A trip from Alabama to New York City during a rainstorm was all it took for Mary Anderson to invent the windshield wiper. It was back in 1903 that the first ever windshield wipers were patented by both Mary and a guy by the name of James Henry Apjohn.
It was in 1913 that wipers became standard equipment and since then they have progressed a lot. The first major improvement being in the 1930s which saw the placement of wipers go from the top of the windshield to the base.
Up until the 1960s washers were added together with electrical connections to help control them.
In 1962 intermittent wipers were introduced that allowed the driver to change the speed at which the wiper moved. During the 80 s wipers were added to headlights and in the 90 s micro sensors were added to windshields in order for the wipers to start working when rain was detected.
Nowadays wipers are such an integrated part of every vehicle that we almost seem to take them for granted. But like every car part they need to be replaced from time to time in order to keep your windshield clear during inclement weather.
Types of wipers
Conventional wipers have a metal or a metal and plastic composite structure which consists of a central bridge and articulated links. They have spring flexors which spread the force from the wiper arm spring so there is an even pressure on the windshield.
Whilst conventional wipers may be different than newer types, the windshield wiper replacement process is the same for all of them.
These type of wipers have tensioned metal flexors which support the rubber with a an integrated spoiler across its whole length that uses the pressure from the airflow. These make for better aerodynamics and reduce wind noise.
The blade profile of flat wipers matches the shape of the windshield and provides an uniform pressure along the contact edge. They are also more discreet than conventional wipers since they don’t block as much of the driver’s field of view.
As you’d expect, hybrid wipers are a blend of both conventional and flat windshield wipers. Hybrid wipers favour aerodynamics whilst having the performance of conventional wipers.
Their integrated spoiler is positioned along the full length of the blade which reduces wind lift and keeps the rubber on the windshield at all times – this makes for smooth and quiet movements
How to Replace Your Wipers
- The first step of windshield wiper replacement is to raise the wiper away from the windshield with the arm perpendicular to it.
- Then, squeeze the tab located on the side of the hinge until you hear a snap. Once you do that, pull the wiper down toward the base of the windshield. This will unlatch it which will allow you to pull it out.
- To install the new wiper, swing the mounting piece so it’s facing away from the wiper. Rotate the wiper so you have the tab facing the front of the hook and then slide the wiper down.
- Once you have the wiper over the hook, slide it in until you hear it clip in place. Swing the arm inwards and put the wiper back down on the windshield.
When Do I Need to Replace Wipers?
While car maintenance experts recommend that you replace your wipers every 6 to 12 months, sometimes certain indicators can mean otherwise. As with every type of vehicle maintenance you can find out whether or not you need to replace your wipers if you happen to notice one of many indicators.
1. The first sign of a faulty wiper is chattering sounds. If your wipers happen to be making that sound when they go from one end of the windshield to the other, then it’s time for them to go. Streaks or a film of grime on your windshield also means that you need new wipers especially if after you’ve applied cleaning fluid. Although wiping the wipers with a paper towel can take care of the problem if it happens again then it’s definitely time to replace them.
2. The rubber plays a big part on wiper effectiveness which is why you should inspect it from time to time. The rubber should be one smooth piece, it shouldn’t be split or broken off in places and it definitely shouldn’t have cracks. If you notice any such irregularities wiper replacement is going to be needed.
3. The metal part of the wipers can get damaged or bent be it from removing ice from the windshield or simply because they are at the end of their lifespan. Wipers can bend even if you are not careful when wiping them down. A bent wiper won’t be an effective one as it won’t come fully in contact with the windshield.
4. Replacing wipers should be part of basic car maintenance when seasons are changing. For example, in winter you should have wipers designed for that kind of weather as ice and snow can easily damage wipers used in summer. Winter wipers can withstand cold temperatures and perform better on frozen windshields than regular wipers.
5. Another important indicator is when the wiper blade isn’t in contact with the windshield at the corners or somewhere in the middle. You should also keep an eye on streaking and rounded edges of the rubber part. The later means that the wiper has been worn off and the former means that the rubber is dried and hardened – both mean that you’ll need new wipers.