Wiper blades are critical for driving safely in both good and bad weather. Reduced visibility can lead to serious accidents. Wiper blades swish away rain and snow, bug splatters, and winter grime to keep your windshield clean and clear. So, when you’re picking out new wiper blades, there’s more to consider than size!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Wiper Blade Types
There are two main types of wiper blades: frame-style wipers and beam-style wipers. Both have many variations. Here’s how they compare:
- Traditional frame-style wiper blades are the most common. They feature an articulate metal bridge that serves as a mount for the blade. They’re suitable for almost every vehicle on the road. In winter, however, ice can freeze the joints, rendering them useless.
- Beam-style wiper blades, like this NAPA PROFORMER Wiper, have no external frame. Instead, the blade is supported by internal or external ribs. They’re also more aerodynamic and work better at high speed. Since they don’t have any joints, beam wiper blades featuring supple rubber can be a good choice for winter.
- Booted winter blades are frame blades encased in rubber boots. The boots do a good job of keeping the joints from icing up. The rubber is softer and stays flexible in the cold. They clean well in winter but wear out quickly in warmer temperatures. They’re taller than many OEM blades, so they may not fit some vehicles.
- Aerodynamic wiper blades are frame blades with an aerodynamic plastic shell. These tend perform better at high speed. However, the exposed frame will ice in winter. Also, some drivers find that the plastic is more fragile.
- Refillable wiper blades feature a removable rubber blade. Instead of replacing the entire assembly, you simply need to replace the rubber or silicone wiper insert. This wiper blade type is a smart choice if you tend to wear them out fast. Rubber inserts are a good value option and are available for all kinds of vehicles. Refillable winter blades look identical to non-winter blades but feature softer rubber. Silicone blades stay flexible at low temperatures.
How long do wiper blades last?
In general, rubber wiper blades tend to last about six months, while silicone wiper blades can last up to a year. This is because rubber deteriorates much faster than silicone when exposed to ultraviolet solar radiation and ozone. Here are a few other factors that shorten a wiper blade’s lifespan:
- Windshield age – After years of exposure to salt, sand, and dust, the pitted surface of the windshield reduces visibility and is mildly abrasive, wearing down the edge of the blade. If your vehicle is over ten years old, a windshield replacement can greatly improve visibility.
- Windshield cracks – The sharp edges of windshield cracks can cut your wiper blades quite easily. Every time they slide over a crack, star, or chip, their flat surface is worn away, ruining the squeegee effect.
- Road grime – Sand, salt, dust, and road grime build up on your windshield, and unfortunately, your windshield washer fluid isn’t enough to eliminate the abrasive effect these contaminants have on your windshield and wipers.
- Snow, ice, and frost – Using your car’s wipers to scrape away the windshield’s morning frost can dramatically shorten the life of your blades. Instead, use an ice scraper and keep the front defroster hot to prevent refreezing.
The best time to change your wiper blades is at the beginning of winter or summer. For rubber blades, the insert should be replaced every six months. In the spring and fall, you may also need different wiper blades offering season-specific benefits.
Check out all our vision and safety products available on napacanada.com or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for your car routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on wiper blades, chat with an expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
By Benjamin Jerew