Are Windshield Wipers Universal? Types, Uses, & FAQ
Windshield wipers are an essential part of any vehicle and are designed to keep your windshield clean and clear in all types of weather. But did you know that there is no such thing as a “universal” windshield wiper? That’s right—each vehicle has its own specific size and type of wiper blade that is required for proper function.
Cars come in all shapes and sizes from SUVs to sports cars, all with varying windscreen sizes. This means the windshield wiper blades differ to correspond with a given car model.
In this article, we will take an all-around look at windshield wipers and point out why they can’t be universal. We will consider several factors, including the size of the wipers, the materials used, and the types of windshields.
Understanding Windshield Wipers
Whenever you watch car enthusiast discussions and motor car shows, wipers are rarely a part of the reviews. In fact, wiper blades may go unnoticed even by the car owner until they are worn out and ineffective in certain conditions.
The truth is, wipers are crucial and will require a certain level of awareness. These days, there are a vast variety of wipers to choose from, and simply going into an auto shop and getting a windshield wiper will not make the cut.
Let’s look at different kinds of windshield wipers and where they are most useful.
Different Kinds of Wiper Blades
There is a variety of windshield wipers, all made for different functionalities. The blades are made from different materials, too.
Here are some of the most common types of windshield wipers:
- Standard Windshield Wiper Blades: These are some of the most common types of windshield wipers you find on a car’s windscreen. They are usually attached with a hook-arm fitting. They are coated with halogen-hardened rubber and squeegees which wipe off the windscreen.
- Flat Windshield Wipers: These have a slim design and come with rubber-coated and tensioned metal strips. They have the advantage of having a slim, aerodynamic design that provides the best kind of wiping experience for a curved windscreen.
The metal strips provide sturdy support for the wiper and continuous pressure on the windscreen, which reduces any obstruction to the field of view.
They do not come with hook fittings. Rather, they will utilize a side-pin bayonet or pinch tab connection.
- Spoiler Windshield Wipers: These come with a spoiler that will run the entire blade length at a higher speed while cleaning the windscreen, providing a more efficient output. They are mainly designed for the driver side of the windscreen and are mostly connected through a hook-shaped fitting.
- Hybrid Windshield Wipers: Hybrid wiper blades are created by combining both an aerodynamic wiper and flat wipers, which enable a smooth flow of the wipers.
- Specific Fit Wipers: Certain vehicles will require unique windshield wipers. This is where specific fit wipers come in. They are made for a specific kind of vehicle and will not fit in most other vehicles.
- Rubber Refills: Rather than replacing an entire wiper, you can use a rubber fill, which is a low-cost protective rubber that can be added as a protection measure to the worn-out wiper.
- Premium Style Wipers: These are the more expensive types of wiper blades, which begs the question, are they worth it? Experts argue that cheaper wipers use a metal framework enclosed in a rubber casing, which poses the danger of scratching the windshield if the rubber wears off.
On the other hand, premium wipers come with a one-piece design that makes them fit well over the windscreen, providing a better wiping experience.
Different Types of Wiper Blade Connections
An important factor to note is that different wipers come with different connections, which include:
- Top lock
- Push tab
- Pinch tab
They typically work so that you either slide hook or clip them onto the wiper arm, depending on the kind of connection.
Silicone Wipers vs. Rubber Wipers
As seen, most wipers are made with rubber outer coverings. However, silicone wipers are growing in popularity due to the durability they bring over rubber wipers.
Different Kinds of Silicone Wipers
There are three main kinds of silicone wipers, which are influenced by design and frame construction. They include:
- Conventional Silicone Wipers: These are more like traditional rubber wipers as they come with a steel interior and a silicone exterior. They also have at least three or four blade claws that aid in attaching properly to the windshield.
- Beam Silicone Wipers: These are frameless wiper blades made of rigid silicone. They can be traced back to the 2000s and were first introduced in luxury vehicles. They do not have any metal claws, and this makes them more flexible and efficient in attaching to the windshield curvature.
- Hybrid Silicone Wipers: Hybrid silicone wipers combine both the traditional metal breaks that provide studier support and the curved style of the beam silicon wiper that allows them to attach better to the windshield’s curvature.
Advantages of Silicone Wipers
There are a couple of pros and cons associated with rubber and silicone wipers.
- In the case of silicon wipers, some of the advantages include the service span, which often doubles that of rubber blades.
- Silicon blades are also more efficient, especially while driving during heavy rain and at higher speeds.
- During drizzles where there is little moisture on the windscreen, there is often a problem with hazing where the dust chips and dirt accumulate on the windshields.
Advantages of Rubber Wipers
On the other hand, there are certain areas where rubber wipers thrive and still make them the most preferred option today. Some of these include:
- The cost of purchase and production, which falls way lower than silicone wipers.
- Demand is another factor. People will mostly go for what they are used to as opposed to a newer option in the market.
Choosing the Right Kind of Wiper Blades
Wiper blades will operate in a semicircular fashion and will always leave a particular spot on the windscreen un-wiped. This does not mean that you should get a bigger wiper.
Windshield wipers are mostly vehicle-specific, with some vehicles having different sizes of wipers for the passenger and driver side, while others have similar wipers for both.
Replacing your wipers with larger wipers will have the effect of hanging wipers on the side of the windscreen or hitting the top of the windscreen while in a vertical position. They also have the effect of having premature wear on the wiper blades and hitting each other while wiping the windscreen.
If you replace the wipers with smaller wipers, you may have bigger spots on the windscreen that will remain un-wiped. Always check the car’s manual and follow manufacturers’ advice to ensure you have the correct size of the wiper.
Fitting Windshield Wipers
Having understood how wiper connections work and the different kinds of connections, here is how you can easily fit new wipers onto your car windshield:
- Ensure that the purchased wiper is similar in length to the one on the car.
- Lift the wiper arm and place something like a cardboard underneath
- Identify the type of connection the wiper uses
- Attach the new clip to the new wiper and check how the old clip was attached to the old wiper.
- Remove the old blade and attach the new one like it was previously attached.
- Lower the arm to the window and you are ready to go.
FAQs: Universal Windshield Wipers
How much does windshield wiper replacement cost?
There is a huge variety of wipers available at different prices. It will cost anywhere between $23–$38 to purchase a new wiper, with labor costs estimated to be between $8–$12. Parts that may be required, such as the hook, will cost you between $15–$26.
How do you take care of your wipers and windscreen?
Windshield wipers may not be as costly, but still, you have to take good care of them so that you don’t have to do replacements too often. You can change them at least once annually.
Physically remove snow and ice from the windscreen and wipers before you start operating the wipers. De-icer solution is efficient in reducing wiper frost.
Remember to use quality washer fluid, preferably with antifreeze, and ensure you clean and polish the windshield. Also, clean the wiper blades occasionally.
Although there are no universal wipers, you may have heard about uni-fit wipers. These were mainly for older cars, which used several mounting adapters to connect to different cars. They rarely considered the fitting or aesthetics of the wipers and have since gone off the market.
Otherwise, once you know the size and type of blade that you need, you can then select the right blade for your car from the available options at your auto parts store. If you’re not sure which wiper blades are right for your car or if you have any other questions about windshield wipers, be sure to consult with your local auto parts store or mechanic. They will be able to help you select the right blades for your car and can even install them for you if needed.
Featured Image Credit: max tokarev, Unsplash