The Best Windshield Wipers of 2018By Dan Roth
Wiper blades may just be little strips of rubber, but sometimes they're all that stand between you and certain disaster in the midst of a storm. But while they're crucially important for driving, you might not spare them much thought until you need them most. And when you need them, it's vital that they work—which means blades that smear or chatter are due for a replacement.
If you're wondering which wiper blades will serve you the best, don't fret. We've tested some of the most popular brands of windshield wipers to find the ones that will keep you safe on the road. Our favorite PIAA Super Silicone wiper blades (available at Amazon for $22.94) should absolutely do the trick, providing the best windshield clarity when compared with other models out there.
Of course, the PIAA wipers aren't the only great ones you can buy. Here are the best windshield wipers, in order:
- PIAA 95055 Super Silicone
- Valeo 900 Frameless
- Aero Premium All-Season
- Rain-X Latitude
- Michelin Stealth Ultra
- Bosch Icon
Updated May 22, 2018
PIAA 95055 Super Silicone
PIAA 95055 Super SiliconeBest Overall
These are a sturdy, structured set of metal wiper blades that work just as they should. During testing, it seemed like the more they wiped, the clearer our view through the windshield became. The blades come with a glass cleaner/windshield treatment that promotes water beading, which we applied to good result.
The PIAA blades use an older-style open-frame design we found a bit tough to install, requiring several attempts to select the correct plastic adaptor so that the blades would mount to the J-hook wiper arms on our test car. That said, performance was the real deciding factor, and the PIAA blades impressed us with their ability to clear our windshield of any visual obstructions. This is a wiper we expect will perform for a long time and cope with the weather, no matter the season.
Aero Premium All-Season
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
Aero Premium All-SeasonBest Value
Aero is an independent company, which sets it apart from big names in wiper blades like Bosch, Michelin, and Valeo. But even though it exists outside the auto supplier mainstream, Aero blades are sold as direct OEM-quality replacement. That means you can expect them to fit and perform at least as well as the original wipers that came on your car.
During testing, we found them among the easiest to install out of all the blades we tested, and they were able to handle just about every type of weather condition. That said, they did ride up and over a windshield coated in sticky honey, which indicates they might do something similar when pitted against sap or even slush. If you're worried about the durability of rubber coming from a company that's not a giant industry supplier, rest easy knowing that Aero backs its Teflon-coated wiper blades with a six-month warranty for your peace of mind.
Finally, the price for the Aero wiper blades is downright cheap, making it our best value pick.
What you need to know about windshield wipers
You may not know the first thing about cars or wiper blades, other than you need one to get around and the other so you can see when bad weather happens. So when you're shopping for new wiper blades, where do you even start?
First, you should make sure you know what vehicle you're driving. This may sound ridiculous, but some model names have been in use for decades, and the multiple generations of a given car can differ significantly from each other. For example, the Ford Mustang has been on sale for over 50 years, and wipers that fit an original '65 Mustang will not be the right ones for a 2018 model. Knowing the year, make, model, and trim level of your particular car will help you find the right stuff.
Second, take some time to think about what you need from your wiper blades. If you live somewhere with a lot of snow and ice, you may want winter blades that cope better with frozen elements, thanks to their sturdier construction. But if you frequently drive on the highway, that's also a consideration, as some winter blades have a tendency to lift off the windshield because the heavy rubber boots don't offer great airflow.
Third, the basics work just fine. Some blades may seem fancy, with winglets, double blades like a razor, or some other kind of gimmicky extra. You don't need these. And just because something is expensive doesn't mean it's good.
A few important tips:
Wipers are sized by length. If you can't find the exact length you need in a pinch, going slightly shorter is less likely to cause issues than using a longer blade. It will clear a little less of the windshield but probably won't interfere with any trim.
Knowing how the wipers mount to your car is probably the most important detail. Most cars, including our test Crown Victoria, use a "J-hook" mount. However, you may run across "pin-mount" attachments or even different sizes of J-hooks. Make sure you're getting the wiper that's meant to work with your car's mounting system.
How We Tested
Who am I?
