Windshield wipers have come a long way since they were first patented in 1903. (That first design was a lever-operated system the driver had to manually crank. Not all that effective, but probably a great workout.)
Today, we have two types of wiper blades: standard blades and beam blades with plenty of technology bundled into both. Standard blades are the ones most of us are used to. They have quite a few exposed and moving parts. Beam blades, on the other hand, have fewer moving parts and provide a much more contemporary look. They’re also more aerodynamic and provide consistent, full coverage on your windshield. It’s no surprise that almost 70% of new cars come equipped with beam blades these days.
That’s not to say there aren’t quality standard blades and poorly made beam blades—you’re likely going to get what you pay for. But, by and large, the beam blade is less affected by high winds and gives you better all-weather performance—it’s just a better design. And on America’s roads, that little edge can be huge: 23% of the almost 6 million car accidents in the US are caused by poor visibility.
In the Midwest, where your wipers are likely to experience plenty of heat and bitter cold, you should consider changing your blades twice a year. Also, blades tend to show signs of wear before they fail. If your blades leave streaks on your windshield, or “skitter” over the glass, get some replacements. If you see any damage to the rubber that contacts your windshield, or any signs of damage to the wiper’s structure, replace them immediately.
Visibility can be the difference between a safe ride and an accident. Luckily, wiper blades have developed into technology-packed parts that make your car safer every time you hit the road.