Most drivers don’t think much about windshield wipers until they get caught in a rainstorm. When the water starts splashing on the windshield, and it becomes difficult to see ahead, then the thought of replacing the wipers comes into the mind.
It’s pretty straightforward why we don’t obsess over windshield wipers that much. With all those engine parts that require our attention 24/7, we tend to overlook smaller vehicle parts. However, it turns out that wipers are just as important as serpentine belts, brakes, and other vehicle components.
Having quality and well-functioning windshield wipers is all about being safe on the road. When you have rain, snow, and dirt smeared all over the windshield, your vision is blurred, and you can seriously jeopardize yourself and other drivers on the road. Not to mention, all that dirt and residue becomes annoying and makes you lose focus. That’s why it’s crucial to upgrade your vehicle’s wipers now and then to ensure safer and more enjoyable rides.
When Should I Replace My Wipers?
Before we get to the part of choosing a proper type and size of windshield blades, it’s essential to consider when these accessories should be replaced. A lot of drivers don’t pay much attention to their windshield wipers until they break and fall off, which is dangerous in many ways. Not only could damage your vehicle, but you might find yourself in the middle of a rainstorm without wipers. If that happens, chances are you’ll end up blind to the traffic around you.
To avoid these situations and stay safe every time you hit the road, you should replace your windshield wipers regularly. Keeping them new and in the best condition will ensure you never end up with obscured vision regardless of the weather outside. That’s why most professional mechanics recommend replacing the windshield wipers after six months. They can sometimes last significantly longer, but you should still pay closer attention to their performance and condition six months after the installation.
Things are different when wipers get damaged. If you hear squeaking, chattering, skipping, or grabbing at any time, consider it as a sign for replacing the wipers. These accessories should work without any noise, and they shouldn’t leave any streaks or bands of water on the windshield. Although it might seem that these are not big issues, keep in mind that damaged wipers might scratch and damage your windshield irreversibly.
To sum things up, it’s good to replace wipers as soon as breaks, cracks, or other damages are detected. If they prove to be of excellent quality and high efficiency after six months, you can let them be for a year, and then opt for a new model.
Types of Windshield Wipers
Once you determine you need new windshield wipers, it’s time to choose the best wiper blades for your vehicle. There are three common types of wipers on the market: conventional, beam-style, and hybrid. The type you’ll choose mostly depends on your vehicle model as well as your preferences.
Conventional wipers are also known as traditional or bracket-type wipers. They are the most commonly used type, mostly because of the low price. Conventional wipers feature a metal framework that accommodates halogen-hardened rubber or rubber squeegees. They are easy to install and efficiently wipe off rain, snow, and dirt from the glass. However, the blades are prone to damage and only offer a six-month lifespan. If you want a more durable solution, you’ll have to add a few more bucks for one of the two other types of wipers.
These are designed for ultimate efficiency and durability. If you have some extra money to spend on your wipers, this type is what you should aim for. Beam-style wipers are one-piece items with blades that are reinforced with silicon or dual rubber. They apply even pressure on the windshield, making sure all the water and debris stays out of the way. Also, these wipers don’t have an external frame, and they follow the curve of the windshield.
Hybrid wipers are similar to conventional ones except for the added outer shell. With this extra feature, the wipers are low-profile and more aerodynamic. Thanks to the preservative rubber case that covers the blades, hybrid wipers are more resistant to water and last longer than conventional ones.
Which Windshield Wipers Do I Need?
As we mentioned above, the windshield wipers you’ll need depends on your vehicle model. Not all are the same, so you’ll want to get a proper type and size to fit your vehicle. Considering how many different types of wipers there are, it might seem that finding a proper match is rather difficult. However, that’s not the case. You can quickly and easily find a perfect fit by checking your owner’s manual, as it contains all the necessary specifications regarding the wiper size and model.
There are also websites that allow you to simply put in your vehicle specifications and find a proper pair of windshield wipers. All you need to do is to type the year, make, and model of your vehicle, and you’ll get a list of compatible wipers. This is also convenient if you’re considering buying wipers online.