Hi, I'm Dan. I have been repairing and maintaining my own cars for decades, since before I even started driving. All these years with tools in hand have helped me understand the hundreds of individual systems and thousands of components that make up the modern car—and how they all interact with one another. I have also been writing automotive content, including car reviews, for the past 10 years. This means that I get to try out lots of cars and automotive products, evaluating what's truly unique and helpful so that you can spend your hard-earned cash on the right stuff.
The best way to test windshield wipers is to actually use them on a real car. We started by choosing a selection of the top wiper blades on the market and installing each brand of wipers on one side of our test car, a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria, noting any difficulty we had with installation. Ease of installation definitely matters, especially since a lot of wipers are bought during a time of great need, when a person might not have ample time to stand around in a dark snowstorm getting the blades on the car. We kept a 6-month-old Trico wiper blade in place on the other side so that we could compare its performance to each new wiper blade.
We used the wiper blades during rainy conditions—or, when the weather didn't cooperate, simulated rain created with a spray bottle and garden hose. To mimic more viscous substances such as tree sap or bird droppings, we placed honey and commercial pancake syrup on the windshield and evaluated wiper performance. We also mixed up fake snow and applied it to the windshield to see how well wipers might perform in the winter. We used the blades while the car was sitting still, as well as during several miles of around-town and highway driving.
At low speeds and in lighter precipitation, all new wiper blades seem to work well. The difference in our testing turned out to be how clearly we could see through the windshield, which is where the PIAA Super Silicone blades provided the best results. Longevity will vary with the climate, but it's also a real factor in choosing the best blades, which is why we selected products with high ratings as a hedge toward longer-term satisfaction.
All things considered, by the time we were finished testing all the windshield wipers, we were confident in our ability to recommend the best ones out there.
Other Wiper Blades We Tested
Valeo 900 Frameless
Valeo 900 Frameless
These beam-style wipers are a good value and come highly recommended in some auto enthusiast circles. They're also used by a large number of automakers as standard equipment—and they can't all be wrong, can they? Installation is very easy, and the blades have an integral spoiler as part of their design, which interacts with the airflow to help press the blade against the windshield. Valeo has updated this long-running design with its Tec3 rubber formulation, promising longer-lived performance than I've experienced in the past using the previous model of the Valeo 900 on my own vehicles. With integrated flex elements to provide lots of contact points between the blade and windshield, as well as an absence of exposed metal, these wipers should be well-suited to winter conditions.
Rain-X is a magic elixir that has a reputation for making water bead up and flow right off the windshield. The rubber blades of these wipers have been impregnated with the Rain-X solution so that the action of the wipers will deposit the famous, effective coating to the windshield glass.
After using these ourselves, we can definitely say they effectively transfer some of the Rain-X coating to your hands during installation, though they're easy enough to install. The connectors on these seem larger and more blocky than what you see on other wipers, which may create more wind noise. When I pulled the blades away from the glass and snapped them back into place to clear debris trapped underneath, it left a persistent smudge on the glass, and the coating the wipers deposit on the windshield isn't as clear as the one laid down by the PIAA Super Silicone.
Past personal experience leads me to believe the Rain-X blades and coating are likely to last well over time, but you can probably do better.
Michelin Stealth Ultra
Michelin Stealth Ultra
If any company should know how to make an excellent wiper blade, it’s rubber giant Michelin—and these are indeed very good blades. They’re easy to install and perform well in most conditions. They seem well-constructed, and several hinge points on the blades help them conform to the shape of the windshield. The area around each hinge is also designed to resist the buildup of snow and ice.
The Michelin wipers may not be our #1 pick, but they do offer the assurance of a big, long-lived brand.
Another long-standing name in the auto-supplier business, Bosch blades have a solid reputation. The list of Bosch wiper product lines is deep, but the Icon blades stand out as being tough enough to put up with winter weather and also last throughout the rest of the year. These blades are easy to install, and the beam-style design maintains good contact with the windshield. An integrated spoiler is also part of the Bosch Icon design, promoting windshield contact at higher speeds. Water is no problem for the blades, but thicker substances seem to be more of a challenge, though they finally wiped away with a shot of the windshield washer. Simulated snow, heavier rain, and lighter mist all wiped away cleanly during testing. In the past, I have been disappointed by the longevity of the rubber in Bosch blades I have tried, but Bosch says its current rubber formulation lasts longer than others.