How to Choose Windshield Wipers

Behind the wheel in rainy weather

Source | Jaromír Kavan/Unsplash

When it comes time to choose windshield wipers, the number of options available might surprise you. While wiper blades all share the same function, they don’t all do it in the same way, for the same price, or to the same level of performance. In order to help you choose the best wipers for your budget or circumstance, we’ve highlighted the three main types of windshield wiper blades below, how much you can expect to spend on them, and when they’ll perform the best.

Types of Windshield Wipers

traditional wiper blade

Traditional Wiper Blade:

The traditional wiper blade has been around for decades and is constructed of a steel frame and rubber blade. The frame itself is what attaches to the wiper arm of the vehicle and has pivoting suspension points that help keep the blade planted to the windshield.

Traditional blades can be found on most new cars and are reasonably priced—at under $10 per blade—when it comes time to replace them. Most wiper-blade manufacturers recommend replacing these blades every six months.

Beam wiper blade

Beam Wiper Blades:

If you’re looking to up your window-clearing game, you’ll want to check out the beam blade section. Most wiper-blade manufacturers offer a beam-blade option, and they certainly have their perks. Rather than having a metal structure like a traditional wiper blade, beam blades are made of a solid piece of rubber. This comes in handy when the weather gets nasty. Where snow and ice can clog up the frame and freeze a traditional wiper blade, you can simply slap a beam blade against the windshield to clear it of debris. Beam wiper blades also have a fin or spoiler along the spine of the blade that help keep the wiper placed firmly against the windshield for maximum contact, even at freeway speeds.

The price for this kind of windshield wiper is higher than traditional blades—between $15 and $30 per blade, but they generally last quite a bit longer.

Hybrid Wiper Blades:

If you like the cost savings of the traditional wiper blade but want to have the all-weather prowess of a beam blade, you’ll want to look into getting yourself a set of hybrid wiper blades. Hybrid blades are constructed like a traditional blade with a steel frame and pivoting suspension points but also have a plastic or rubber protective coating over the frame. This helps keep the cost down and provides protection against the more harsh winter elements. The cost of these blades will usually be right between that of a beam and traditional blade.

All three types of wiper blades are relatively easy to install, but your local Advance Auto Parts store will do it for you for free.

Got any wiper tips? Leave ’em in the comments.

Halloween Hacks for Getting the Gross out of Your Ride

pile of pumpkins

If you find your car covered in blood and mysterious goo this month, don’t rush to call CSI. It’s the witching hour, or—ahem—Halloween ‘season,’ and that means your vehicle has seen some action as a creepy carriage for costumed critters or as a target for cloaked pranksters. As spooky as their appearance may be, the mess they leave can be even more disturbing. Here’s a look at how to remove the Halloween from your car.

The Sarcophagus (aka Car Exterior)

If you’re a dentist giving out toothbrushes instead of candy, you’ll be looking at how to remove egg yolk from your car’s exterior, which is no simple task if the yolk has dried. Ideally, you should fix the issue while the egg is still wet. This solution only requires water and mild soap. Spray the mess down, quickly scrub with soap, rinse, and you’re done. If the egg is as dry as a mummy, it is likely stuck to the paint. Use hot, soapy water to loosen the egg, and slowly attack it with a microfiber towel. Use an automotive soap, as it is mild but effective. Silly string and shaving cream also follow the same rules, so just try and get the majority cleaned off while still wet. And, next year, remember to give out the good candy.

Some pranksters take it a bit further, writing on the windows or tires with white shoe polish. This is water resistant, so you can’t just hose it off. Automotive soap is a good bet, but so are dedicated glass cleaners or tire wash. Follow the directions, and just one application should do it.

The Guts (aka Car Interior)

The interior of your ride may need a bit more work. First, start by removing any leftover trash the ghouls leave behind. Candy wrappers and crumbs can be removed by hand, but a vacuum makes the job much faster. Use a car vacuum or the small nozzle on a shop vac to get glitter out of the carpet and crevices in the dash and between seats. This is also a great option for wigs or fur left over from transporting witches, celebrities, and werewolves.

Your presidential candidates, zombies, and princesses could also get a little loose with the colored hairspray, fake blood, or makeup on the upholstery. Use a carpet and upholstery cleaner to spray the mess, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe up using a damp cloth.

Adults are no better this time of year, as we overdress for fall weather and dump pumpkin spice into everything. When your friend spills his or her pumpkin-spice latte on your seats, it will probably leave a stain. Grab a dedicated upholstery cleaner and spray it, giving it several minutes to soak. Also use a cleaning agent with enzymes that breaks down food for the best results, and wipe with a clean cloth.

Then wrap up all your hard work with a new scented air freshener. Halloween is over, so it may be time for a winter theme.

Do you have any other tips on how to survive messy monsters? Let us know in the comments!

The Appalachian Trail: Road Trip Version

The Appalachian Trail Road Trip

The Appalachian Trail, or AT as it’s often called, is a “bucket-list” adventure for hiking enthusiasts. Hikers prepare months for the 2,100-mile journey that takes six months or more to complete. But thru-hikers aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the trail’s fall foliage, small-town charm, and country air. The trail crosses a road an average of every four miles. So we’ve compiled a handful of road trips that allow you to enjoy portions of the Appalachian Trail’s fall colors. Must-see hikes and sights along the route will give you a taste of the AT, without the blisters.

So what are you waiting for? Pour yourself a thermos of hot apple cider, don your cold-weather jacket, and head for them (color-drenched) hills.

Delaware Water Gap panorama in Autumn with colorful foliage with forest and mountain over river.

