Rain-X vs. Aquapel

Posted on Tuesday 11 April 2006 at 9:38 pm

As you should be familiar with my Car Care page, I have a long list of cleaning products and I’m always in search of improvements. Many cleaning products have a wide range of qualities and prices, for example cheap waxes you can get in any store, better waxes, and high-end polymers like the Zaino I use. But there was one product I had never seen a competitor for: RainX.

I have used Rain-X Glass Treatment since I first got my license and it really works as advertised. Rain flies off your windshield at highway speeds and you almost don’t even need your wipers. It is especially useful with the MINI’s steeply sloped windshield, where it doesn’t even need to be raining very hard before your view is completely blinded. RainX is cheap and available everywhere. But, it doesn’t last long. You don’t notice it disappearing but it seems to work noticeably for only the first few days after applying.

A few months ago I started to search for an alternative to RainX and found PPG Aquapel. It does the exact same thing, but advertises that it lasts six months! The very few forum discussions I found seemed to support the claim as well, so I certainly had to try it. But Aquapel is very hard to find, and can be expensive. So I decided to do a true head-to-head between the two products not only for myself but for you too. I applied Aquapel to the driver’s half of my windshield and RainX to the passenger half. I left a small strip in the middle untreated so I could compare just how much either were doing over no treatment. Then, whenever it rained and I had the chance, I took video.



Click here to download the video. [H264 MP4 3min 9.4MB]

Of course with my luck as soon as I started this experiment, we barely had any rain; in fact we had the second driest March in history! Furthermore it is hard to see the effects through the eyes of the video camera as much as the human eye. But the difference is still obvious. Aquapel outlasted the RainX and to this day continues to perform as it well as it did on day one. RainX quickly became less and less effective. On closer examination, the RainX actually is still working in the upper passenger-side corner. This shows that it’s not so much time or weather that hurts RainX but the wear of the wipers themselves. Aquapel however is not affected by wiper use.

The above photo, taken after washing the car on Day 72, shows the water beading well on the Aquapel side. Aquapel prevents the water’s surface tension from sticking and small beads of water result. The top corner of the Rain-X side does as well, but the left wiper has clearly worn off the Rain-X and the water adheres to the glass resulting in a film of water.

RainX is a liquid in a bottle that you apply with paper towels and buff off similar to car wax and is a really a 4-step application process. Aquapel only comes in single-use applicators that you crack like a glow stick, rub on, and buff off. I easily applied Aquapel to the the front and rear windshield and mirrors, and if I was more conservative might also have had enough for the side windows as well. But because both products need high wind speeds (traveling at least 40mph), they are really only effective on the windshield. They do also claim to make snow and ice harder to stick.

A single application of Aquapel costs about as much as an entire bottle of RainX, however if you applied RainX every week or two the Aquapel would still last much longer than the bottle. Aquapel is the clear winner in my book. You probably won’t find Aquapel in stores, but it is available from The Tire Rack and Amazon.com, or bulk on eBay.

Update: After eight months, the Aquapel was still going strong. read

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  1.  
    April 12, 2006 | 7:24 am
     

    So you recommend Aquapel?

  2.  
    Scottinbend
    April 12, 2006 | 9:56 am
     

    I have used Rain-X for probably 20+ years and I always get at least 4 to 6 months of use out of an application. But I don’t tend to use my wipers much cause the Rain-x works so well. How often do you strip off the old stuff before applying a new coat? You might be experiencing a build-up of old Rain-X.

    I also use the stuff on all of my side and rear window because I like how easy it is to clean them when dirty and it makes getting the ice and snow off so much easier.

    Nice write-up. I will have to check it out and do my own comparison.

  3.  
    Theo
    April 12, 2006 | 10:07 am
     

    Thanks, Josh!

    I was just about to go the Rain-x route again, but will switch to Aquapel this time. I expect that the condition of your wipers might also affect the wear on either product. New wiper blades for me!

