06 March 2024
Why Windscreen Wipers Are A Regular Service Item

Change your wipers periodically for better wet-weather visibility.

Using windscreen wipers when the heavens open up is a foregone conclusion. Newer cars come with rain-sensing wipers which automatically activate when the celestial sprinkle starts, which pretty much means set and forget it.

The problem here is that with the set-and-forget mindset, people simply forget that their wiper blades are a regular service item, only to be frustrated by streaks and uneven wipes that impede outward vision during rainy weather.

The follow-on problem is that people also forget that their vision was marred post wet-weather drive, and go about their business as usual until the next inclement weather episode.

Frustrate-and-forget. Rinse and repeat.

When to Change

Let’s start with the obvious. If your wiper blades are well and truly worn, and/or leave streaks and un-wiped patches in its swept area on the windscreen, it is high time to change them out.

This would also be true if the blades are chattering and/or squeaking badly while wiping.

if your wiper blades look like this, change them NOW

However, it’s best not to let things get to this stage, as worn blades can also lead to windscreen damage by instilling scratches that might require highly specialised polishing to remove at best, or a windscreen replacement at worst. Windscreens ain’t cheap folks.

If your vehicle is always parked outdoors under the elements and susceptible to fallout from trees, industrial sources and the like, consider changing your wiper blades when streaks start to show or every year, whichever comes first.

Remember, it isn’t just wiping that deteriorates blades. So do sun and associated heat and UV exposure, and accumulated debris along the blade that can cause it to deteriorate faster.

Otherwise, consider changing the blades when streaks start to show or every two years, whichever comes first. This will allow you to retain better forward visibility during wet weather and will also protect your windscreen from scratches.

Types of Wiper Blades

The most common and affordable is the conventional type.

These types of wipers have a cartridge comprising two shorter suspension arms built into a longer bridge that holds the actual blade to the windscreen. The benefit of the conventional type is twofold.

One is that the entire cartridge together with the blade can be replaced, which makes things much more convenient.

The other is that blade inserts can be purchased and replaced on the existing cartridge if preferred, offering a more cost-effective replacement solution. Usually, the cartridge can last many years, which means cost-savings on inserts.

wiper blade inserts or refills

The other common and newer wiper blade is the flat type.

Flat-type blades have tensioned metal within that supports the blade. This is why when the arm is picked up off the windscreen, flat type blades tend to resemble a bow. This means the blade can better conform to the curvature of the windscreen and is much more effective at wiping.

Furthermore, a flat-type blade has an aerodynamic spoiler integrated into its form. At highway speeds, this integrated spoiler causes the blade to press down with greater pressure and be more effective at wiping since the blade does not lift away from the windscreen.

spoiler sits proud of the blade and creates more downforce at highway speeds

There is a third type called a hybrid blade, which uses the best features of conventional and flat-type wipers.

The blades themselves can be made of natural or chloroprene rubber, or even silicone. While there is raging debate online on which of these is best, consider the recommended change interval and use whichever suits your wallet.

Wiper Care

Let’s say you’ve just had a set of brand-new blades installed. How do you take care of them so that they’ll last the distance?

A good rule of thumb when washing your car would be to lift the wiper arms off the windscreen and run your wash media (sponge, mitt, etc.) over the blade itself to remove accumulated debris.

This would help remove any road grime picked up from daily driving and make the blades more effective during rain.

During day-to-day usage, it’s best if you can check for debris on and under the wiper blades, and clear them out before setting off. This is especially so when parked in an open carpark.

Neglecting to do this is what causes streaks on the windscreen when the wipers are at work. Accumulated debris can permanently deform and/or damage the blade, or even scratch the windscreen, so spend a minute to clear the junk.

Overlooked Wipers’ Assistant

Banish any thoughts of squeegee elves magically appearing and dancing on your vehicle’s bonnet while they sing and clean the glass. The most overlooked wipers’ assistant is actually the windscreen washer fluid.

Keep the washer fluid reservoir topped off for the unfortunate times when a bird decides to drop a strategically-aimed bomb out its backside, or when mud from the road is flung up by another vehicle onto your windscreen.

Premixed windscreen washer fluid is available for purchase at most petrol stations and car-accessory shops, and you’d only need to top off the reservoir. Some cars have their rear windscreen reservoir in the boot, so consult your owner’s manual as to the actual location(s).

Due to premixed washer fluid containing glycol, alcohol and/or surfactants, one may not want to use this due to the paintwork stains they can potentially leave behind. In this case, use straight distilled, de-ionized or reverse-osmosis water to reduce the amount of potential stains on paintwork.

Stressed Out?

Well, don’t be. AutoApp can handle all of your car’s servicing needs and keep you updated along the way. Wiper replacements can be scheduled together with your regular servicing, and we’ll even remind you when they’re due for replacement.

Our panel of partner workshops are carefully curated to offer the most optimal and timely servicing solutions for your car. We’ll also remind you when your next servicing is due so that you don’t have to worry about getting it done on time.

Other safety-related and maintenance checks such as the wear of brakes and tyres are checked during servicing with Autoapp.

The Invisible Wipers

Here’s some bonus content, which is probably the most important aspect of windscreen wipers’ efficacy. By getting rainwater to roll off your glass, your wipers will have a much easier time. No, it’s not voodoo or black magic.

The main phenomenon that obscures vision during a downpour is that rainwater sticks to a vehicle’s glass, be it the windscreens or side windows.

As speeds increase, the air that passes over the front windscreen with greater velocity causes the stuck-on rainwater to ripple, much like the ripples on the surface of a pond or lake on a windy day.

Do you recognise this exact scenario in the image below?

rainwater sticks to and ripples on the front windscreen

This phenomenon of water sticking to the glass and rippling more with speed is what causes your outward vision to be obscured during a downpour.

The solution, therefore, is to break the surface tension that causes rainwater to adhere to glass in the first place. This is where hydrophobic coatings come into their own, especially during torrential downpours that cause all and sundry on the road to shudder.

A hydrophobic coating breaks surface tension on the glass, causing water to bead up into droplets.

At lower speeds, these droplets are easily dealt with by wipers. At higher speeds, the air that passes over the windscreen literally ‘blows’ the droplets up and away, giving the wipers much less water to wipe.

Since there is no film of water adhered to the glass and rippling away with speed, you therefore enjoy a much clearer forward vision in the process to enhance safety.

AutoApp offers a service to prep and coat all the glass panels of your vehicle to make them hydrophobic. This is a thorough and involved process that takes around 1.5-hours to complete, and also includes cleaning the inside glass surfaces for clearer outward vision.

step #1 – prepping glass for hydrophobic coating
step #2 – applying hydrophobic coating and letting dry
step #3 – buffing off residue
step #4 – cleaning interior glass
hydrophobic glass coating completed

The coating lasts up to one year. Click here for enquiries.

Download AutoApp here. Leave the hassle to us. Let go, let AutoApp.

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