It’s hard to believe but before wiper blades were a thing, drivers would stop their vehicle, wipe off any rain, dirt or snow and carry on with their journey.
Way back in 1903 when Mary Anderson, who is popularly considered to be the main inventor of wiper blades, came up with the idea while riding a trolley in New York.
Thanks to visionaries like Mary Anderson, wiper blades are considered one of the most vital aspects to a drivers safety. When driving, you need to have maximum vision and your windscreen has to be clear from dirt, rain and snow. It’s rule 229 of the Highway Code and it needs to be adhered to.
What Are Silicone Wiper Blades
If you’re interested in only the best kit for your vehicle then you’ve probably heard about silicone wiper blades.
These wiper blades have a silicone rubber as opposed to traditional blades that have vulcanised rubber. Silicone coating claims to promote water beading which means using your wiper blades less when driving in light rain.
This system also allows water to roll up the windscreen when you drive at a faster speed, also meaning you use your wiper blades less.
The Pro’s And Con’s Of Silicone Coated Blades
Manufacturers claim that silicone blades can last twice as long as standard wiper blades on the market. However this is not based on the different materials used, it’s solely due to the fact that you may use your wipers less often with these installed.
These claims of durability don’t actually tie in with real world use. Silicone wiper blades are fantastic for the following conditions: light rain + high winds.
For a lot of drivers, your day to day commute in the UK will have you sat in traffic during rush hour, not moving particularly fast. If it’s raining and your vehicle isn’t moving, you end up still using your wiper blades.
Perfect For Driving At Speed
These blades are the perfect tool for someone who drives long distances everyday at speeds higher than 50mph. This is where you can take advantage of the reduced use the silicone coating promotes.
Why aren’t all wipers silicone?
It stands to reason that if silicone rubber is no worse than vulcanised rubber, and offers benefits for some drivers, why aren’t all manufacturers using silicone? The answer here is two fold.
Silicone Rubber less Resilient
The first reason is also one of durability. While a reduction in wiper blade use will of course increase wiper longevity, that isn’t the whole story. Large wiper blade manufacturers, such as Bosch, understand that silicone rubber is more prone to temperature variations. Weather extremes are the number one cause of a wiper blade failing. During cold frosts, the rubber can freeze and become brittle. In the heat of the summer sun, the rubber can perish and degrade. Silicone rubber simply doesn’t cope with these conditions as well as vulcanised rubber.
Silicone Wipers can Produce A Haze?
The second issue is one of hazing. There are cases on forums where car owners have been left with smearing or a film of haze on their windshield. This usually occurs if there is a minor crack , dent or scratch in the glass where dirt or grime has collected and the silicone brings it out. Wiper blades are supposed to improve visibility, so suddenly having a view akin to a pea soup fog can be very unnerving.
A Lack Of Available Products For Your Windscreen
Due to the above issues, wiper blade manufacturers gave up on silicone wiper blades years ago due to a lack of interest and demand. Only a handful of suppliers still produce silicone wipers, which makes finding the best choice difficult.
While these blades have a great selling point in theory, the novelty wears off after a few days. You will soon realise that you constantly need to drive fast in order for the rain to bead up the window. You often end up using your wiper blades just as much as you would if you had standard blades on your car. But for us, the hazing issue is just too worrying to warrant the risk. Visibility when driving is paramount to safety, and in our opinion anything that compromises this should generally be avoided.
This is why the biggest wiper blade manufacturers have avoided using silicone in their products. There are just too many downsides which is why traditional wiper blades are still considered the best overall.
An Alternative To Silicone Wiper Blades
We have a simple solution that has all the benefits of silicone blades, without the downsides. Choose a quality blade such as Bosch wiper blades, and apply some Rocket Butter Hydro Seal to your windscreen. One or two coats of this every 6 months will create a protective seal on your windscreen that allows the water to bead and run off with ease. It’s much more effective than a silicone wiper blade, won’t cause hazing and will actually extend the life of your wipers! A true win-win solution.
If you’re unsure on how to choose the right wiper blades for your vehicle, we’ve curated a guide to wiper blades that should help you with your decision.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wiper Blades
What Is Water Beading On A Windscreen?
Normally when water falls on the glass, it spreads across it in a film like layer. With a base silicone coating, the water is not able to spread out and therefore sits on top in the form of a small bead. The profile of the small bead means it sits up into the airflow across the screen. Combined with a lower surface area touching the glass, it simply rolls off at higher speeds.
Is Water Beading Efficient When Driving?
Silicone wiper blade manufacturers claim that water beading is much more effective when driving at high speeds (or in high winds). This is true, the water will roll of the screen and reduce the frequency of wiper use. If your driving habits involve a lot of motorway driving, you will benefit the most.
When Should Wiper Blades Be Replaced?
The accepted length of time for wiper blades is typically between 12 – 18 months. However weather conditions and individual use will affect this massively. If you get any signs of streaking, skipping, squeaking or general poor performance, it’s time to think about replacing them. You can try cleaning them with vinegar first as this sometimes restores performance and extends the usable life a little.
What Wiper Blades Fit My Car?
Not sure which wiper blade fits your car? Our car reg finder can show you what wiper blades you need.
Author: Dean Michael