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Old 01-02-2012, 02:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 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.
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree with everything you said. I bought my wife $45.00 worth of wiper blades for her car due to her complaining about the "cheap" blades I put on it last time. These are about 90 days old and already smearing. I begrudgingly buy the cheapest blades for my car just because I can't find refills anymore. It costs ~ $15.00 for the cheapys. I wish refills were easier to find.
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I begrudgingly buy the cheapest blades for my car just because I can't find refills anymore. It costs ~ $15.00 for the cheapys. I wish refills were easier to find.
Do-It-Best Ship-to-store is the best deal I've found on refills. The Ace hardware chain may have a similar program - not sure Virtually none of the auto parts stores in my area stock refills anymore - they're just gone, poof. They will give some BS reason (no longer made, not-cost-effective. global warming, whatever) but basically they make more money off the high-end one-piece blades or blade-frame combos. Maybe good for their business but bad for my wallet.

If you get the exact part number of the refill you need (or UPC), an auto parts store might be able to order it for you. But, do the D-I-B thing on-line and avoid the hassle.
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Old 01-04-2012, 03:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Were the Bosch's ripped? If not you can usually take a rag and some windex and just clean the edge of the blade and they work just like new. The only reason I've ever bought the expensive ones is because they take much longer to disintegrate and rip unlike the ancos which dry rotted very rapidly. Just my two cents, cheers.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Were the Bosch's ripped? If not you can usually take a rag and some windex and just clean the edge of the blade and they work just like new.
The Bosch blades didn't seem to be ripped. I did try cleaning them, which helped. But, basically, they didn't wipe the window very well. I don't know how how long they had been on the vehicle.

The Forester was new to me. My impression is that it had been meticulously maintained. My biggest complaints (hope you're sitting down for this): the wiper blades weren't working very well and the light bulb in the dash clock was loose (intermittent light ;-). Oh yes, the 12v socket (aka cigarette lighter socket) worked, but the socket mounting was broken, so the socket twisted and wiggled around.

Only the clock light remains to be fixed.


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The only reason I've ever bought the expensive ones is because they take much longer to disintegrate and rip unlike the ANCOs which dry rotted very rapidly. Just my two cents, cheers.
Yes, when the ANCO's go, they go - not much recovery. On the other hand, they will physically last 6 months or longer - and clean well for most of that time. I usually replace them 3 or 4 times a year. With a refill system, they're cheap enough to replace often. A new ANCO (or actually most any new blade/refill) is better than a somewhat aged Bosch.
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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call me silly but i'm still a fan of the subaru oem aero blades
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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call me silly but i'm still a fan of the subaru oem aero blades
Good idea. I'm sorry the first owner discarded the original blades (or at least didn't give them to me). Over the years, my experience has been that auto makers do pay attention to details and the small parts selected (like wiper blades) are pretty good choices - or at least good choices for the cost.

An owner casually discards the manufacturer's choice in favor of a 'new or improved' item, but there is frequently no improvement (or maybe negative improvement).
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Don't forget to use Rain-x in addition to your blades, and in between! I have revived the blades currently on my Forester with Rain-x. They started smearing so badly, it got downright dangerous to drive in the rain at night. I decided to try Rain-x before buying new blades, and it worked!

Wow, that sounded like a commercial...but seriously, it's good stuff. ;-)
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Don't forget to use Rain-x in addition to your blades, and in between! I have revived the blades currently on my Forester with Rain-x. They started smearing so badly, it got downright dangerous to drive in the rain at night. I decided to try Rain-x before buying new blades, and it worked!
Yup, Rain-X helps. I like their product in a bottle a lot better than their branded blades. ArmorAll also works pretty well rejuvenating tired blades. But, thanks to pollution or sunlight or global warming or crappy winter weather, wiper blades simply don't last all that long. Fixes from a bottle work for only a short period of time.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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You need "winter wiper blades" for winter. Also fold the blades up before parking over night.....prevents them freezing to the glass.
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:41 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I got almost a year out of my last pair of Icon's, before they started streaking and needed replacement.

I just replaced them with Rain-X blades, which are terrible.
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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It's not the rain or the amount of use that kills them here, it's the sun. If you've never been to FL in the summer, it's hard to explain, but it just feels like we're a little closer to the sun than everywhere else. Icons are great for Nov.-March, but after that nothing will survive.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Try being picky with a Tribecas wiper blades, none to be had from any parts store. Napa in Haines city sells refills, or did a few months ago, I have to make a trip to the dealer soon so will probably pick them up there.

I think the last set I bought for the foz were trico aero or something like that, with the plastic one piece arm, they have lasted quite some time and are still not bothering me enough to change them. Much thanks to rainx bug wash of course that stuff helps a lot.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I dont mind the cheap ones but if you dont get winter blades around here the metal frame freezes solid and wont work (NE OHIO)

of course the rest of the year winter blades suck and at highway speeds get lifted off the window by air.

I used to lift them off the window until I saw 2 kids bend the crap out of my wiper arms once on video ;(

It seems when you leave them off the window it invites people F***ing with them.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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It's not the rain or the amount of use that kills them here, it's the sun. If you've never been to FL in the summer, it's hard to explain, but it just feels like we're a little closer to the sun than everywhere else. Icons are great for Nov.-March, but after that nothing will survive.
Same in the midwest and northeast. Rain is not the problem. The problem is the sun. Air pollution doesn't help either. If it rained all the time, your wiper blades would probably last longer.

As you drive down the dry road, your windscreen gets covered with minute crud, bugs, etc. The first time you use your wipers when it's raining, you might as well be wiping over sandpaper. This phenomenon is particularly acute for the rear wiper blade - the rear Forester window being a certified a crud magnet.
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