With weeks of frigid temperatures behind us and likely more weeks of fridged temperatures to come, it is important to have the right wiper blades and windshield washer fluid to get the job done.
Clear visibility is the first important step in road safety and with the variety of weather conditions that Canadian drivers encounter throughout the year, it is important to maintain optimal clarity of the road ahead.
This guide will identify the best windshield washer fluids and wiper blades to use in winter, when visibility is most compromised.
Best windshield washer fluid for winter
Like most people, I used to think that all windshield washer fluid was basically the same stuff and I’d buy whatever fluid was cheap or on sale. You can get by taking this approach in warmer weather but during the winter, it is more important to use a windshield washer fluid with de-icer. This anti-freeze fluid has a high concentration of methyl alcohol that gives the mixture a low freezing temperature.
The label on the fluid jug will give a temperature rating ranging from -30C to -49C (as low as I’ve seen). The lower the temperature rating the better for not causing re-freeze when sprayed on the windshield on extremely cold days. The price difference for a standard 3.78L jug is about two dollars but it’s worth it to get the lower freeze rated product. Average price for a 3.78L jug is $3 for -30 and $5 for -49.
Two of the best windshield washer fluids for winter are:
- Reflex Windshield Washer Fluid -49
- Rain-X Windshield Washer Fluid De-Icer -45
These premium fluids remove light ice, frost and road grime to quickly restore visibility plus contain additional cleaning agents for a streak-free shine.
There are numerous less expensive windshield washer fluids that essentially do the basic job, but the fluids with the standard -30 freeze rating tend to re-freeze on your windshield on very cold days. This is not only an inconvenience when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s also dangerous to reduce visibility. If you live in a really cold climate, spend the extra few dollars and get the premium fluid.
Best windshield wiper blades
Certain automotive maintenance is critical to prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Most people understand the importance of winter tires, however replacing windshield wiper blades is often overlooked until it is visibly obvious that the wipers are no longer working effectively.
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I recommend changing your wiper blades at least once a year to maintain acceptable performance. I change my wiper blades every fall, at the same time that my winter tires are installed. I have tried a variety of aftermarket blades, some good, some bad but what I’ve found works best is to retain the original (OEM) wiper blade assembly and simply replace the rubber squeegee strip that makes contact with your windshield.
The blade refill rubbers can be purchased at new car dealerships for usually under $10 a pair. They can be tricky to replace and require a steady hand and needle nose pliers, however this is the best option when available. Most modern cars allow for wiper blade insert replacement.
There are many aftermarket wiper blades available with different designs, each having unique advantages. Conventional blades are the standard OEM style for passenger vehicles. These blades have a replaceable rubber squeegee that fits into a spring-tensioned frame assembly (or bridge). Most blades have a metal spine that supports the rubber element and runs through the ribs of the contact points. Conventional blades provide even pressure contact to the windshield and work well in all weather conditions.
The top rated conventional style blades on Consumer Reports and Canadian Tire websites are:
- Michelin RainForce
- Rain-X Weatherbeater
- Trico Exact Fit
- Reflex Hybrid Wiper Blade
- MotoMaster PreciseFit Wiper Blades
These blades are generally within five dollars (difference in price for the same size) so choose in the above order based on the fitment guide and availability for your vehicle.
Beam blades are a newer style of wiper with no external frames. The sleek low-profile design has a spring steel beam incorporated into the rubber. As a result, beam blades can provide more uniform pressure on a windshield than conventional blades, therefore providing better wiping performance. Beam blades are becoming increasingly popular as an aftermarket replacement option. With beam blades, you replace the entire wiper. There is no option to just replace the rubber squeegee as with some conventional blades.
The top rated beam style wiper blades on Consumer Reports and Canadian Tire websites are:
- Rain-X Latitude
- Bosch Icon
- Trico Force
I have tried the Bosch Icon and Trico Force and find that beam wiper blades do not preform as well as conventional blades.
Stay ahead of winter weather conditions by keeping your washer fluid reservoir topped-up with premium washer fluid (with a low -45 or better freeze rating) and changing your wiper blades every fall or when performance deteriorates. Change both blades at the same time and your rear blade if you have an SUV or minivan. Opt to keep the OEM wiper assemblies, and just replace the rubber blade inserts when possible. If changing the entire blade assembly, listen for the audible “click” to ensure that the assembly is secure to the wiper arm hook. Installing wiper blades can be tricky but it gets easier with practice and it’s an important part of maintaining clear visibility and road safety.
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