Does silicone last longer than natural rubber? Are metal blades better than plastic?
We’re going to break down the differences between the main types of wiper blades and explain why there is one clear winner when it comes to durability and performance.
Heads up, we’re going to delve pretty deep into some wiper blade dorkery. Just want an answer? We promise not to judge you if you jump to the summary section at the end.
Wait… there are different types of wiper blades?
Heck yeah there is. There are three main types of frames (metal, hybrid and beam) and two main types of blades (natural rubber and silicone), and one combination that is a clear stand out.
So what lasts the longest? Silicone or natural rubber?
Perhaps because they're hard to find, and not easily available to buy, silicone wiper blades carry a bit of mythical status.
But there's a reason silicone blades aren't supplied by most wiper blade brands and not easily available.
The reality is they aren't as durable and have a tendency to smear when compared to high-quality Premium natural rubber blades (especially those coated with graphite and embedded with Teflon).
Indeed, silicone blades are known to smear, and leave a haze across the windscreen. This is a commonly reported problem and occurs regularly enough that big wiper blade manufacturers know to avoid using silicone.
Silicone blades are also known to have issues with durability. Due to their susceptibility to temperature fluctuations, silicone blades tend to wear much faster than blades made from premium natural rubber.
Natural rubber blades are used by the majority of wiper suppliers and are what you'll find on virtually every new car and there's a reason for this. They tend to cause the least streaky, squeaking or smearing, and clear water best. Natural rubber blades are the most durable and best-performing option available.
So what is the best type of wiper blade frame?
Let's break them down...
Traditional Metal (aka Conventional)
This is the type of wiper you'll see on most pre-2005 vehicles and sometimes comes as standard equipment on cheaper new cars. It's an old-school design, and not particularly effective at high speeds as wind can get caught in the spaces in the frame.
These blades also tend to be susceptible to rust and corrosion as they're made from exposed metal. Because of this, they tend to be less durable than other options as they wear out faster.
Hybrid wiper blades come as standard equipment on most post-2005 Japanese vehicles. Though since 2016 there has been a decided shift towards using beam blades. These are essentially a traditional frame wiper blade with an outer plastic shell. The shell offers some level of protection for the internal metal components, but over time they are still susceptible to rust and corrosion, and therefore don’t tend to be as long-lasting as beam blade wipers.
Beam Blade (aka Aero, Euro, Frameless, Flat)
Beam blade wipers are uniquely constructed with an internal fully encapsulated pre-tensioned steel beam and a streamline plastic coating. Because of their minimalist and streamline profile, they are by far the most effective at high speeds. The total lack of exposed metal parts also ensures they are not susceptible to rust and corrosion, and therefore last longer than both hybrid and traditional metal frames.
So which frame is the best?
Beam blades have long been the chosen standard equipment on premium and high-performance vehicles, and because of their clear advantages are becoming the norm across the new car industry.
Not only do these perform better at speed, but due to their total lack of exposed metal parts, they are more durable and last longer than hybrid of traditional metal frame wipers.
If you're looking for the longest-lasting new wiper blades the clear best choice for your car is a pair of beam blade wiper blades with a premium natural rubber blade.
This is the lack of exposed metal parts in the frame that ensure they’re not susceptible to rust or corrosion (issues that can affect both metal and hybrid wipers). As well as natural blades that are less vulnerable to temperature fluctuations compared to silicone.
However, it's worth noting that not all beam blade wipers are created equal. To ensure you're getting maximum performance, durability and safety from your wipers look for dual-cut blades made with premium natural rubber embedded with Teflon and coated with graphite.
Also, make sure to look for blades with a solid warranty. Ideally, one that covers both fitment and performance issues (the longer the better). After all, no one wants wipers on their car that aren't guaranteed to do the job.
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