Are Pricey Wipers Worth the Bucks?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 22, 2018

Dear Car Talk:

Are there any benefits, other than bragging rights, to purchasing premium wiper blades, as opposed to the $5.99 kind? Thanks. -- Bill

The bragging rights are big, Bill. I know we've all experienced the pride of driving up to our college reunion with a pair of premium wiper blades.

There actually is an advantage to buying better-quality wiper blades, Bill: they work better.

In our experience, there's nothing better than the original-equipment (OEM) wiper blades that are sold by the dealer -- they were designed to work on your specific windshield. The OEM blades tend to fit better. The spring mechanism that keeps the rubber edge pressed against the windshield is of higher quality, and keeps the blades from streaking or hopping. The rubber composition also tends to be better, leading to a clearer windshield and longer life (longer life for the blades, that is. There have been no studies yet that correlate better windshield wipers with human longevity).

Our customers who buy the $5.99 blades from some of the discount auto-parts stores find that they can't see as well in the rain, and the blades don't last as long.

Now, some of the OEM blades seem ridiculously expensive. OK, they are ridiculously expensive. My wife has a Volvo, whose blades cost north of $30 each at the dealership. But they work great and always allow her to see clearly out of the car. And is there anything more important than that? When they get dirty, I wipe them down with some alcohol, and they work great again.

If you don't want to buy the OEM blades, you can try replacement blades from reputable companies, like Bosch or Anco. But keep in mind that a lot of those replacement blades will require you to use an adapter to fit the blade onto the metal wiper arm. It's certainly doable, but you'll have to monkey around to make it work. And if you mess it up, and the blade falls off, you could put some nice gouges in your windshield.

You never can go wrong buying the OEM stuff. Check online for the genuine parts, and compare pricing to your local dealership's parts department.

So, unless your address includes the words "Mojave" and "desert," Bill, I recommend that you skip the $5.99 blades.

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