Windshield wipers (Windscreen wipers) may seem useless in summer, but they are critical to your visibility and overall safety while driving in winter when weather conditions are poor. Your windshield wipers remove rain, snow, ice, washer fluid, water, and debris from a vehicle's front window, to ensure you can still see the road ahead.
Realizing their importance, many jurisdictions have legal requirements that vehicles be equipped with windscreen wipers, and they may be a required safety item in auto safety inspections. Some US states have a "wipers on, lights on" rule for cars, which means that if your windshield wipers are on, your headlights should be on as well.
The invention of windshield wipers is almost as old as the invention of cars.
Although American inventor Mary Anderson is popularly credited with devising the first operational windscreen wiper in 1903, some of the earliest recorded patents for the windscreen wiper goes back to 1896.
Many improvements on Anderson’s idea were made by later inventors to make windshield wipers much simpler to operate for the growing mass of automobile drivers. For instance, multiple sources report that Charlotte Bridgewood received a patent in 1917 which was titled Electric Storm Windshield Cleaner. The invention is believed to be the first automatic windshield wiper which was electrically powered.
Perhaps history’s most successful windshield wiper company is the Tri-Continental Corporation, also known as Trico. Although, Bosch is known to have the world's biggest windscreen wiper factory in Tienen, Belgium, today, Trico Products is one of the world's largest manufacturers of windscreen wipers.
How They Work?
The modern windshield wiper is made of two key parts; the first is the arm that holds the wiper’s blade and the second is the rubber blade itself. Wiper blade production depends on rubber, synthetic or natural, which is mixed with carbon black powder to give rubber its traditional black hue, strengthen it, and help it resist the elements. The arms are usually made of steel, coated with corrosion resistant paint.
In order to move back and forth across the windshield, the windshield wipers are controlled by the windshield motor. When you activate the windshield switch on your turn signal indicator or other control arm next to your steering wheel, it sends a signal to the motor and operates the wipers at different speeds and duration.
Windshield wipers operate at several different speeds. There is usually a slow and a fast setting, along with several intermittent settings.
Most cars use, windshield washer system which sprays an antifreeze window washer fluid at the windscreen using several well-positioned nozzles. This system helps remove dirt or dust from the windscreen when it is used in concert with the wiper blades to improve and expand the function of the wipers.
Windshield Wipers Systems
Windshield wipers are basically the same on every car. They have two pivot points (one on the driver’s side and one in the middle of the windshield) that work together to remove moisture. This is called the tandem system, and it provides the most coverage to clean the area of the windshield through which the driver looks out.
Other systems include the single arm system (used on Mercedes cars) in which a single arm extends and retracts as it moves, and the opposed system that has pivot points on opposite ends of the windshield, and the wipers move in the opposite direction.
Modern cars also use rain-sensing wipers. The system uses an optical sensor mounted inside the vehicle behind the rearview to detect rain sleet or snow. The sensors measure the level of reflected light over the windshield exterior surface to determine the amount of moisture present. Then it turns on the wipers to the appropriate speed
In addition to the usual front set of wipers on sedan cars, some vehicles are fitted with wipers on the back window as well. Rear-window wipers are usually found on hatchbacks, station wagons, SUVs, minivans, and other vehicles with an upright rear window that tends to collect dust, dirt, snow, etc.,
How Often Should You Change Your Wiper Blades?
Wiper blades should be replaced every year or as soon as you notice a difference in driving visibility. When wiper blades no longer make proper contact with the windshield surface, they can begin to squeak, chatter, skip, smear or streak reducing driving visibility.
On the other hand, most of the wiper arms in the market are made from metal, which means that they will usually last the life of the car. In some instances, other forces will require the wiper arm to be replaced.
Check your owner’s manual to find the correct blade size for your vehicle. It’s always worth buying the best quality blades you can afford to ensure maximum performance. After windshield wiper replacement, it’s important that you test your wipers to check that they clear the windshield as expected and don’t make any squeaking or grinding sounds.