Wiper blades - why cheaper is better
We had our first snow and ice in Dayton today - messy weather. Everyone (myself included) decided that today was the day to get new wiper blades. My 2005 Forester X was new to me only 2 weeks ago so there were a few additional blade matters to consider. I don't know what kind of wiper frames came with my vehicle, but the previous owner had replaced both the frames and blades with Bosch non-refillable blades of some sort - flat, aero models. They were beautiful to behold, but not not wiping the windows. Maybe they were better when new.
Blades: My favorite blades are simply standard metal frames into which you can put Anco/Federal Mogul refills. Why? They work well and they're inexpensive. Sadly, the refills are getting hard to find, but more on that below. If your present frames will not accept refills Autozone sells the standard Anco frames under their own name - about $10 for a new frame with blade.
The front of the Forester takes one 22" blade and one 18" or 19" blade. I opted for 18" since I also use 18" refills on my wife's Corolla. But a 19" frame and 19" refills are also available.
Refills: They used to be readily available at any auto parts store. But times and marketing trends have changed all that. If you can't find the correct Anco/Federal Mogul refills locally, then try Do-It-Best Hardware - search the net. This hardware chain will ship them to your nearest Do-It-Best Hardware store at no charge (probably a store near you). On their website, search for U-22R (pair of 22" refills) or U-18R (pair of 18" refills), etc. Their images and web listing titles are truly screwed up, so you will need a bit of faith to make this happen. Cost is about $7.00 delivered-to-store for a two-refill pack.
You can also find them on eBay, but Do-It-Best may well be the eBay seller - and you can't use the ship-to-store option on eBay. I've looked on Amazon and the wiper blade listings are a mess. Either the refills are not available or else the sellers have no clue as to what they are selling.
There was no "standard" Anco wiper frame for the rear. My Subaru rear blade mounting system is a pin-type arm (my front wiper arms used a hook-slot connector). However, you can simply refill the rear plastic frame that comes from Subaru. Get the appropriate length Anco refill (14" or 16" will work, although 14" refills are hard to find) to match your frame. Just use the old frame, old stainless strips and re-assemble with the new rubber blade. Works like a charm. If you have some older refills left over from that vehicle you owned in 1998, you can cut them down to 14" or 16" - easy to do - also a useful technique if you have a 14" rear pin-type frame.
What's wrong with Bosch (or Rain-X or Valeo or [fill-in-a-name]? Nothing, really. These brands are typically much more expensive and, from my experience, simply don't perform much better or last much longer than an Anco refills in a standard frame. Given the price difference, you could afford to re-fill the standard frames much more frequently and still be dollars ahead.
No matter how good the hype or evolutionary the design or revolutionary the material, the high-priced blades will probably need changing at least a two or three times a year in the midwest - more often in the northeast US. An ANCO refill every 3-4 months would provide better service for less money.
If you buy the 'high-priced' blades at your auto parts store, they'll put them on for you - good for the distaff readers or non-mechanically-inclined. It's a bit of trouble to put in refills and the auto parts store guy probably won't do that - even if he carried the refills. As for me, I don't mind the bother - and it forces me to check the vehicle for other matters as well.