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3 Types of Windshield Wipers

Man with gloves holding a windshield wiper.

While there are many styles of windshield wipers, there are only three types. Those are winter, hinged and hingeless blades.

They come in many shapes and prices and are not one-size-fits-all. Consulting with an auto pro or your vehicle manual when you need to change your wiper will save you lots of headaches or store returns.

When it comes to highly visible parts, windshield wipers are among the few that can be changed by the average driver. The ability to see clearly while driving is dependent on being able to wipe the windscreen clean of precipitation, ice, dust, pollen, and other particles. 

For the same reason that lighting and ventilation systems are essential for safe driving at night, windshield wipers are essential for your safety during the day, as lack of visibility is a leading cause of road accidents.

Types of Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they always have one important feature: the rubber tip that comes in contact with the windscreen.

Because of its pliability and softness, the rubber’s edge is easily damaged by use or the elements. Manufacturers have created a variety of wiper blade types for various uses, such as:

1. Conventional Hinged Windshield Wipers

Sea Dog Windshield Wiper Componnents, wiper blade 14in hinge type

Most vehicles have conventional, hinged wiper blades installed. A thin forged metal frame with several pivots is used. 

The frame presses the rubber wiper edge against the glass, and the hinges let it follow the shape of the pane. Wiper blades with hinges have been around for a long time and are a good all-around option for the budget-conscious consumer. 

In colder climates, the accumulation of ice on the metal frame might prevent the rubber edge from making contact with the window, reducing its effectiveness. For them to be of any use during the winter, they must be frequently cleaned.

2. No-Hinge Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades without a hinge are highly recommended. The wiper blade’s framework comprises flexible plastic rather than a rigid metal frame. This implies less area for snow and ice to accumulate on, and greater flexibility thanks to the lack of hinges. 

To clean the glass, a rubber blade edge is still used. As a premium product, hingeless wiper blades often cost more than their conventional counterparts.

3. Windshield Wipers for Winter UseTRICO Ice 35-220 Extreme Weather Winter Wiper Blade - 22"

Wiper blades designed for wintertime are functionally identical to conventional hinged blades. They have a metal structure and a rubberized edge, but the whole thing is covered by a thin rubberized boot. 

Because of this, the windshield wiper is protected from the accumulation of ice and snow and can continue to function as a hinged device. Winter wiper blades perform admirably in the cold, but the rubber boot quickly deteriorates and tears or cracks in the heat of summer.

The Various Windshield Wiper Styles 

Traditional, flat, and hybrid wiper blades are the three most common options. Standard windshield wipers can be swapped out for more efficient and aesthetically pleasing flat or hybrid wipers. Note that traditional windshield wipers will not fit vehicles that come with flat wipers.

Spoiler Style Windshield Wipers 

MTEC Sports Wing Windshield Wiper Blade STI Blue Color … (22 Inch)

These wipers have a spoiler that extends the entire length of the blade, called a Full Spoiler. This feature is typically reserved for the driver’s side and works to keep the blade closer to the windshield at faster speeds. The same hook-shaped wiper arm fitting is typically used to attach them to the car.

Retrofit Flat Windshield Wipers

Caterpillar Clarity Premium Performance All Season Replacement Windshield Wiper Blades for Car Truck Van SUV (28 Inches (1 Piece))

Flat wiper blades, which are more modern in design and technology, are quickly becoming industry standards. There is no metal “coat hanger” frame on these wiper blades. Instead, a metal strip is tensioned and embedded within the wiper blade’s rubber.

To lessen the roar of the wind, this plan has an aerodynamic form that is flatter. The blade’s interior metal strip exerts a steady force down its length, acting as a spoiler. Due to its reduced size compared to a standard wiper, it creates less of a distraction for the driver.

Hybrid Windshield Wipers

Windshield Wipers Hybrid Wiper Blades 24" 17" All Weather Blades for U/J Hook Exactly Fit Original Equipment Wipers Replacement(2 Pairs)

Hybrid wipers are a cross between a regular wiper and a flat blade design, making them both more efficient and more robust.

