Driving through rain or snow is the worst time to find out the hard way that you need new windshield wipers. Your wipers should be checked seasonally, so you're always prepared, knowing when it's time to change out the wipers.
It’s always amazing to me how drivers will wait until wiper blades are falling apart during a snow storm before deciding they need to do something. (I say this while staring in the rearview mirror at myself, guilty as charged.)
As any race car driver will tell you, having the best windshield wiper blades is almost as important as having great tires. If you can’t clear rain, snow, ice, and road splatter off your windshield to see where you’re going, a wreck is likely in your future.
It’s not that difficult, as I’ll explain, to change wiper blades. The hard part is sorting through all the options to make sure you purchase blades that handle your particular driving conditions. You’ll also want affordable wiper blades that last a long time. I mean, we’re going to put off this purchase as long as we can – again – so let’s make sure these new blades last awhile.
Changing your windshield wiper blades is a breeze. Let me share with you some of the best wiper blades available, and provide further insight on which to choose for your vehicle. I'll also cover the basics on how to change your windshield wiper blades. (There's nothing more rewarding than knowing you've performed an essential vehicle maintenance project.)
Comparison of Windshield Wiper Blades
Best Windshield Wipers for Winter Weather
Snow, sleet, and ice can make for a rough driving experience. You may not be able to control the quality of the roads you travel, but you can control what wiper blades you use to battle the elements.
Take a look at these five wiper blades I recommend for wrestling winter weather.
1. Aero Premium Wiper Blades
These are conventional wiper blades designed as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) replacements. Aero Premium Wiper Blades fall on the less expensive end of the spectrum while offering all-season durability for summer rain and wintry snow.
While these are conventional replacements, they have a “bracketless” design as described by the manufacturer. Aero states this flexible, aerodynamic construction combats snow and ice build-up like more expensive wiper blades.
The modern, flexible design of these blades allows them to “hug” the windshield more than older models. Maintaining consistent contact between the glass and the rubber of these blades adds to their exceptional performance.
These Aero blades are affordable and boast strong consumer confidence. Durable construction material reduces the obnoxious noise, wind lift, and drag associated with less aerodynamically designed wiper blades, providing smooth, optimum performance.
Considering the performance ratings, you might want to consider these for your winter windshield wiper blade change. It makes sense to try these out yourself before heavy snows start falling. For climates with less harsh winters, these blades may be a true all-season solution.
2. Bosch Icon Wiper Blades
Bosch replacement parts are well-known in the automotive industry, and their Icon wiper blades rival all other blades on the market. Using a beam design, these blades push the squeegee rubber uniformly against the windshield using enclosed tension springs.
Icon blades are flexible across the windshield to provide a clean sweep for clearing visibility in tough weather conditions. I love that these windshield wipers have a unique “spoiler” design that uses wind to push against the blades to keep them from lifting off the windshield at higher speeds along the highway.
Windshield wiper blades with this beam design are less affected by snow and ice, as these elements are less likely to collect on the blades. No one wants buildup on the blades that causes them to streak, fail to wipe the windshield fully, and decrease visibility.
Icon wiper blades deliver high performance during all seasons with a unique rubber blend that Bosch pledges will last up to 40 percent longer than similar products. This is good news for drivers living in harsher winter environments. A blade that battles the winter snows and fights off the rain and summer heat is a big plus.
3. Rain-X 5079297 Wiper Blade
Rain-X delivers a beam wiper blade with no exposed metal components and a synthetic rubber squeegee that can battle heavy rain, snow, and ice. This is likely a good choice for your vehicle if you live in an environment that experiences frequent, heavy snowfall.When it comes to installing this windshield wiper blade, I love its versatility. Each blade comes equipped with a multi-adapter that allows the blade to easily attach to nearly any windshield wiper arm.
Rain-X is known for products that keep windshields clear, and these blades live up to the brand's reputation. They feature a curved design to maintain pressure against the windshield, helping reduce the risk of lifting and that awful squeaking noise even in the toughest weather conditions.
The design of these blades helps avoid streaking, blade skipping, and the dreaded squeaking of blades across the windshield. Increased noise reduction adds to the appeal of these wiper blades for anyone spending significant time behind the wheel.
4. Michelin 8522 Stealth Ultra Wiper Blade
The Michelin brand delivers quality wiper blades at an affordable price. What I like about the Stealth Ultra wiper blade is the advanced technology combined with the streak-free performance.
The Smart-Flex technology beam design keeps the blades flexed against your windshield curve. This is important for cleaning water and debris from the windshield in harsh weather where everything is working against the wiper blades. The aerodynamic design fights against clogging from sleet, snow, or even pesky fall leaves. Michelin expects these blades to provide consistent performance for 300,000 wipe cycles.
