Monday, December 7, 2009

Visibility: RainEx vs. Generic Wiper Blades

I've been running an experiment with my windshield wipers. The last time I replaced them, I bought a pricey "RainEx" brand wiper for the drivers side and the "cheap like dirt" brand for the passenger side. (I bought blades on a wiper arm, not just the rubber blade insert.) I chose thusly for a few reasons. (1) the blade would work best on the arm designed for it; (2) because I really like the RainEx product for windshields - driving on a misty or snowy day is no problem if one has recently applied the juice; (3) Living in SoCal, I didn't need to upgrade to a snow-plow worthy blade, but I figured a name brand blade would last longer or work better than the cheap blade and (4) I thought about upgrading the cheap blade slightly too, but then figured I'd just test the absolute cheapest to see how low I could go.

So far, the wipers have mostly been dealing with dust and windshield washer fluid, which could scratch the hell out of any blade. I do, however, routinely wipe the blades off when I get gas. So every 2 weeks or so, I run a soapy paper towel over them to clean off any built up diesel fumes, dust or bug carapces to prevent streaking and get better squeegee action when I turn them on. It has been a relatively cool summer (what summer? the first hot day of my year happened in Alaska, FCOL) with only a couple of very hot days.

The blades are maybe 8 months old, but I rarely use them and clean them regularly, and they don't appear cracked or damaged. In the interest of fairness, the passenger side blade is a couple of inches shorter and I am not listing the pressure points per linear inch of blade because I don't remember and it's cold and raining outside so I'm not about to head back out and count the number of places at which the wiper holder pushes the blade against the window.

Results:
Dealing with dust/dew: No difference

We are having our first big rain of the season today.
Dealing with rain: No difference

In my experience, there is no difference between the $16.99 blade and the $4.95 blade. They both streak equally, leave similar residues (with dust, particularly), clear rain equally, and provide the same visibility.

I guess I had been hoping the RainEx blade would help recondition the windshield surface similar to how the RainEx fluid does, but I don't remember the packaging saying anything of the sort. RainEx is the *best*thing*ever* for rainy/drizzly weather, but counterproductive in dusty situations, so I haven't used it in forever. Maybe I should get a tiny bottle to have on hand for days like today. Because their wipers are no better than basic. And more than a little streaky.

5 comments:

Lemon Stand said...

I 'heart' Rain-ex too! Especially for the foot or so of snow we are suppose to start getting tonight. Almost as wonderful as duct tape!

Junior and Orion said...

Interesting. Meowm wonders what the difference would be in snowy/ice weather. We would say maybe she would try that experiment....but we highly doubt she would. ;)

CrankyOtter said...

LS: welcome back!
I got an email from a friend saying thanks for the post because it reminded her to Rain-ex her windshield just in time for a Boston snowstorm. I have to say, though, electrical tape has replaced duct tape as my favorite tape. It sticks well as a bandage but still comes off clean, it can flex, and be used in hot situations without sliding off (I mark my glassblowing tools with it on the 'cold' ends.)

J&O: Tell meowm that she should use rain ex and not worry so much about the blades, as long as they are in reasonable condition. And if you have bad blades, maybe wear a low cut shirt to the auto supply store and ask for assistance :)

Lance Boldt said...

Please do a follow up in six months or so. RainEx blades claim to last longer and it would be interesting to see if they do.

AutoNetTV has a short video on wiper blade replacement.

http://autonettv.com/2009/timing-belt.html

Christopher Weaver said...

Thanks for the share. I am curious, how did they hold up in the snow? Here in New York, my blades take a beating due to the extreme cold.I have been checking out these windshield wiper blades that a buddy referred me to but I am not quite sure. Ever hear of them?