The wiper blade’s aerodynamic “skin” is an articulated plastic frame. Because of this, the downforce is distributed uniformly down the length of the blade and the airflow is improved. 

Located beneath this outer covering is a steel framework, which gives the rubber wiping component a firm base to operate from. This clever construction allows the entire wiper to conform to the windshield, resulting in a quiet, smooth, and effective wiping motion.

The Flat Windshield Wipers

Trico Heavy Duty Blade - Flat 15 Inch

Flat wiper blades, which are more modern in design and technology, are quickly becoming industry standards. There is no metal “coat hanger” frame on these wiper blades. Instead, a metal strip is tensioned and embedded within the wiper blade’s rubber. 

To lessen the roar of the wind, this plan has an aerodynamic form that is flatter. The blade’s interior metal strip exerts a steady force down its length, acting as a spoiler. Due to its reduced size compared to a standard wiper, it creates less of a distraction for the driver.

If your car came with flat wiper blades, you can only get a replacement that has the same shape. They won’t be compatible with wiper arms that have a “hook” design. Slider, push button, pinch tab, bayonet, and side pin fittings are the most common types of wiper arm hardware for flat wiper blades.

After entering your vehicle information into our search engine, please double-check that the depicted fitment is compatible with the wiper blades you are replacing.

Original Equipment Replacement Wipers

Bosch Automotive Rear Wiper Blade H354 /3397011433 Original Equipment Replacement- 14 (Pack of 1), Black

Original Equipment Replacement (OER) wiper blades, often known as “Specific Fit” blades, are engineered to precisely fit a given vehicle. This style of a wiper blade is the only suitable replacement for many rear blades due to their specific design. 

Twin Packs are available at many auto parts stores for the front ends of automobiles that call for specialized wipers, spoilers, or adaptors due to their design. Depending on your vehicle, the range of windshield wiper blades available to you may include both conventional and flat types.

Must You Replace the Entire Windshield Wiper? 

Rubber refills for wiper blades are sold separately and are intended to be used in place of worn-out rubber. Even while replacing just the refill is a cheaper option, it’s usually much simpler, quicker, and yields better results to replace the entire wiper blade.

Avoid frequent refilling as it weakens the wiper blade’s frame. The new Flat wiper blade requires a different sort of refill, and these are not compatible with it.

To What Extent Do Windshield Wipers Need To Be Replaced?

A hand in white gloves holding a windshield wiper.

Getting new windshield wipers involves more than just selecting a pair and installing them. In choosing a wiper, it’s important to think about the size, shape, and qualities of the blade.

Read on for an explanation of why the size of your wipers matters and a rundown of the many parts, types, and styles available. New developments in wiper technology and its potential future are also discussed.

Hardware for windscreen wipers

To function, a windshield wiper requires the following components:

  • The arm that wipes the windshield is often metal. The arm connects the wiper’s motor to the blade itself, allowing the blade to move.
  • Wiper blade connectors are what attach the blade to the wiper arm. If you want your wiper to function quietly and effectively, you need to utilize the correct type of connector.
  • The rubber blade is kept under continual pressure and consistent wiping action by spring flexors located either inside or outside the blade. 

To ensure a snug fit between the blade and windscreen, the spring flexors are contoured to match the shape of your windshield.

  • The rubber component, whether it is natural or chloroprene rubber, allows the blade to adapt to the varying angles it encounters after each stroke across the windshield. 

The rubber part that touches the glass has been given a unique coating to curtail friction, and the right molded shape ensures a smooth change of angle as the wiper moves up and down the windscreen.

  • Attached to the windshield wiper on the driver’s side, the spoiler decreases wind resistance and increases aerodynamic efficiency at high speeds.
  • Rubber is the most wear-prone component here. Rubber, especially, degrades even when not in use because of exposure to the light and weather.

Windshield Wiper Size Variations

Windshield wipers come in a variety of shapes and sizes in addition to numerous designs and patterns. Choosing blades that are excessively long will cause them to collide with each other or fly out of the window. 

