I can see clearly now the rain is (not) gone
July 6, 2020 8:41 AM   Subscribe

What are the best windshield wipers I can get for visibility in a rainstorm?

I want the best possible outcome for visibility in heavy rain. I need

1. To be able order them on Amazon prime today so they arrive in 2 days - this is important. If there is a fabulous brand that isn't available there, please tell me anyway so I can see if it's available locally in a car parts store.
2. The wipers must have obvious info online about whether they fit my specific car

I have looked at reviews so I'm looking for first hand knowledge or a review that isn't in the first 10 Google hits. I care less about factors like noise and other aesthetics, I just need to be able to see as well as possible in driving rain.
posted by nantucket to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In addition to whatever wipers you get you might want to get a bottle of Rain-X and spray it on your windshield. Clean the windshield first. It will help the rain bead off and improve visibility.
posted by bondcliff at 8:45 AM on July 6, 2020 [8 favorites]

Trico Onyx


I have no idea if these are available on Amazon, but since you're willing to go an auto parts store, I guess it's not important. I've bought them at various Auto Parts stores. If there's an Advanced Auto Parts near you, they'll install them for you.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2020

Bosch ICON and Bosch Evolution are the best windshield wipers I've used, and one or the other is consistently in stock at Amazon. Amazon will allow you to enter your car details and will tell you if it fits or not.

That said, the absolute best thing for visibility is a water repellant glass treatment. Rain-X is the easiest to find at stores, but for me, it only lasts a couple weeks. I much prefer PPG Aquapel for a treatment that will last 6 months or so for me. It has very specific application requirements that should be followed, but they are not particularly hard to follow. It's not actually sold directly to customers, so you might need to look around Amazon to find one that's in-stock with Amazon Prime. One applicator is good for one "side" of your car. I don't recommend this, but I've actually driven a bit in a car without windshield wiper blades, but only Aquapel, with no significant perceived danger.
posted by saeculorum at 8:54 AM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

+1 on the Rain-X, it makes a world of difference in heavy rain. My credentials are that I grew up in South Florida, home of the daily 2pm monsoon.

In my experience, the benefit of high-end wiper blades is that they perform better over time, not necessarily that they are much better than cheaper blades fresh out of the box.

Trico blades are OEM on a lot of cars, their website has a lookup feature and links to multiple online vendors.

posted by dudemanlives at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

In my experience, the benefit of high-end wiper blades is that they perform better over time, not necessarily that they are much better than cheaper blades fresh out of the box.

This. There are good wiper blades (Bosch in particular) but the value is in how long they stay good. A good aero profile so they stay stuck on the windscreen is important too, which is usually something the cheap ones get wrong. Never had an issue with Bosch ones.

Also STRONGLY seconding RainX or equivalent. We use that on race car windscreens and helmet visors and usually don't even use the wipers (because they scratch the plastic screens) unless we really have to. I used to rainx my road cars back when I had more time/could be bothered and in reasonable to mildly heavy rain and above 45mph it was as good as having the wipers on. So a solid set of wipers and a screen treatment to repel water is your best bet.
posted by Brockles at 9:02 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much so far! Rain X in cart!
Follow up Q: For blades: both 26" and 18" blades fit my car, same brand (Trico) - are the bigger ones just better/more comprehensive? Or are the smaller ones for passenger windows?
posted by nantucket at 9:05 AM on July 6, 2020

Nthing RainX (follow the instructions), and replacing wipers whenever they start seeming iffy. Also try to make an effort to not clear leaves, ice, snow, etc as those can get under the wipers and wear down the rubber.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:06 AM on July 6, 2020

Bosch Icon or Trico Maxx. Trico is made in USA, if that's a thing that matters to you, while Bosch's are made in China.

I like Amazon too, and they have good tools to determine what size of wipers you'll need for the car (so do the manufacturer's sites) but, if you go to a chain auto parts store, my experience has always been that either one brand or the other is currently on sale.

Nthing Rain-X, including both the windshield treatment and the wiper fluid (which seems to help with the longevity aspect).

