch and Rain-X) and smaller, generic store brands — much like the difference between brand-name and generic cereal at the grocery store. Increasingly, there are more variants appearing as well, such as wipers that include rain repellent like Rain-X, or all-season wipers that incorporate some of the winter style features, or special “aerodynamic” blades that supposedly help fuel economy. All of them will still clean your car windshield when installed and maintained properly. 

Whether you should splurge on the beam-style or winter blades for your vehicle depends on your needs and willingness to shell out some cash. If you live in the snow belt, winter blades would be a wise investment at the beginning of each winter. For beam-style blades, it depends on how much you’re willing to spend for aesthetics. Overall, the cheaper blades should do as fine a job of cleaning your car windshield when new. The same applies to generic wiper blades versus well-known brand names. Differences in noise, streaking or cleaning ability has more to do with keeping your blades clean rather than what they’re made of. Our experience suggests that frequent replacement — every six months to a year — is more important than the initial price paid. Cleaning your wiper blades regularly, even by just wiping them with a wet cloth to remove dirt and grime, can also extend their life and effectiveness significantly.

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