Michelin knows rubber because of its history as a tire manufacturer. It’s no surprise these wiper blades take on all competitors with durable rubber that whisks water and snow away from the windshield with every wipe. Each sweep of these blades helps provide a clear view for drivers, which helps keep you safe on the road.
One of the best features of these windshield wiper blades is the Michelin EZ Lok connector system. Replacing the blades is quick and easy with this system so there’s no excuse for putting off switching your wiper blades seasonally.
These are highly-rated wiper blades with consistently positive reports from owners. If you’re looking for windshield wipers with quality manufacturing designed to perform over time, these blades may be for you.
5. Valeo Frameless All-Season OE Replacement Wiper
If you’re looking for all-around performance in your windshield wiper blades, Valeo may be your choice heading into the next weather change. Advanced design for these blades creates a single piece that avoids wind lift and reduces noise compared to conventional blades.
The single, flat blade design from Valeo maximizes rubber-to-windshield pressure points from one end of the blade to the other. Valeo claims there are thousands of these pressure points across the blade. These blades can easily wipe every flake of snow off the windshield for a clearer view of what's ahead.
The anti-noise spoiler on these blades is another great feature. Winds at high speeds won’t easily lift these wiper blades off the windshield, which boosts the pressure points keeping rubber on the glass. The more the blade stays on the glass the less streaking and skipping in harsh weather. The spoiler feature also works well because it reduces noise – the blade has almost no vibration (or “chatter”) due to wind.
Most vehicles can use these as replacement blades, and simple installation is a given with the Valeo wipers. High-quality blades like these that are easy to install encourage drivers to replace them as often as needed. Regular replacement of wiper blades is not a bad thing. With these affordable Valeo wipers, you can make plans to change them out before summer and before winter with no maintenance hassle.
Valeo windshield wiper blades are made to withstand harsh weather with the Tec3 advanced rubber technology. There is no metal infrastructure to these blades, which prevents snow and ice build-up that would otherwise block performance. These wiper blades are rated to handle wintry conditions that could freeze up exposed metal mechanisms in more conventional wiper blades.
Valeo delivers a strong combination of weather-battling features and performance in these wiper blades, which helps drivers maintain visibility in all types of weather and road conditions.
Double Check Blades Before Buying
Making sure new wiper blades fit your vehicle is the top priority when changing blades for the season. Every vehicle has a specific type of connector and blade size, while all blade manufacturers will have their variation of “universal” connectors to fit your vehicle.
Your vehicle should have one of three types of wiper arms, either side post, J-hook, or bayonet. These connectors make removing and installing wiper blades simple because they lock into place without the need for complicated tools.
The key to replacement wiper blades is getting the correct length with a connector that matches your vehicle requirements. All the reviews above describe quality wiper blades, so once you decide on the product, you can confidently order based on your vehicle make and model (my favorite feature).
The good news is many ordering sites online link to product guides to help with your selection. Wiper blade manufacturers provide detailed specifications for all their products to help you select the best replacement product for your vehicle. You can also reference the vehicle owner’s manual or stop by a local automotive store for information.
Conventional Wiper Blades
When selecting wiper blades, keep in mind that conventional windshield wipers have an external infrastructure, usually metal, attached to a rubber blade. This wiper style is usually less expensive. Conventional styles hold up against heavy rains, but drivers report that cold weather ice and snow can collect along this outer frame. Once blades are clogged with frozen rain they will streak or smear across the windshield and in extreme temperatures stop working.
Beam-Style Windshield Wiper Blades
Advanced beam-style wiper blades are designed to avoid clogging in winter conditions. These windshield wiper blades have a sleeker profile and are each designed to act like a spring that constantly presses the rubber squeegee against the windshield. The rubber-to-windshield pressure helps clear rain, snow, and ice from the driver’s line of sight consistently through all seasons. This pressure design also helps keep the blades performing at peak levels on newer vehicle models with windshields that have a distinct curvature.
What to Look for
While beam-style blades may replace conventional blades on many vehicles, the opposite doesn’t always work. Newer cars are sporting the beam blades as original parts. Conventional blades likely won’t work as replacements. Expect to spend a few more bucks on the beam-style blades and enjoy the increased performance from this technology.
In all replacement blades you should check for newer rubber composites, such as the Tec3 in the Valeo blades. Advanced rubber technology helps blades last longer in extreme temperatures and heavy, repeated use in harsh conditions.
I can’t stress this enough: make sure to double-check your vehicle make and model for a correct match before any purchase. Returning them is often more of a hassle than installing windshield wiper blades.
When to Change Your Wiper Blades
‘Tis the season to change windshield wiper blades! If you wait until the holiday songs are playing on the radio, you may get stuck with wipers that don’t last long after the first snowfall. A good time to check your windshield wiper blades is early November, before the snow hits.
