Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Wiper Blades - More going on then you thought

As winter rolls in, I perform a series of winterizing steps for the car. Switching out to winter tires, filling the windshield wiper fluid reservoir with freeze resistant wiper fluid, placing rubber floor mats. Those all seems like sensible things to do. However another thing that I do is switch out windshield wiper blades. WHAT!? That's right windshield wiper blades. Ok for my wife's car I insensibly put on a warm fuzzy seat cover and steering wheel cover.

A windshield wiper consist of several arched springs and a rubber blade. The arches maintain constant pressure on the rubber blade against the windshield. If a section of spring arch is compromised it no longer pushed the rubber squeegee against the glass and a streak will form. During a winter storm as snow falls on you wiper, it fills the arches and prevents them from working. The solution: winter wiper blades.

Traditionally a winter wiper blade is constructed the same as a typical blade with one added feature: a love glove. The winter blade is covered with a thin flexible rubber jacket that prevents the snow from binding up the spring mechanisms of a standard wiper blade. Often times the end of the blades are capped with a red tip. This either helps identify that that are winter blades or to help locate the end of your wipers when scraping ice off your windshield. Does it work. They sure do. One thing however is that you can not replace just the rubber insert of a winter blade. Everything is covered. However these days it is almost impossible to find blade refills only. Most auto parts store only sell the entire arch assembly.

So why do I go through the trouble of switching out my wiper blades. The main reason is because I still have my old blades and want to use them up. Winter blades also cost a bit more then your standard blade so I rather save the hi performance blade for the winter when they are really needed. The summer sun really does a number on the rubber. When my other set of blades eventually wear out I will most likely just keep the winter type blades year round.

Recently a new type of wiper blade has come on the market. I refer to them as the curved beam type blade. This type of wiper blade provides good spring force on the windshield and do not have any arched springs to ice up. This type of blade, sold under many different brand names, work great during the winter.

Installing wiper blades is the simplest thing, and take literally less than a minute to do. At the junction of the wiper arm and the blade there is a small tab. Simple depress the tab and slide the old blade off. The new blade slides on and clicks into place.
Prolonging blade life. Often times at a ski resort parking lot, you will notice cars with their wiper blades flipped in the up position. Why do people do this? The reason is so that the blades do not freeze to the windshield and rip off when you engage your wiper. As the car is driven it heats the cab and the windshield up. After parking the car, and especially if it is snowing, the first bits of snow to contact the warm car melts. As time progresses and the car freezes the melted snow becomes ice and bonds your wiper blades to the windshield.
Wiper blades they are one of those things that seem so trivial unit you really need them to work. That is why it is standard equipment on ALL cars!


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