    Theo

  4.  
    April 13, 2006 | 9:50 am
     

    Ian, yes! :)

    Scott, I am amazed you get such a long life. I’ve used Rain-X for years on many different vehicles and never seen it last long. But then again I do use the wipers–you still need to use wipers at low speeds, lighter rain, and you should still use them on the highway too!
    There’s no build up. The windshield is only a few months old and was not treated with anything previous to this test.

    Theo, my wipers are decent, they were replaced at the beginning of the winter.

  5.  
    OldRick
    April 18, 2006 | 10:34 am
     

    I too have used RainX for years, and continue to do so; to extend the life of a coat indefinitely, it is only necessary to use their washer-fluid additive. The additive is inexpensive, widely available. and makes RainX continue to work like new forever.

    I only re-apply my RainX once/year, mainly to thoroughly clean the glass, and that’s in Oregon, where our wipers get a lot of use.

  6.  
    LoclHero
    April 23, 2006 | 12:13 pm
     

    Just a quick thanks for all the effort that went into your post.

  7.  
    May 2, 2006 | 8:19 am
     

    I bought and applied Aquapel recently; it was fascinating to watch the rain bead and blow off the windshield, in diagonal lines heading to the outside from the center of the car – but as you said Josh, it doesn’t really get going till 40mph or more.

    So since you still need wipers, what is the benefit (apart from the pretty patterns!)?

  8.  
    May 2, 2006 | 8:56 pm
     

    To see better with. You can run your wipers slower, but the major benefit is during a hard rain that you normally have barely any visibility no matter how fast your wipers are going.

  9.  
    charles
    May 17, 2006 | 11:24 am
     

    Have you tried the RainMagic , it’s suppose to last a long time also…. just wondering.

  10.  
    jim
    November 1, 2006 | 1:07 am
     

    I’ve used rain-x for years, I NEVER use my wipers. I commute 80 miles one way, all freeway, and only re-apply rain-x about every month, or unless the ammonia in bird poop get it. I really enjoyed reading your article, but I don’t think the extra expense would be worth it for me. I get a year or more out of a large bottle of rain-x.

  11.  
    November 25, 2006 | 8:30 pm
     

    Growing up in Florida, I’ve used rain-x for years. A few years ago STP used to make a product that was superior to rain-x imho. It was in a container/aplicator very similar to the looks of the aquapel above. You had to bend the aplicator to break the fluid container in the handel. Then you were ready to apply it. It disapeared from the market a few years back and I was forced to use rain-x again. It sounds as if aquapel may have bought the rights to the STP product.

    Rain-x is a wonderful product but it just doesn’t seem to last if you use your wipers. I never had that complaint with the STP product. I’ll have to give the Aquapel a try.

  12.  
    eric
    December 5, 2006 | 4:29 pm
     

    I caught a reference to this comparision from whiteroofradio.com. I was wondering how you remove rain-x buildup? Once I run out of the rain-x I think i’ll switch to aquapel. I had some issues with the rain-x on my previous vehicles so I hesitate to use it on my windsheild on my MINI. However, I like it for the sides and back and use it on all of the windows of my blazer.

  13.  
    December 5, 2006 | 4:34 pm
     

    I would recommend using a glass polish (zaino, sonus, etc…see my car care page) to fully clean the glass before application; that should remove any rain-x as well.

  14.  
    bboard
    December 28, 2006 | 5:19 am
     

    Hi guys, anyone if or where you can still find STP Visionblade window treatment? found somewhere that aquapel may be the re-brand product of STP? any comments would be great!

  15.  
    leo
    January 3, 2007 | 11:50 pm
     

    you can get the same results with beech nut tobacco

  16.  
    ron
    January 19, 2007 | 2:01 pm
     

    I just applied aquapel to my MCS and the results are amazing. This morning I took it out in the good old Canadian winter, lots of snow and slush. I drove to work, mostly highway, 40 mile distance and not once did I use the washer jets. Normally, I would almost emply the washer fluid. With Aquapel I maintained a low wiper speed, and that was enough! Amzazing product, thank you for your helpful web site.
    Quebec Canada

  17.  
    tim
    March 9, 2007 | 10:38 pm
     

    Hi Guys, Very informative site. Thanks! I have glass railing around my deck, and during foggy evenings, the moisture build up on both sides of the glass, virtually eliminating the whole point of having a glass railing! Would any of you have any idea if any of the products you have been talking about would work in this more static application. I would very much appreciate any help. Sincerely, Tim.

