Consumers don't have to spend a lot of money to get good windshield-wiper performance, according to the editors of Consumer Reports, but they might need to replace them every six months or so. CR tested 15 wipers and found that three of the top four were among the least expensive.

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Consumers don’t have to spend a lot of money on windshield wipers, according to Consumer Reports, but they might need to replace them every six months or so.

CR tested 15 wipers and found that three of the top four performers were among the least expensive:

• Top-rated Valeo 600 Series ($9, 18-inch; $15, 24-inch);

Anco 31 Series ($7, 18-inch; $10 24-inch);

Michelin Rainforce ($7, 18-inch; $7, 24-inch).

CR also found that all wipers it tested provided “Very Good” or “Excellent” performance when new, but most quickly degrade after six to nine months of regular use. The RainX Latitude ($17, 18-inch; $21, 24-inch) was the only wiper that began with very good performance and maintained that through six months. All others dropped in performance.

Depending on the model, that deterioration showed up on the windshield as streaking, smearing of the water (instead of clearing it) or missed areas of wiping.

The tested wipers included six beam-blade models, a relatively new design. Beam blades usually cost more than conventional wipers, but CR’s experts didn’t see a notable advantage in regular use. The beam-blade model that rated highest was the RainX Latitude.