When it comes time to replace windshield wiper blades, does it serve you best to spend more money on pricier brands?
Prices depend mainly on type and brand. There are three basic types of wipers. The most common is the frame type, which uses a metal framework to support the wiper. This is the most widely used and most affordable style of wiper.
The second type is the winter wiper, which has a rubber shell around the framework to keep it from collecting snow and ice that would hinder the mechanism’s flexibility and ability to conform to the windshield. Some winter wipers claim to use special compounds that keep the blades pliable in the coldest temperatures.
Finally there are beam-style wipers, a one-piece design that allows the blades to better adhere to the curved shape of the windshield. Other advantages include their aesthetic appeal, a claimed longer life and snow and ice resistance comparable to the winter wiper. Beam wipers are increasingly common on new cars.
In addition to the three types of wipers, there is a price separation between large, well-known brands and smaller, generic brands — much like the difference between brand-name and generic cereal at the grocery store.
Whether you should splurge on the beam-style or winter blades depends on you. If you live in the snow belt, winter blades would be a wise investment at the beginning of each winter. For beam-style blades, it depends on how much you’re willing to spend for aesthetics. Overall, the cheaper blades should do as fine a job of cleaning your windows when new. The same applies to generic versus well-known brand names. Our experience suggests that frequent replacement — every six months to a year — is more important than the initial price paid.