Don’t follow the ill-fated advice of drivers who claim to use blades through multiple seasons or even years without fail. Wiper blades take a beating every time you use them, and replacing wipers regularly helps you maintain safe driving practices.
Here are some signs you need to replace wiper blades:
There are mild stretches to any weather season that can lull you into not paying attention to whether you need to replace your windshield wipers. Who needs wiper blades when it’s sunny with clear skies or when snow hasn’t fallen in weeks? When the weather outside isn’t frightful, check your blades for any of the conditions above and replace them if necessary.
Experts recommend changing wiper blades two times a year. I recommend getting replacement windshield wipers in early fall between Halloween and Thanksgiving. This gives you time to ensure the replacements are a proper fit and working well before winter weather. Changing wiper blades again in the spring is a good idea to avoid failing wipers due to damage done over a harsh winter. It’s a comfort to have new blades in place when rains start falling in spring and summer.
Another important note is to replace both windshield wiper blades, even if only one appears necessary. This way you’ll know when both blades were replaced. It also decreases the likelihood that one blade will start giving your problems before the other.
How to Change Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Changing wiper blades in the “old days” on older model cars was often a frustrating process because nothing ever seemed to match correctly. Wiper blade replacements today follow OEM specifications, and installing new blades can literally be as simple as a quick snap.
For example, the J-hook connector that links the wiper arm to the replacement blade simply snaps into place. This makes for an easy installation in just a few minutes on most vehicles, no tools needed.
Here’s an example of how to install wiper blades (watch for the J-hook information):
Changing from conventional bracket style blades to the more aerodynamic beam-style blades may take a little more finesse than expected. Again, ensure you buy the correct blades for your vehicle and follow the directions to install the new set.
If you get into a jam trying to replace blades, don’t get frustrated. Don’t be afraid to follow the video above, call a friend, or have your neighborhood automotive store clerk change them when you purchase the blades. Change out the blades once, and you’ll qualify as an expert every time going forward!
How Much Should You Spend on New Windshield Wiper Blades?
Cost is always a factor in vehicle maintenance. Replacement wiper blades can range from really cheap to causing sticker shock. Where you fit on the cost spectrum depends on varying factors.
If your vehicle sits in the driveway most of the time and rarely hits the road beyond the local city limits, I wouldn’t recommend higher-priced wiper blades. The Aero blades reviewed here come in a package of two which saves money right out of the box. The Valeo blades come in single blade packages but can be expected to last longer, allowing you to justify spending a few extra dollars.
Drivers who hit the road extensively for commuting or travel may want to consider the pricier Bosch, Michelin, or Rain-X blades. You can expect all these blades to handle harsh rain, ice, sleet, and snow. Changing these brands twice each year to maintain clear views through your vehicle windshield justifies the price.
Every driver also must consider the average climate where they live. Winter driving in southern Arizona won’t require the same level of winter performance as needed for daily commuters in Michigan. But desert drivers may still want to consider winter wiper blades because they can be expected to hold up to heavy rains mixed with dusty winds. My feeling is to always pay a little more for products that can handle extreme conditions. It’s one less worry on the road when you really need wipers to get the job done.
None of the wiper blades reviewed here should break the bank for most drivers. You can research and spend more, but I’m confident these replacement blades reviewed will serve you well in most situations.
One way to save money on wiper blades is to take care of your windshield all year long. Dirt and other debris stuck to the windshield can actually shorten the lifespan of your wiper blades, so be sure to clean your windshield regularly.
When removing frost or ice from your windshield in the winter, always reach for the scraper. Don’t be tempted to let your winter wiper blades do all the work. An ice scraper is the best way to remove frost, ice, or snow. Using wiper blades to clear winter elements wears down the rubber and can cause tears or fraying of the blades.
Don’t ignore windshield grime in warmer seasons. Mud, dirt, bug remains, and general road gunk can build up and cause windshield wipers to work harder than necessary. Anytime wipers are clearing anything more than water means the rubber is wearing down faster than expected. Clean your windshield regularly and consider using a special cleaning fluid in your windshield washer reservoir.
Regular vehicle maintenance, including washing the windshield, means you’ll spend less in replacement wipers.
My Windshield Wiper Blade of Choice
When buying new windshield wipers, remember to consider these factors:
Push come to shove, I’m going to double up on my windshield with a set of the Valeo wiper blades this season. These blades are built well, have a sleek design to repel water and icy-cold gunk, and are easy to install. The price is nice, so I can replace all blades on my vehicles spring and fall without sacrificing my budget.Windshield wiper blades are very important to daily automotive safety, so make your purchase an investment in protecting you and your vehicle in all weather conditions, especially this winter.