Best Windshield Wipers

November 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
When it comes to keeping your car in good working order, something owners often overlook are windshield wipers. But this small, inexpensive item is a huge safety measure. Most people don't think about their windshield wipers until they really need them, in the middle of a storm.

Consumer Reports tested 15 windshield wipers, evaluating how well they remove water after three months, six months, and nine months. Included in the tests - a newer type called a beam blade.

John Galeotafiore, Consumer Reports, says "They come as a whole blade you install, no metal or plastic frames or any joints like conventional wipers."

Testers built this machine to simulate rain. It delivers a sequence of rain patterns from a heavy downpour to a light mist. Testers sized up how much water is left behind, and if there are lines, smudges, streaks, or squeaks.

The good news says Galeotafiore, "Tests showed that when new, these blades performed at least very good, if not excellent."

But Consumer Reports' tests show wipers deteriorate in just a few months. "After three months, most of the wipers didn't clean as well. And after six months, only one scored better than good," Galeotafiore.

Testers also looked at how easy the blades are to install and remove. Dave Trezza, Consumer Reports, says "Most vehicles have a hook type mounting arm, which is the easiest for removing and installing wiper blades. To remove the old wiper blade, simply release the tab, slide it off. To install the new wiper, simply do the reverse. Slide it on until it clicks."

In the end, Consumer Reports top-rated the Valeo 600 series. Depending on the size you need, they cost anywhere from $9 to $15.

Consumer Reports says wipers wear so gradually, people often miss the fact they've deteriorated. Ideally, you want to change your blades every 6 to 12 months. And check for the size you'll need before going to the store. You can find that information in the owner's manual.

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