A PSA About Windshield Wipers

wiper

How often do you think about your windshield wipers? Once a year? Once every 3 years? When you can barely see through your windshield during a particularly bad storm? Both our cars must pass state inspection in January so for me it’s once a year. I track each car’s maintenance history in a Google spreadsheet so sometime in January I open it up to see how long it’s been since wipers were changed on each car.

One of the benefits of driving a Benz is that you get lots of freebies from a dealer. As you should when dropping 40 grand on a rapidly depreciating “asset” is a minimum price of entry into this posh club… Unless you buy used of course! It doesn’t matter that our car is 12 years old with over 120,000 miles on it – they still treat us like we’re pulling up in a 2015 S-class. Obviously the dealer hopes that we’ll soon trade that old POS for a new Benz ($399 per month lease special!) or at least drop it off for expensive maintenance.

Our local dealer’s computer lights up like a Christmas tree on those rare occasions when we bring the C320 in, pushing all kinds of overdue and recommended services. Our last visit resulted in a color-coded printout with over $2,500 worth of maintenance. Even though it scares my wife to walk out with such a long laundry list of “problems” without doing anything about them, I always say “just get the car, bring it home and I’ll show you that everything they wrote up has already been done by me”. It’s all right there in a Google spreadsheet.

Couple months ago our local Benz dealer sent out an invitation for a complimentary vehicle maintenance inspection complete with food, refreshments and a few Mercedes-Benz branded trinkets such as a nice travel mug you see in this post and an ice scraper, to name a couple. While I’m pretty confident that all the maintenance is up-to-date I welcome a second opinion, especially from a highly trained Mercedes-Benz technician. They do a great job in finding problems… hmmm, I wonder why 🙂

They found a usual list of overdue maintenance items – no surprise there since my home garage doesn’t have a link up with the dealer’s computer. They also pointed out that the headlight lenses were getting dull and foggy and offered to remedy the situation for only $200.  Thanks but a 20 minute DIY using this kit will do the same at a much more reasonable cost of less than $20.

Another thing they noted was that the windshield wipers needed to be changed. This was important with the state inspection right around a corner. Bad windshield wipers are a common culprit for rejected inspection stickers being slapped on cars daily in these United States. We bring the Benz to our local dealer for state inspections because they charge $0 with a coupon posted on their website AND they provide a courtesy shuttle to/from work AND they wash the car AND they have great coffee and muffins. All free. We never got that at a Toyota dealer! But the point is – if they mentioned it now they would certainly fail the car during looming state inspection.

Lets move on to the Public Service Announcement portion of this post. If you go on any website specializing in selling OEM parts for european cars and type in “2003 Mercedes-Benz C320 windshield wipers” you will get the same specs for the manufacturer recommended fit: 24” for the driver side and 22” for the passenger side. I checked several sites where I do most of my automotive shopping and they all unanimously agreed that 22 and 24 inch wipers is what’s required for a W203 C-class.

Furthermore, if you search leading Mercedes-Benz forums like www.benzworld.org and www.mbworld.org you’ll also likely conclude that 22” and 24” is what fits.

The problem is – if you trust this information you might be disappointed when you install new wipers on your Benz. I want to make it known that if you have a W203 Mercedes-Benz C-class you might need a shorter passenger-side windshield wiper. Continue reading and see for yourself.

I’ve tried many different types of wipers on my cars – stock blades, cheap inserts, premium bracketless/frameless wiper blades (Bosch Icon etc)… After years of experimentation I’ve settled on Valeo Ultimate windshield wipers as the best value taking into consideration performance, longevity and price. I now run Valeo Ultimates on the Benz and the Mini and recommend it to anyone that cares to ask. They easily last 3 years, perform/look much better than stock and they are reasonably priced. Installation is a snap (literally) – forget messing with wiper inserts!

After doing all the research I went ahead and ordered a pair of Valeo Ultimate wipers in recommended 22 and 24 inch size. A few days later they came in the mail and I installed them… only to find the passenger side wiper jumping all over the place and making a horrible noise. Take a look:

PSA: If you are driving a W203 Mercedes-Benz and want to upgrade your wipers to a pair of Valeo Ultimates do NOT buy the recommended 22” passenger side wiper! You need Valeo Ultimate 21” windshield wiper despite everything you read on the web.

Don’t listen to Amazon – 21″ is what you want.

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The funny thing is that when I first bought a pair of Valeo wipers for the Benz 3 years ago I purchased the right size – 24” and 21”. This year I started second guessing that choice and decided to go with the specs found on the internet. Obviously that didn’t turn out too well.

I sent my little video to the seller I bought the wipers from and they said they’ll look into it. They did send me the correct 21” wiper at absolutely no cost which I thought was really nice of them!

I hope this post will bubble up in Google search results so that other people looking to replace windshield wipers on their Mercedes-Benz can see this warning and comment on their experience. I’m still wondering if it’s just the Valeo Ultimate wipers that have this issue on a C-class? If you have experience with wipers on a W203 please let me know in the comments!

If you don’t drive a Benz (I don’t blame you!) I’d still recommend looking into getting a pair of Valeo Ultimate wipers for your car. They work great on my Mini Cooper R56 (18” and 19”) and are a huge improvement over stock. Once you try a good pair of frameless wipers I doubt you’ll ever want to mess with anything else. Bosch Icon blades are excellent too but they typically sell at a higher price point.

Now – anyone needs a homeless 22” wiper blade? It’s trending on YouTube 🙂