Which wiper blades are the best?

By Sean Bolger May 08, 2020

Buying new wiper blades can be confusing...

Some of the terms out there include; Aero, Teflon, Natural Rubber, Silicone, Beam Blade, Traditional Metal, Conventional, Flat, Hybrid, Euro, Frameless...

It's almost enough to make you want to give up and just let your mechanic throw on whatever they have in their shop...

Almost... but that's not why you're here.


A quick heads up, we're about to get stuck into some serious wiper blade talk. If that's not really your thing and you just want an answer, we definitely won't judge if you jump straight to the summary section at the end.


Ok, you're in?

Let's do this.


First, we need to break down the two main decisions you'll need to make when choosing wipers for your car.

  1. The assembly type (traditional, hybrid or beam blade)
  2. The blade (natural rubber or silicone)


Frame / Assembly Type


A quick aside, it's important to note that depending on your car you may not have a choice here at all. For instance, many newer cars (especially European and Japanese cars) come with a beam blade or 'Aero' style as standard, and won't suit any other type of frame.

Here are the main types of wiper blade assemblies:

Traditional Metal (aka Conventional)

Traditional Metal Wiper Blade

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. They're your cheapest option, and if you're not particularly concerned about your wipers or you're looking for something where you can manually swap out refills, this is one to consider. However, most car owners should steer clear.


Hybrid

Hybrid Wiper Blade

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 casing. The shaped outer casing goes some way towards reducing the issue of poor performance at speed as it reduces the amount of wind getting caught in the frame, however not to the same level as beam blade wipers.


These can be difficult and costly to find aftermarket and require unique refills often only available from dealerships that have a tendency to charge for the privilege. Whilst these usually work well when fitted to cars as new, replacing them like for like is difficult and choosing a beam blade wiper is generally a better option.


Beam Blade (aka Aero, Euro, Frameless, Flat)

Beam Blade Wiper Blade

Beam blade wipers are uniquely constructed with an internal pre-tensioned steel beam and a plastic outer casing. Because of their minimalist and streamline profile, they are by far the most effective at high speeds. The lack of exposed metal parts also ensures they are not susceptible to rust and corrosion.

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.

These are also widely available aftermarket, and are the clear best choice between the three assembly options.

However, be warned there are plenty of low-quality beam blade wipers out there. To ensure you're getting high performing, good quality blades, always look for those made premium natural rubber embedded with Teflon, coated with graphite and backed by a solid warranty.


Blade Type (Natural Rubber vs Silicone)


What's better? Rubber or Silicone wiper blades?

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.


Summary

If you're looking for new wiper blades the clear best choice for your car is a pair of beam blade wiper blades with a premium natural rubber blade.

However, it's worth noting that not all rubber blades are made 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.

Lastly, 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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Posted by
Sean Bolger May 08, 2020
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