Before You Go

Here are a few tips to getting the most out of your Appalachian Trail road trip experience:

  • Gas stations are limited, so fill up your tank ahead of time and pack plenty of food and water, especially if you plan to hike.
  • You won’t be the only leaf-peeper on the road. To avoid crowds, visit on weekdays and early mornings. If you stop to enjoy the view, pull off to the side and allow other cars to pass.
  • Visit a ranger station if your route passes through a park. Grab a map to navigate in areas where cell service is spotty. Park rangers can also provide up-to-date information on which trails and roads may be closed or congested as well as sightseeing suggestions tailored to your interests.
  • To avoid crowds, visit on weekdays and early mornings.
  • Make sure your brakes are in good condition; they’ll get a workout on these mountain roads! To minimize wear and tear, consider downshifting into a lower gear before a steep descent.
  • Steep climbs can overheat your engine, so take precautions. Top off your coolant before heading out, and carry extra with you. While you drive, keep an eye on your temperature gauges. If you notice your engine is heating up, turn off the AC, and roll down your windows instead. In an extreme case, cool down your engine by running the heat on ‘high.’ When you can pull over, let your engine idle a few minutes before turning it off. Douse the radiator core in cold water if you need to, but never remove your radiator cap until the engine is cooled.

New England

Snowcapped mountains in the White Mountains National Forest in New Hampshire during the autumn foliage season. Photo taken during the peak fall foliage season. New Hampshire is one of New England's most popular fall foliage destinations bringing out some of the best foliage in the United States

The Kancamagus Highway, Conway to Lincoln, NH

Nicknamed “the Kanc” by locals, this American Scenic Byway stretches 34.5 miles along Rt. 112 in Northern New Hampshire. Drivers will enjoy some of the same scenes AT thru-hikers treasure: the White Mountains in their autumn brilliance, wildlife such as moose, and a number of accessible waterfalls. Highlights include the 45-foot Sabbaday falls, scenic vistas, and the drivable Albany covered bridge, which spans the Swift River.

Mt. Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH

The 7.6-mile Auto Road is America’s oldest man-made attraction. More than 45,000 cars chug up the Auto Road’s steep, twisting route each year. The main attraction: jaw-dropping views of the autumn colors from the 6,288-foot summit. And a “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” bumper sticker for your efforts. (fee includes bumper sticker and audio tour)

Old Mine is said to be one of the oldest continuously used roads in America, with ties to Dutch colonists from the 17th century.

Mid-Atlantic

The Old Mine Road Route, NY/NJ

The mid-Atlantic portion of the AT skirts more populated areas, but that doesn’t mean solitude and scenery aren’t available. Old Mine Road follows the Delaware River for 104 miles, from Kingston, New York through the heart of Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area’s 70,000 acres of protected land. Old Mine is said to be one of the oldest continuously used roads in America, with ties to Dutch colonists from the 17th century. A number of historic sites are dedicated to maintaining the road’s rural charm. Drivers will enjoy serene views of the Delaware River, waterfalls, and undisturbed hardwood forests.

Scenic road in the Adirondacks region of New York during the autumn foliage season

Southeast

Skyline Drive, VA

Skyline Drive winds for 105 miles atop the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. More than 75 scenic overlooks punctuate the relaxed drive along I-66 and I-64. The speed limit is 35 mph, and the drive takes around three hours. Enjoy sweeping views of the fall colors and watch for wildlife, including black bears, deer, and wild turkeys. Access Skyline Drive in Front Royal, Thornton Gap or Swift Run Gap. Don’t miss the 670-foot driving tunnel through Mary’s Rock, the 4000-foot summit view from Hawksbill Mountain, or 67-foot Rose River Falls. (entrance fee)

Pro Tip: If you plan to drive the entire parkway, give yourself several days. There are countless hikes, overlooks and cultural sights to take in along the way.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA and NC

What Skyline Drive starts, the Blue Ridge Parkway finishes, with an additional 469-miles of scenic mountain roads. Enjoy views of the hazy Blue Ridge and mist-shrouded Great Smoky mountain ranges. If you plan to drive the entire parkway, give yourself several days. There are countless hikes, overlooks and cultural sights to take in along the way. Drive the Linn Cove Viaduct, an iconic 1200-foot bridge snaking along the side of craggy Grandfather Mountain. Immerse yourself in local culture at the Blue Ridge Music and the Folk Art centers. Then stop to enjoy the 85-mile view from Mount Mitchell’s 6,684-foot summit. (no fee)

Raven Cliff Falls is a 420 foot cascade on Matthews Creek. The name comes from the Ravens that nest in the cliffs. The falls are located in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness of Greenville County South Carolina. Raven Cliff Falls Trail is an easy to moderate 2 mile hike to the observation deck. You can also take the Gum Gap Trail to Naturaland Trust trail and cross the upper section of falls on a Suspension Bridge. You can continue on this very strenuous trail into the gorge and make a 7.9 mile loop. It is a very steep and rugged trail with a crossing of Mathew Creek that can’t be crossed safely in high water. At the intersection of the Dismal trail take it back to the Raven Cliff Falls Trail to parking lot.

Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway, GA

Drivers on this scenic, 40-mile loop will be impressed with the beauty of the southernmost Appalachian Mountains. You’ll drive through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which boasts 4,784-foot Brasstown Bald. A short but steep climb from the Bald’s visitor’s center will reward visitors with 360-degree views from an observation tower. (Parking fee required.) Save time to hike to Raven Cliff Falls as well. The trail winds through mossy forest to a unique, double-cascade falls that splits a 40-foot granite cliff in two. Another popular trail is nearby 150-foot Dukes Creek Falls, which also offers views of Yonah Mountain.

Have you ever driven these routes in the fall? What memorable sights would you add to the list? Are there other scenic driving routes along the Appalachian Trail you’d recommend? Leave us a comment below.