Your decision might be influenced by a couple of other things. First, you should consider the climate in your area. Some windshield wipers are suitable for summer, while others are made for winter. If you need heavy-duty ones that can withstand all weather conditions and last for a while, be prepared to pay some extra cash.
Second, your driving habits are of great importance, too. If you don’t drive that often, you can get budget-friendly wipers. They are just as efficient as high-end ones and, considering you won’t be turning them on that often, they will last for quite some time. On the other hand, if you drive daily and use your windshield wipers often, you should get a model that can withstand heavy use.
Choosing the Right Materials
When deciding what windshield wipers you need, it’s essential to consider the blade type. It’s not all about getting the proper model and size. The blade should also fit perfectly to your windshield and be able to clean it properly. Also, not all blades can withstand different weather conditions, so you should consider which ones match your needs.
Most wipers are made of flexible metal and feature a rubber coating on top and blades underneath. The three main types of blades are rubber, silicone, and coated. All of them are efficient and reliable, but one might suit you more than another.
The rubber blades are most commonly used. They are cheap and easy to install, which are two of the main reasons why drivers opt for installing them on their vehicles. However, keep in mind that they are prone to damage more than other types and might quickly give up to snow, ice, and other hazards.
If you want more durable blades for extreme driving conditions, the silicone type might be an excellent choice for you. Silicone is more resistant to weather and can go through different seasons, which means it’s more durable. Still, the material is also more expensive than rubber, so those who are on a limited budget don’t usually buy these.
The middle solution to these two previous types would be coated blades. Basically, these are rubber blades covered with materials such as Teflon or graphite. This way, they are protected against wear and weather. Instead of the rubber touching the windshield, the coating contacts it, keeping the rubber material preserved. Thus, the rubber lasts longer and you don’t have to change your wipers that often.
Getting a Proper Size
Although sometimes both windshield wipers might be the same, they are mostly different-sized. The one on the driver’s side is often longer than the one on the passenger’s side. This is so they can cover more area and prevent colliding into each other.
Did you ever wonder why you can’t just install larger and longer wipers on your windshield and get the job done? It’s actually rather simple. If the wipers are too long, they’ll hit each other and cause a lot of damage. They’ll also prevent you from focusing on the road and might even damage the windshield. On the other hand, wipers that are too small won’t clear enough area to allow for ultimate visibility.
The vehicle manufacturer chooses the optimal wiper size, and this number varies a lot depending on the vehicle model. For the reasons we listed above, you’ll want to get aftermarket wipers that are the same size as the stock ones. Luckily, there are a couple of easy ways to find a proper match.
Just like with choosing the proper windshield wiper type, you can check the owner’s manual to find the recommended size for your vehicle. Another option is to use an online calculator that will offer you the correct size once you insert the year, make, and model of your vehicle. You can even compare blade size finders on different websites and double-check whether all of them are recommending the same thing. If you fail to find an online recommendation, you can always measure your old wipers or your windshield and ask a mechanic for advice.
If you’re looking for an alternative to buying new windshield wipers, you can always opt for replacing only the rubber wiping element. This is known as a wiper refill or insert. This way, you can keep the existing metal frame and refresh the wipers by replacing the rubber part on the blade. A lot of drivers opt for this option because they save money.
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However, this is not widely recommended, mostly because the rubber element is not the only part that gets worn out. The chances are that the framework and the connections will loosen up over time as well. Even if you have new rubber on the blade, the other parts might cause wipers to malfunction. Installing a rubber element might be a lot more demanding than mounting a new set of wipers as well. You also need to know the exact model of the installed wipers to find a proper rubber part.
To sum things up, finding a proper pair of aftermarket windshield wipers is not that difficult but requires some degree of research. You want to find a pair that perfectly fits your vehicle model and your driving habits. It’s not only crucial to get the wipers according to the year, make, and model of your vehicle, but to also get quality ones that will last. They should be well-made and durable enough to withstand the hazards you’ll be putting them through daily.
Therefore, the type of windshield wipers you need mostly depends on your vehicle and your personal needs and preferences. Just don’t forget to inspect the wipers and change them regularly. If you notice any of the symptoms such as noise, improper wiping, streaks, and residue, make sure to get a new pair. This way, you’ll enhance visibility on the road, stay protected, and keep others safe on the road.