5 Facts You Might Not Know About Windshield Wipers

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Like many simple but essential inventions, windshield wipers are easy to overlook. You probably only devote thinking time to your own windshield wipers when they aren’t working exactly right. Gain an appreciation for this important car part as you read the five facts below.
1. Several Inventors Devised Early Windshield WipersThe famous Model T Ford first drove on American roadways in late 1908, quickly leading many Americans to purchase and drive their very own automobiles. But it may surprise you to learn that the invention of the windshield wiper predates the Model T by five years. The year was 1903, and at least three separate inventors received patents for devices that can only be described as windshield wipers.One of these inventors was Mary Anderson. During a trip to New York City, she noticed that the trolley driver poked his head out the window during heavy snow so he could see. Inspired to solve the problem, Anderson devised a lever that allowed the driver inside the car to wipe the outside of the windshield.

However, because cars were still not in high demand for consumers, Anderson could not find a company interested in manufacturing her invention and attaching it to vehicles. Once cars rose in popularity and increased in speed, windshield wipers became essential.

2. Blinking Eyelids Inspired the Intermittent Windshield Wiper

Another important date in windshield wiper history occurred around 1962. In that year, engineering professor Robert Kearns demonstrated his version of the intermittent windshield wiper to car designers at Ford Motor Company. Instead of constantly wiping across the windshield when activated, these wipers could pause for short intervals between wipes without prompting from the driver.

Kearns said his invention was inspired by humans’ own blinking eyelids-and his own eye injury. A stray champagne cork struck him in the eye, eventually rendering that eye basically blind. Because of the eye problem, he struggled to drive in inclement weather. But he realized he could mimic the blinking patterns of the eye with windshield wipers, giving drivers several speed options to match the severity of the weather outdoors.

3. Today’s Vehicles Feature Several Wiper Configurations

Think about how your car’s wipers swipe across your windshield. On most cars, two blades rest parallel to each other and swipe up and down in the same direction. A less popular alternative also features two blades, but both rest in the middle of the windshield and wipe in opposite directions before returning to the center.

Even more rarely, you may find vehicles with two wiper blades that rest in a vertical position on the sides of the windshield. Some cars even have only one long wiper blade that cleans most of the windshield with a single swipe.

4. You Should Change Most Wiper Blades 1-2 Times a Year

It’s pretty simple to identify when your car’s wiper blades are past their prime because the signs are hard to ignore. The wipers make scraping noises when you use them. They leave streaks on the windshield. Or the rubber on the blades has obvious signs of fraying and cracking.

However, even when they notice these wiper blade problems, many drivers avoid replacing them-or simply forget to perform that car maintenance task. Typical wiper blades should be replaced once or twice a year, based on the following factors:

  • Weather. Extremely sunny conditions can wear down rubber and cause it to crack. Freezing winter temperatures can also age wiper blades, so in cold regions it’s wise to replace blades in late fall and early spring.
  • Blade material. Rubber wiper blades are usually the cheapest, but they also wear out fastest. Blades made from stronger materials, such as silicone or halogen-hardened rubber, may last over a year.

Anytime you replace your wiper blades, replace all of them, including rear wiper blades if your car has them. A windshield professional can recommend an optimal blade for your car and install it for you if you don’t know how.

5. Some Basic Maintenance Can Extend the Life of Your Wiper Blades

In addition to replacing your blades on a regular schedule, you can protect them by performing a few simple tasks. First, clean your windshield when you fill up your gas tank. Also wipe down the blades with a towel or paper towel, looking out for signs of wear.

Second, position your wiper blades away from the windshield when you park it during cold conditions. This step keeps the blades from freezing to the window. Similarly, never try to use your blade to scrape ice off your windshield.

 

Remember that wiper blades are an important part of a functional car windshield. To keep your windshield wipers and your windshield itself in top-notch condition, work with the experts at Go-Glass.

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