When it comes time to replace your wiper blades, you’re likely spoiled for choice. With so many different models to look for and technologies to consider, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are several key factors to home in on when it comes to getting a great set of wipers at a reasonable price. After locating the most promising options for a range of vehicles, we put them through our testing protocol to determine the ones most worth slapping on your car.
Take a look below at quick info on the best wiper blades, then scroll down for buying advice and in-depth reviews of these models.
What to Consider
Outside of performance, the biggest differentiators for wiper blades involve the mounting systems, styles, and material of the blade itself. Out of the box, the ideal wiper should be affordable, easy to install, exceptionally quiet, and clear precipitation away from your windshield better than the competition. It’s also important to find the right size blades that are compatible with your vehicle.
➥ Mounting Systems & Compatibility
Like many things in the automotive industry, there are countless standards. When it comes to fitting wiper blades to your vehicle, plenty of solutions already exist ranging from pins, tabs, hooks, and sometimes even screws. However, this makes life difficult for wiper manufacturers that want to create models that connect to all of these.
Before fumbling with the wrong set of wipers, be sure to consult your local auto parts store or dealership to make sure you’re getting the right blades for your vehicle. Each unit we tested—with the exceptions of the Bosch Icon and Bosch Focus, which have J hooks—uses a vastly different assembly to make contact with the automobile but are universally compatible.
➥ Wiper Style
Most wipers come in two different forms. (There is a hybrid between these, but it is much less common.)
Frame-style: These wipers are the simplest on the market—and the most affordable. To maintain contact with the windshield, they use a steel superstructure that suspends a number of levers that attach to the blade itself. These levers push the wiper onto the windshield, often leading to streaking where they meet together.
Beam-style: While frame-style wiper blades have a series of levers, these newer blades use a steel beam that runs the length of the wiper to provide consistent contact. Along with better performance, the beam design isn’t as vulnerable to the elements in winter and allows for an aerofoil to stop the wiper from lifting off the windshield in heavy gusts.
While the blades on some wipers are rubber, silicone wipers are vastly superior. The material is much more resilient to the elements, performing better and lasting longer. Regardless of the material, wiper blades leave residue on the windshield; silicone is inherently hydrophobic, which should help water bead off your windshield. Sure, rubber was quite a bit more cost-effective in its prime, but silicone wipers have become more affordable, and the performance benefit is well worth the price. If you’re unable to find a great set of silicone wipers, synthetic rubber is a great substitute.
How We Tested
In selecting the best of the best wiper blades, I sourced a pool of the latest models that presented superior value, functionality, and design. To accurately evaluate each wiper’s performance, I called on the help of my 2015 Volkswagen GTI as a testbed. Creating a repeatable experiment to assess each unit, I sprayed my clean windshield with a three-to-one mix of washable paint and water before using each wiper blade to clear it away. I continued to flip the wipers on until the path was 100 percent clean and no paint remained. Between each test, I scrubbed the windshield with car soap, which I followed by squeegeeing the leftover water and drying the glass.
Making sure that I packed the windshield with the same amount of paint every time, I used a pressurized garden sprayer. Between each run, I depressurized the unit and pumped it up 35 times. Once it was time to lay down the paint, I made two passes in a cross-hatch pattern—up and down then side to side—for maximum coverage.
For the second experiment, I compared noise levels on a semi-dry windshield—as nothing is worse than a wiper that squeaks during a light rainstorm. I began by wetting down the windshield, then using a squeegee to clear 80 percent of the water away. However, instead of wiping it dry as I did in the previous test, I left the remaining 20 percent of water on the glass. Using a calibrated decibel meter placed on the hood of the car, I flipped the wipers on one time to record a reading. After running this process three times for each model, I averaged the readings for a final result.
While each wiper features a bespoke design to rid the glass of water, I found that all of these models performed very close to one another straight out of the box. The most notable differentiating factors—and what you should focus on during your search—were ease of install and noise level.
Rain-X Silicone Advantedge
Wipes to clean: 2 | Noise: 58.1 dB | Material: Silicone
When it comes to getting what you pay for, wiper blades are no exception. Befitting the most expensive model in our test, the Rain-X Silicone Advantedge performed the best and remained the quietest. It also applies a water-repellent coating as it runs along the glass. So does the Michelin Endurance XT below, however, unlike that wiper, this one remained whisper-quiet. The only gripe I had with it was a difficult install, thanks to a mechanism that was exceptionally complex and didn’t inspire a secure connection.
Michelin Endurance XT
Wipes to clean: 3 | Noise: 71.1 dB | Material: Silicone
Yes, the Endurance XT was the loudest wiper in our test, but it was also one of the most affordable, with great performance for the price. Along with the Advantedge above, which costs close to twice as much, the Endurance XT applies a water-repellent coating as it runs along the windshield. On top of the blade laying down small bits of silicone—which is inherently hydrophobic—Michelin has treated the wiper with four layers of its hydrophobic coating to improve clearing ability before the wiper is even engaged. For motorists who experience relatively mild seasons throughout the year, this will be a great option.
—EASIEST TO INSTALL—
Wipes to clean: 3 | Noise: 61 dB | Material: Synthetic rubber
The Trico Maxx was level with its compatriots in terms of performance but remained one of the quietest, producing a whole ten decibels less than the Michelin Endurance XT. However, the clear party piece of the Trico was how easy it was to install. Rather than being stuck with one universal carrier, the Trico comes with two, which snap in and out using a series of clips. After fitting the correct bit of plastic, there are a series of removable plastic spacers—used to accommodate different mechanisms—that clicked in securely once I had the right arrangement for my VW.
Wipes to clean: 3 | Noise: 65 dB | Material: Synthetic rubber
The Focus is a bit of a standout among the wipers here. Aimed to optimize night-time running, this wiper features clever technology to mitigate reflection while maintaining strong performance elsewhere. The spoiler—which keeps the wiper stuck to the windshield in high winds—is coated in a light-absorbing charcoal powder to eliminate reflections for those inside the vehicle. Along with the unique design of that spoiler, the Focus also includes a wear indicator on the outside edge, which turns yellow when it’s time to replace your wipers. Aside from the über-clever design points, the pair is easy to install and not too loud.
Wipes to clean: 4 | Noise: 63.4 dB | Material: Synthetic rubber
Much like the Focus, Bosch’s Icon uses clever design elements to improve performance. To eliminate wind lift—where strong gusts can blow the wiper off the windshield—this blade uses an asymmetric spoiler to create uniform levels of downforce across the wiper. It’s not quite a Formula 1 level of aerodynamic design, but more contact with the windshield means more water gets wiped away. The blade of the Icon has Bosch’s ClearMax 365 technology, featuring a soft rubber core with a hard polymer shell to improve performance and longevity. Much like the Focus, the Icon uses the same carrier mechanism, making for quick and easy installation.
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