If you have lived in Southern California for the past 40 years, you may have noticed that windshield wiper blades don’t seem to last as long as they used to. It seems like every time it rains and when you go to use your windshield wipers, the blade rubber separates leaving you with poor wiping results.

And it’s a real bummer because we NEVER use windshield wipers, so the one time you actually need them, they’re already toast. What’s going on? Why is this happening? And what are the best wiper blades on the market? Well, in this post we’re going to try to find out.

Why Don’t Windshield Wiper Blades Last Long in Southern California?

hot day in southern Californi

Heat & Sunlight (is it getting hotter?)

The weather in Southern California is getting hotter and sunnier. You may think, “SoCal is always hot and sunny!”. Well, that’s not necessarily true. We used to have this thing called the “Marine Layer”. During the morning, a low cloud phenomenon would settle over coastal SoCal and keep many cities a lot cooler.

By the afternoon, the marine layer would “burn off”, exposing everyone to direct sunlight and blue skies. But lately, we’re getting fewer days with marine layer, meaning more direct sunlight on our wiper blades.

Additionally, overall temperatures locally are increasing year after year. Whether this is because of man-made climate change or just local changes in weather for whatever reason, the data shows it’s getting warmer on this particular spot of the globe:

Southern California 3 degree temperature increase past century

Source: EPA.gov

Increased air, ship and vehicle traffic

Even though smog has gotten a lot better in Southern California, the amount of exhaust from machinery and vehicles has increased. In the 1950s and 1960s the air quality in Los Angeles was terrible. You couldn’t see more than two miles on completely sunny days sometimes. Your throat would tickle breathing in the horrible local air.

Thankfully, the region’s regulators banned the incineration of garbage and efforts to reduce NOX (nitrogen-based emissions responsible for brownish smog) from vehicles were put in place. By the 1990s, the air quality had cleaned up a lot in Southern California – and you could see the results!

However, Southern California continued to grow and the population increased. As well as the travel industry and global shipping. These days we have more planes in the skies, ships at the ports and vehicles on the road in SoCal. All of this put a lot more exhaust in the air and that exhaust reacts with the materials that make up our wiper blades. The reaction causes a quicker deterioration of the wiper blade material, causing it to shear and split.

Cheaper material quality (possible)

“They just don’t make things like they used to..”

As with many products out there, there’s a profit-driving motive to keep costs down. That can mean auto parts companies choose to use cheaper materials, less material, or resort to other shortcuts. We really don’t have a way to prove this is happening, but we do entertain the idea as a possibility. But remember that 1969 Nova still cruising around on its first automatic transmission? Yeah, they certainly don’t make automatic transmissions like they used to do they?

What Are The Best Windshield Wiper Blades?

Well, that’s what we wanted to know as well. We have three ways we sourced this information. The first is from our own team’s experience. The second is just by thoroughly scouring reviews. And the third way is to ask other windshield techs from around the country.

What does Alfa Auto Glass recommend?

We prefer Bosch. We’re not paid to say this and we have no relationship with Bosch. But after working on windshields and windshield related parts since 1988, this is the brand we trust the most.

Amazon.com Reviews of Windshield Wiper Blades

You’d think this would be the end-all, be-all way to determine this answer. It’s a bit trickier than you think. Here’s what we found:

Bosch, Trico, Goodyear and Denso all came in with the highest-rated windshield wiper blades at 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Now, for Bosch, this rating only applies to five of their models. Bosch has dozens of models on Amazon (maybe hundreds), so if we look at every single one of their models, their overall rating may be lower than 4.8.

Here are the top Bosch windshield wiper blade models:

Trico, Goodyear and Denso all had one model each that were rated at 4.8 out of 5 stars:

Auto Zone Reviews

Without naming any names, there is a brand that both ranks at the top of the list with a perfect 5-star rating for a particular model of wiper blades and then comes in near dead last with a 1-star rating for another model they produce. With that said, we looked at models with lots of reviews and high ratings. Here are all the models listed on the AutoZone website that had over 4.8 stars and at least 50 reviews:

  • Bosch Icon 28in – 4.9 (78 reviews)
  • Bosch Envision 21in – 4.9 (57 reviews)
  • Bosch SnowDriver 18in – 4.8 (83 reviews)
  • Duralast Flex 15in – 4.9 (79 reviews)
  • Duralast Flex 14in – 4.8 (71 reviews)
  • Rain X Quantum 16in – 4.8 (54 reviews)
  • Rain X AdvantEdge 21in – 4.8 (95 reviews)
  • Rain X AvantEdge 18in – 4.8 (121 reviews)

What do other windshield repair companies think?

We asked other windshield repair businesses around the United States what they thought were the best windshield wiper blade brands. Here’s a tally from the responses we got:

  • AC Delco Gold: I
  • Bosch: III
  • Goodyear: I
  • Napa: I
  • Rain X: II
  • Trico: I

One of the technicians said: “I typically buy Bosch, but the dry desert air doesn’t allow wipers to survive very long here. Six months is about the longest life I’ve seen from wipers in Arizona.”

What can you do to improve the life of your blades?

This article mentions that you can use a tiny amount of ArmorAll to improve the performance of your blades. The author stresses to not spray it on your windshield because it will fog / muck up your visibility.

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Image Credits: Featured Image, Palm Tree Scene