On preview: if two sizes are listed, that generally means that there are different-sized blades for the driver- and passenger-side wipers. You might look at your car to be sure, but you probably need one of each size.
posted by box at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2020

Regarding size: the wiper on the passenger side is (almost always) smaller than that on the driver's side. Any particular car (year, make and model) requires one of each size. This is due to the design of the wiper geometry, which in turn is related to the windshield dimensions and the available room below the windshield to package the wiper assembly.
posted by notsnot at 9:23 AM on July 6, 2020

>both 26" and 18" blades fit my car

You should take a second look at the place where you found your wiper sizes, to see what those sizes are for. If you have a rear wiper, one of those sizes may be for the rear, but it is also common for the front wipers to be different sizes.

You can look it up on almost any site that makes/supplies wipers, or if you go to a physical store there will inevitably be a physical book or digital lookup device to tell you the proper size(s) for your particular year/make/model. Rain-x has one for their wipers here.
posted by yuwtze at 9:27 AM on July 6, 2020

Rain-X makes a windshield wiper fluid that works really well, IMHO.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:27 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

So apparently, the Rain-X wipers I liked so much apply Rain-X to the windshield in the first few uses!
posted by advicepig at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2020

A warning about Rain-X. It works great when first applied. However, over time the coating will wear off and your windshield will become a smeared mess making it impossible to see thru in the rain. Make sure you re-apply occasionally.

Otherwise I suggest getting a name brand wiper and replacing them when needed.
posted by tman99 at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2020

I usually trust Wirecutter for stuff like this, where I want something good but don't want to spend hours researching something like windshield wipers. Their recommendations are in line with this group's: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-windshield-wipers-for-your-car/

Also, nthing Rain X
posted by craven_morhead at 9:56 AM on July 6, 2020

one heads up is that particles from leaf blowers wreak havoc on wipers. I would get a cover if your car is usually parked near where they are being used.
posted by brujita at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2020

I don't know much about blades, but I've found Rain Clear from Glass Sciences is a better tensoionic product to bead water on your window than RainX. It lasts longer and doesn't have the smear'y degrade that RainX seems to have. It's harder to get, however, and ordering it directly from the company online now seems to be about the only way.

Where it really shines is when it's applied to sunroof, mirrors, and back windows that don't have wipers. As someone who finds wipers distracting, it also allows me to drive in misty or foggy conditions without needing the wipers on so frequently.
posted by hobu at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2020

Here are the Wirecutter recommendations.
posted by roomwithaview at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2020

Bosch for wiper blades. But as mentioned, most any blades are good at first. Couple months later, different story. I have used RainX type sprays/coatings in the past. Didn't like them personally. The water beads really well so that between wipes, the windshield is covered in distracting dots rather than being "wet". Couldn't wait for it to wear off. Maybe it was the newness of the experience but I focused too much on the dots and not enough on the road.
posted by ixipkcams at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2020

"I much prefer PPG Aquapel for a treatment that will last 6 months or so for me."

Me, too. It is very good. It smokes a little as it is being applied which is a little weird. Make sure the windshield is very clean before applying. I use a razor blade to lightly scrape the windshield and then scrub it well.

I always use whatever is the OEM wiper for the car. I've had too many problems with non-OEM blades falling off or not fitting right. Replace every 6 months or so.
posted by bz at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2020

Back when I had a car, I found the Bosch wipers to be the best that were easily available. They were a huge upgrade over the alternatives that were available at the time and would easily last a year. They'd still get torn up by ice in the winter, but that was a function of climate and the way I chose to use them, not any specific deficiency in the product.
posted by wierdo at 9:56 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Rain-X can be good but I suspect the Rain-X wiper fluid killed my wiper fluid pump. YMMV, it was on a 20 yo Jeep so maybe it was coincidence. At the same time I think it killed my partner's fluid sensor in her Subaru (much younger vehicle).

It worked well but not worth the damage.
posted by jclarkin at 10:39 AM on July 7, 2020

That's not a valid conclusion. 20 year old wiper motors are extremely likely to die on age alone and sensor failure just happens. Rain X washer fluid has worked flawlessly for about 10 years across 5 of my cars and several others i know of.

I'd be confident that the washer fluid was not at fault in either circumstance.
posted by Brockles at 10:53 AM on July 8, 2020

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