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Probably not as you may have to buy new ones more frequently as they might not last as long. A pair of Bosch blades will most likely last longer and do a better job of clearing your screen than a set of 'value' ones.
Experts say to wash any dirt and grit off them and wipe the blades with a little windscreen washer fluid on a cloth. Don't be tempted to use chemical detergents, petrol, white spirit, etc. as these may damage the rubbers. Washing up liquid is not recommended either as allegedly it contains salts that can cause damage. And, don't put it in your car washer fluid reservoir for the same reasons (plus you could end up with bubbles coming out of your washer jets!).
Lift the wiper blade away from the screen (holding the wiper arm firmly so it doesn't spring back and whack the glass and damage it). Examine the condition of the rubber blade edge and look for any damage, distortion or brittle bits. If you find any then renew your blades as soon as possible. Check your screen washers and washer fluid reservoir at the same time.
Check them regularly is the simple answer as they will start to deteriorate from the moment you fit them. Reckon on having to replace them every six month - more often if you do high mileage or the weather or road conditions are particularly unfavourable. Test your washer jets regularly too.
Problems you may encounter include screeching, scraping, chatter, lift, smearing and juddering. Some of the causes are listed on our page "is it time for new windscreen wipers?"
It depends what type you need and where you buy them. You can save money by fitting them yourself (or buy them from Autoglass® who will fit them for free). See our page on buying windscreen wiper blades for more information.
Obviously, the size you need depends on your vehicle but generally they will be between 13 and 28 inches in length. See what it says in your vehicle's handbook or manual. Alternatively get a tape or ruler and measure the blades (measure each one as some cars have different lengths - the driver's side is usually longest).
On the whole yes. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself then you can get them fitted; in the UK Halfords charge for fitting but Autoglass® fit for free at their branches.
Apparently they were invented in 1903 by J H Apjohn. For more information see Wikipedia's article on the history of wipers.
The first intermittent ones were produced in 1969 and in 1970 Saab introduced headlight wash-wipe.
Generally, it's not a good idea to use your wipers on a dry screen to remove debris. Using the washer jets allows the blades to glide smoothly across the screen rather than juddering over the dry glass, prolonging their life. So make sure your screen washer fluid reservoir is kept topped up.
Wipers are meant for clearing your windscreen of water - not for removing frost and ice. Scraping the blade rubbers over a frosty or icy screen may damage them. And if the wipers are frozen to the screen when you try to operate them your vehicle may well blow a fuse and you might have to call the RAC or AA to get you going. Buy a container of de-icer and an ice-scraper and take the time to make sure your screen is clear before you drive off.