Cars Simplified: Everything Automotive Explained

Wiper Blades

Wiper blades are found on nearly every vehicle, including some race cars. They are used to wipe water off the front window/windshield while rain is hitting it. Wiper blades are available with many features, depending on which blades you pick.

Traditional Wipers

Traditional wipers consist of many arches which connect to the rubber component, spreading the force somewhat evenly across the entire width of the blade. This design has been around almost as long as curved windshields. There is an even older design than this one, but it was just a blade of rubber held together by metal, and was flat for the flat windshields of the time.

Beam-Type Blades

Beam-type wiper blades are a fairly new design which lasts a lot longer and performs better than traditional wiper designs. They consist of a thicker solid piece of rubber which is pre-curved, and forms to the shape of the glass it is pressed against by the wiper arms. Beam-type blades produce much less drag and turbulence than most traditional wiper designs.

Some of these wiper blades also come with an additional aerodynamic blade which helps keep the wiper stuck to the window at high speeds. While it could be argued that this helps keep wipers pressed against the window uniformly at high speed, those same forces would make the wiper motor work harder at race car speeds.

A pair of Bosch Icon 18A wiper blades.

The wiper blade shown above is an 18 inch long Bosch Icon, which is a beam type wiper blade. It is similar in design to the Trico Neoform and Rain X Latitude, but lacks the spoiler blade of the Trico Onyx.

Hybrid Design

A few companies have wiper blade designs which combine the lower production costs of the traditional design, and the top of the more aerodynamically-engineered beam-type blades. The downsides to this hybrid design is that it's basically just a traditional blade with extra plastic for the aero components, adding material and manufacturing complexity costs to the basic wiper blade design for minimal benefit.

Many new cars are fitted with these blades since they are more visually appealing, and are less likely to cause problems during test drives.

Silicone Wiper Blades

This material is a replacement for the rubber of the blade itself, not the entire wiper assembly, so it can be found on any of the designs mentioned above. Silicone tends to be much more able to withstand harsh weather conditions than rubber can, but will still wear out with time.

8 Tricks to Improve Wiper Blade Lifespan by

It's no fun replacing wipers after only a few uses! These eight quick tips will help you get the most lifespan out of your wiper blades!

Wiper Arms & Motors

Wiper arms are what the blades connect to, and are connected to the pivot point, which is driven by the wiper motor (usually one motor drives both wiper blades). The arm don't need to be replaced anywhere near as often as the blades, but may need to be if it isn't applying enough force to the blades to keep them pressed to the window.

The wiper motor gives the wipers their movement, and usually powers both wipers at once. Some out-of-sync wipers use two wiper motors.

Reusable Wiper Blades

Reusable (or refillable) wiper blades appeal to the budget market with their lower overall prices, and produce less waste since the bracket postion that holds the rubber is reused. However, due to their design, they will wear out more quickly, causing some buyers to spend more money in the long run. Most auto parts stores that offer free wiper blade replacement with purchase do not install wiper blade refills because they take too much time to replace. Replacing the whole unit can be done in seconds by an experienced employee on the most common wiper arm designs.

Chemical Alternatives

Chemical alternatives to wiper blades tend to not actually be able to fully replace the function of wiper blades, but often come very close in low to moderate rain conditions.

Rain Repellant

Some companies produce window treatment chemicals which cause the water to bead and run off quickly. Although these chemicals can work surprisingly well, they don't last as long as wiper blades, and can only handle so much water. No matter how good a product claims to be at repelling water, you should always have working wiper blades as well!

The video above demonstrates the difference between an untreated window and one with Rain-X applied to it.

Synthetic Wax

Some types of synthetic auto body wax can be used as a water repellant. Not all automotive waxes repel water to the same degree, so not all of them will serve the window water repellant purpose.

Using a wax can be convenient because you can store one otherwise specialty product with two uses.

If you try a wax, try it in a non-vital area of the window first in case it turns opaque or otherwise blocks the driver's view. Make sure that changes in temperature don't cause the wax coating to become hazy; the cooling effects of rain or an unusually hot day could cause issues you weren't expecting and could cause more of a visual impairment than the rain.