In addition, if your windshield wiper blades are too short, you won’t be able to get a good clean and could endanger your visibility and safety. If you’re not sure what size windshield wipers will fit your automobile, it’s a good idea to take measurements or look in the manual.

Finding The Best Blade For Your Car

Woman's hand holding a wiper on car.

Choosing the best blades for your car can be done in a few different ways:

The Vehicle Manual

You may find the recommended brand and size of windshield wipers, as well as instructions on how to replace them, in your car’s manual. Pay close attention to the specifications before purchasing new blades for your vehicle’s windshield wipers, as the driver’s and passenger’s sides may have distinct requirements.

Get the Right Size Blades the First Time with a little help from your friends’ online or offline tools like the wiper selection on this page, or the books and touchpad systems at your neighborhood parts store.

Consult a Technician

If you are unsure about something, it is best to discuss it with someone who has extensive experience working on vehicles similar to yours, such as a licensed mechanic.

Can You Replace a Wiper With a Different Type?

You can usually replace one type of windshield wiper with another because they all attach to the wiper arms in similar ways. They can be bracketed or J-Hook-mountable, or even supplied with their adapters. 

Beam-style windshield wipers are a common replacement for vehicles that come with steel-frame wipers. You may find handy wiper replacement guide books at most auto parts stores to help you determine which ones will fit your vehicle.

How Often Should We Replace Our  Wiper Blades?

A man's hand holding a windshield wiper on car.

Wiper blades should be replaced every six to twelve months. Rubber, the material used to make windshield wipers, degrades with time, reducing its efficiency. Checking your wipers regularly and being aware of the warning signals of wiper blade wear is essential. 

Wiper blades can break down through normal use, wear and tear, UV radiation, and even the washing fluid you use. Over time, they might dry out, fracture, and even tear.

There are a few telltale symptoms that your windshield wipers are on their last legs. Your windshield wipers are squeaking, cracking, and creating streaks.

  • The rubber on the wiper blade has hardened and fractured from prolonged exposure, as shown by the presence of streaks. UV rays from the sun, tree sap, and road tar/road grit are all potential hazards. After repeated swiping, streaks and ringing from water retention grow more pronounced.
  • Wear and tear on the wiper edge have made it rounder, resulting in water smearing across the windshield and reducing visibility.
  • The deteriorated rubber on the blade makes a squeaking sound as it scrapes the windshield.
  • A clattering sound made by blades that skip and vibrate as they move across the windshield, caused by extremes of temperature over time or long years of disuse.

Also, keep in mind that you should never fill your windshield washer reservoirs with dish soap.

Dishwashing detergents and other surfactants are harmful to windshield wipers because they contain salt, which corrodes the metal parts of the wiper arms and destroys the rubber blades. Never use anything but a washing system addition that has been officially sanctioned.

Variations in Cost of Wipers

Windshield wiper on white isolated background.

Just like there is a price difference between brand-name and generic cereal at the grocery store, there is a pricing difference between large, well-known brands and smaller, generic store brands.

Wiper blades with built-in rain repellents like Rain-X, all-season wipers that combine some of the winter style elements, and special “aerodynamic” blades that supposedly assist fuel economy are just a few examples of the increasing number of varieties on the market.

When properly installed and maintained, any of these will remove dirt and grime from your car’s windshield.

If You’re Going To Buy Wipers, How Much Money Should You Spend?

Depending on your situation and budget, you may want to spring for beam-style or winter blades for your car. It’s a good idea to get winter blades every year at the start of winter if you live in the snow belt. It all comes down to personal preference when it comes to beam-style blades.

It’s safe to assume that the cheaper blades, when brand new, will perform just as good a job of cleaning your car’s windshield as the more expensive ones.

Similar considerations apply when choosing between generic and name-brand windshield wipers. Keeping your blades clean will have a greater impact on noise, streaking, and cleaning ability than the material they are constructed of.