Windscreen wipers – Everything you need to know
Windscreen wipers are probably the single most important companion to your windscreen. Replacing windscreen wipers usually do not get given a lot of thought or appreciation, but they are an integral aid for our vision to keep us alive in wet or snowy conditions.
Getting caught in your vehicle with the elements can be frightening and challenging. It’s important to follow safe driving tips and procedures if you find yourself in less-than-joyful conditions. Much of vehicle safety assurance if you get caught in a storm occurs well before you get in the car. Regular professional servicing, healthy tires, clean, clear, faultless windows and windscreens, and well maintained safety features all help keep you safe and sound in sticky situations.
Like every important vehicle safety feature it’s handy to understand how your windscreen wipers work. We’ll cover how you should look after them to help protect your windscreen, and ensure your safety in the next downpour.
What your windscreen wipers do
Wipers are tasked with keeping our windscreen clear enough for us to keep our eyes on the road in rainy, snowy or dusty conditions. Activated at various speeds, they can remove rain, water and debris from your windscreen. From inside the vehicle you can activate a spray of water up the windscreen to work in conjunction with your wipers in removing dust and debris.
Generally consisting of a pivoting arm and long rubber blade, there’s no one-size-fits-all wiper. Almost every vehicle has a specific size and style of windscreen wiper.
Check your car’s owner manual for the correct wiper blade size for your vehicle.
Tandem windscreen wipers
Common tandem systems consist of two windshield wipers, one each on the driver and passenger side of the windscreen. Operated via a single motor with the wiper blade connected via a pivot, the two wipers move in the same direction in tandem to maximise visibility for the driver.
Opposed windscreen wiper system
Less common, the opposed system features two blades which start in the centre and sweep upwards and outwards towards their respective side of the windscreen edge.
Single arm wipers
Single arm wiper: The single arm wiper sweeps the windscreen space backwards and forwards in an arc motion.
Controlled single arm wiper: While it looks simple, the controlled single arm wiper is the most complex. The wiper arm extends as it reaches the edges/corners of the windscreen and retracts again in the centre – this is designed to cover the broadest area of windscreen space possible for a single arm wiper.
Bet you didn’t know there were so many different wiper types! What they all share in common is the importance of their job, and their need to be regularly cleaned, maintained and replaced.
How to maintain your windscreen wipers
You should regularly test and inspect the condition of your wipers. It’s common in our harsh Australian climate for the rubber blade to perish, or the bracket to rust and seize. If your wipers are damaged or covered in dirt and grime, they’re not likely to work effectively and can easily scratch your windscreen.
It’s a good habit to check and clean your wipers each time you wash your car. Just run a soft soapy cloth over the blades to remove any dust or dirt build up. Never activate your wipers dry. Without water to lubricate the glass, they can cause costly damage to your windscreen. For this reason it’s also important to regularly top up your wiper fluid.
If your wipers are beginning to leave streaks, fail to leave you with sufficient vision, or are starting to make a god-awful noise, you’re probably due for a replacement. It’s recommended wiper blades be changed every 6 – 12 months.
Windscreen wiper replacement
With each vehicle model sporting their own type of windscreen wipers it’s important to confirm the correct size and style of blade and connector blade mechanism.
The most budget-friendly option is to replace the rubber insert if the wipers are in otherwise good condition. Alternatively, you can replace the whole wiper mechanism or blade to get these all-important driving companions working like clockwork.
When you’re replacing your rubber inserts or wiper blades, for added windscreen protection and to aid the efficiency of your wipers, we recommend a quality glass/headlight cleaner such as Rain-X X-treme Clean. Products like this help remove grimy build ups on the windscreen which could compromise your wipers. A quality glass cleaner will not only extend the longevity of your blades; but increase your visibility.
Here at Novus Auto Glass we also produce our own specialty DIY glass cleaner. It has been specially formulated by the same chemical engineers that developed the first windscreen repair resins – saving drivers thousands of costly windscreen replacements annually. With ammonia-free ingredients and simple application, your windshield and wipers will feel showroom new in no time.
What are wipers made of and what’s the best type?
There are many different types. Typical wipers are constructed of metal and plastic parts with a rubber blade insert. There are also silicone wiper blade inserts which tend to last longer than the rubber, and often gift the driver with better vision and clarity. These are particularly suited to hot northern climates where rubber and plastic is known to quickly perish.
If you live in a frost-prone or snowy winter climate, Winter wiper blades are designed to cope with the ice and snow that can accumulate on your windscreen. You can also find shaker wipers that vibrate against the screen to dislodge snow and ice, and blades with a heating mechanism to melt frost and ice. Who knew wipers were so technical?
The best type for you is dependant on your climate and vehicle type. If you’d like some professional advice about your wipers Novus windscreen experts are on call to help.
Novus Auto Glass specialise in windscreen repair technology and strive to provide you with the best possible care for your car. Services include windscreen repair and replacement as well as restoration, polishing and windscreen glass cleaning and protection products. Call us to see how we can help you on 13 22 34.