Cheap, greedy, chiseling windshield wiper blade industry

For as long as automobiles have had windshield wipers, they’ve had replacement blades available at any relevant store, but the manufacturers have also sold mere replacement inserts as well. Not everyone is so mechanically clined that they can only replace an entire blade, not slide out the actual working part and slide in a new one, and the inserts only cost half as much as the entire assembly. Changing inserts has, in fact, been one of the basic car-maintenance tasks that a parent could help a child learn how to do in a traditional bonding experience. Besides, I’ve never been one to spend $10 when $5 and a few seconds of work would accomplish the same thing. Neither have many, many other car owners, of course.

But go into Auto Zone or Pep Boys now, looking for a new pair of Anco U22R’s for $5 to get those streaks off the familymobile windshield, and what do you find? Just blade assemblies. No refills. They aren’t sold anymore. There seems to have been a plan by all the manufacturers and retailers to make up some income by forcing us to spend $20 instead of $5 each time now. In a time of recession, we all now have to worry as well about drivers not being able to see because they couldn’t find that other unnecessary $15 in the budget. Many of us will *be * those drivers.

I agree–it’s absolute bullshit. I couldn’t believe the fact that I couldn’t find wiper blade inserts anywhere the last time I needed to change out the blades, only complete assemblies.

Is this really happening? Last time I went to my local store they had replacement inserts for the cheapest brand of blades they sell, but all the premium brands were just whole blades. I don’t remember which brand it was.

I got a pair of the cheap blades and also 1 or 2 sets of inserts this time. I’ve never changed inserts yet, but they’re so cheap I figured if I can change those often enough then they should probably work pretty well. Maybe I should have stocked up on the inserts?

You can still find inserts, they are just becoming harder to come by, which is all according to Dubya Palpatine’s plan to increase the load on our landfills…until we cry for mercy and buy an “assembly” from Halliburton… :rolleyes:

It happened this winter at Sears when I tried to get mom some blades to put on then and there. I asked for the blade refills, because you get a pair for about $5. They only had individual assemblies for $20. The thing to really piss me off was the 20 year old telling me that was the only way they ever came, while giving me the what a dumb fuck look. I so wanted to say you’re an idiot, because I’ve replaced just the blade for the last 40 years. The major point is the blade is usually the only thing that is needed and the assembly almost never needs replacing the whole time you own the car.

Did you try the web, I find all sorts of refills.

What kind of car is it?

I have to admit, I’m slightly baffled to discover that there is or ever was such a thing as a wiper blade insert. I have a car. I change my own wiper blades. It seems like the sort of thing I would have heard of.

Wiper Blade Refills There’s a picture on the page.

:mad: :mad: Oh, here we go! BIG WIPER is screwin’ over the little man yet again! :mad: :mad:

Seriously though, it’s been so long since I changed a wiper blade that I don’t even know if what I got was an insert or a full blade.

It was the change to the new “thin style” wiper blades-why the industry did this, is beyond me. The older wiper blades lasted at least a year-and they were sturdy enough that you could change the blades without beding the whole arm assembly into uselessness! Now, i find the the thin style blades last maybe 4 months-if you are lucky! And, should you attempt to replace the blades-you will most likely bend the arm-making the whole thing useless! :smack:

Unfortunately my car takes the Bosch Aero Twin only. So I’m out of luck unless I want to go to the manufacturer and get them for $100. Yes, $100. :frowning:

I feel your pain.

Maybe I’m unusually clumsy, but I’ve never successful changed a pair of wiper blades on any car I’ve owned. But actually, last time I went to Auto Zone, I had a good experience buying wiper blades – believe it or not. As you say, they only had the assemblies, not the blades themselves, but the price wasn’t that bad – ten bucks or so for the lower-quality ones, 15 or so for the better. Cheapskate that I am, I bought the low-quality ones. As I’m paying, the cashier asks, “Would you like us to install them?” and I was unmanly enough to say, “Yes, please.” So the manager comes out, wrestles with them for a few minutes, and gives up in frustration. “Wait a minute,” she says, and goes back into the store and comes out with the premium blades. These she was able to get on in seconds. When I offered to pay the difference in price, she said, “Forget it.”

Oh, and they put my new battery in for free, too.

And what do you bet that the auto parts houses who refuse to stock these cry to their local news media that “We poor brick-and-mortar stores are at a disadvantage against these sales-tax-free Internet bandits! Tax 'em into oblivion! It’s good for the economy! It’s good for the consumer!”?

Except for the PIAA brand, those are all full assemblies. Even eBay doesn’t list any refills for Anco, only the most common brand in the US.

The dealer gives me wiper blade inserts for free. This is for a BMW.

Same here. I’ve always bought the full assembly. I never realized inserts were a choice until recently.

Of course, I’ve only been driving for 10 years, so if that’s you old codgers’ idea of ‘recent’, then that might explain why…

Righto, noticed this, too – the parts guide clearly says it fits the wiper arm/attachment that your car uses, but in the practice that apparently was for the 1989 model and nobody has bothered updating; or the QC on the replacement is so poor that you got molding seams blocking slots or hinges that won’t pivot far enough to allow for insertion. Or even worse, though the attachment assembly configurations for wiper arms have been different between car brands for decades, the replacement maker will claim that they have a one-fits-all attachment… that plainly can not.

Huh. On three different cars, I’ve found replacing the entire assembly is easier than replacing just the blades. And yes, I’ve done it both ways. Not that either is particularly difficult.

On the truck I drive, you can buy a refill blade or a whole new wiper arm. The blade holding assembly is part of the arm. There is no little clip between the arm and blade assembly. I’m sure if you bought the whole wiper arm it wouldn’t include the blade either.