If you've ever walked into an auto parts store and seen the myriad types and sizes of wiper blades available, you might have wondered why there are so many different kinds.
The various sizes make sense--not every vehicle has the same size windshield--but why are there so many brands? And sometimes, the same size wiper from the same brand comes in different varieties! What's the deal?
Well, wipers come in different varieties because not everyone has the same need for their wipers. Some cost more because they last longer or do a better job cleaning the windshield.
Let's dig into some of the different kinds of wipers you'll run across to help you decide which is right for you.
Conventional Wiper Blades
This is the style you're probably most used to. These are made of metal or plastic and have anywhere from four to eight "touchpoints" that keep the blade against the windshield. All these points are articulated, flexing as the wiper goes through its motions.
Flat Wiper Blades
Also called beam blades, these blades are becoming more common than conventional blades, because they are thinner and more aerodynamic, thus aiding fuel economy and reducing noise. Unlike conventional blades with many exposed articulation points, these blades are one solid piece.
Hybrid Wiper Blades
The best of both worlds, these blades have almost as low of a profile as flat blades but with the wiping performance of conventional blades. The trick is that they use a spoiler to keep the articulation points from dragging in the air.
Does Expensive Mean Better?
You may wonder if more expensive wipers are worth it, and almost universally, the answer is yes. More expensive wipers tend to:
Usually, more expensive wipers are made from better, hardier materials.
For example, if you want winterwipers, you're going to pay more. Winter wipers use housings to keep snow from building up in small crevices and use various compounds and additives to keep the rubber from cracking in the cold.
Have More Options
Rain-X wipers come with special water repellant, so you don't have to use your wipers as often.
Not Damage Your Car
As cheap wipers age, they tend to fall apart in ways that can scratch your windshield. More expensive blades tend to use softer materials in places that could contact the glass.
You know that horrible squeaking sound you hear when you turn on your wipers when there's no rain? That's usually how cheap wipers sound. More expensive wipers are usually quiet in all conditions.
Not Cause Streaks
Streaks are frustrating because they often make it harder to see. Cheap wipers do a poor job of articulating to the windshield, while pricier wipers have no problem doing so time and time again.
The Value of Wipers
Shockingly, you get what you pay for. More expensive wipers tend to be higher quality, have more features, and last longer. It's worth splurging to protect your windshield and your sanity if you accidentally turn them on in dry conditions (and you're not wearing earplugs).
It might feel like there are too many wiper blade choices. Don't worry--it's not as confusing as it seems!