  18.  
    mary
    September 13, 2007 | 3:45 pm
     

    here is no comparison. The aquapel is far superior to Rain-Ex. I applied it in February and it was strong through July/mid-august. Now just wearing down and I put alot of miles on my car – about 40k per year.

  19.  
    Robert
    December 16, 2007 | 5:21 pm
     

    I have been using Rain-X for several years with good results, but I will also try-out Aquapel. My main car has a windshield with a very low slope, and with a fresh application of Rain-X the rain still beads up and runs off at very low driving speeds without having to use the windshield wipers. Something that I have found is that as the car becomes older, cleaning the glass becomes critical. As one comment noted, these products work by sealing the glass surface to reduce surface tension causing the water to bead-up. As your car puts on miles, the windshield surface accumulates tiny pits resulting from the constant sand-blasting during highway driving. These micro pits fill with oil that hits the front half of your car as you roll along the highway in traffic. I have resorted to giving the glass a final cleaning with lacquer thinner (does not affect modern paint finishes) throughly working the glass surface with good paper towels. Be careful of cheap paper towels that leave a residue – those blue towels that are sold in bulk packages will make a mess of the glass. Newspaper works well, is lint free, and is used by enthusiasts in preparing their baby for a show.

  20.  
    May 29, 2008 | 2:33 pm
     

    Hi Josh,

    Thank you for the great review of our product! We are always happy to hear that customers find value in Aquapel Glass Treatment. I just wanted to let you know that we’ve updated our website and changed the URL. The new official Aquapel website is at http://www.aquapel.com. Aquapel is still affiliated with PPG Industries, just not on their corporate website anymore. Thanks again for the great review!

    Robert Frost
    Internet Marketing
    Aquapel Glass Treatment

  21.  
    Bryan
    June 17, 2008 | 8:27 pm
     

    Interesting comments on Aquapel.

    I have used Rain-X for around 20 years on helicopters. Rarely have I used my windshield wipers in flight, since they are useless above 110 mph +/- and have to be parked or they will break or worse rip off.

    I find it easy to focus through the streams and drops, though my wife hates driving with me while it is raining because I prefer not to use the windshield wipers. Windshield wipers are a crutch!

    I might try Aquapel now and see what the difference is in flight use.

  22.  
    June 28, 2008 | 1:51 pm
     

    I used to use Rain-X long ago, and had the same results as many of you – Rain-X needs frequent applications. I discovered a much better cure. When I wax my Mini (with Meguiers), I also wax all the windows. Rain and snow simply blow off, and bugs are much easier to clean off. I generally wax twice a year, and that seems to be sufficient.

  23.  
    Stephen
    April 5, 2009 | 8:44 am
     

    I saw AquaPel being sold at Costco (warehouse only). Nice review.

  24.  
    cy
    July 7, 2009 | 1:39 pm
     

    I don’t mean to sound childish or anything, but what about both, combined?!? Lay down a layer of Aquapel and top it off with some Rain-X? Might not that be the best?

  25.  
    September 21, 2009 | 12:53 pm
     

    Just a quick thanks for all the effort that went into your post.

  26.  
    WillyG
    December 13, 2009 | 3:17 pm
     

    I was just in at Pep Boys in Houston,TX and they carry both products: the RainX as well as Aquapel. Dec.12,2009

  27.  
    Ivan Todorov
    January 4, 2010 | 6:14 am
     

    Hello,
    I have a question, because I did not see anywhere to write about this – you increase the glare on the glass while driving, after treatment with this product?

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