The 8 Best Windshield Wipers
- galvanized steel frames
- flexible asymmetric spoilers
- rubber separates from housing
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
- good for all-season use
- frames helps prevent ice buildup
- noisy at higher speeds
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
- universal quick-lock adapter
- comes in sizes from 12 to 28 inches
- often creates squeaking sound
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- ez lok connector system
- independent suspension
- confusing installation instructions
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- come fully assembled
- receptor precisely matches arm
- long-lasting rubber
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- patented beam design
- rubber resists heat and ozone damage
- tension springs provide pressure
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
Rubber And Glass Unite
Imagine that you and your family are driving across a busy highway in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. Besides the fact that the experience is unnerving, and that you would ordinarily attempt to avoid being forced to drive in such weather where possible, you have little choice. Additionally, your family's safety and your own visibility are your biggest concerns on the road. Without the use of windshield wipers to maintain your visibility, you would likely not be traveling anywhere in such weather. The good news is that being equipped with windshield wipers is both a legal requirement and standard feature for most modern vehicles.
The windshield wiper is a device used to remove rain, snow, and other debris from a vehicle, boat, or airplane's front panes of glass. The majority of modern wipers consist of a pair of metal arms, each with one pivoting end and a long rubber blade attached to the other end. The metal arms are powered by an electric motor, which allows the blades to move back and forth over the windshield. This action pushes water and other obstructions away from the windshield's surface while improving visibility for the driver.
The speed at which a vehicle's windshield wipers swing is adjustable by the driver and can often be set to either continuous or intermittent operation. The speed is usually dependent upon the amount of rain or debris hitting the windshield during periods of extreme weather. The harder the rainfall, the faster the wipers will swing to remove water more quickly.
In addition to electric motors, some automobiles make use of pneumatic-style wipers that operate by directing pressurized air from a vehicle's braking system to an air-operated motor above the windshield.
The most common form of wiper movement is parallel, meaning that both rubber blades move across the windshield in the same direction. This movement typically covers the greatest surface area of the windshield to maximize visibility. Less common (and effective) is opposed movement, whereby the wiper blades are mounted on opposite sides of the windshield and move in opposite directions.
A third wiper system, used most commonly by buses, is the pantograph-based design. A pantograph wiper system features two dedicated metal arms for each wiper blade. The entire blade assembly is supported on a horizontal bar connecting the two arms. This allows each wiper blade to cover a larger surface area of the vehicle's windshield. However, a pantograph system also requires the wipers to be mounted in the middle of the windshield itself, which can partially obstruct the driver's view.
Keeping It Simple And Reliable
Modernity, convenience, and safety are the three most important values to consider in a windshield wiper system. As testament to these values, modern vehicles are often equipped with driver-programmable, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers designed to detect wetness using a built-in rain sensor. This sensor automatically adjusts the speed and frequency at which your wiper blades cycle over the glass and it operates based on the amount of water hitting the windshield. The automatic adjustment can usually be manually overridden by the driver when necessary.
One must be sure the wiper blades chosen are also thick and durable enough to withstand extreme weather conditions. Many models offer a universal fit for your car, which saves you time and headache worrying about a complex installation.
If longevity matters a bit more to you than cost does, consider wipers with rubber silicone integrated into their design. While these are typically more expensive than other wipers, they offer very quiet operation and a water-resistant film on the windshield glass to promote water beading. With that in mind, do be aware that windshield wipers have a life to them, which ranges anywhere from nine to twelve months depending on how often they're used.
It is important to recognize the signs of an aging pair of windshield wipers. For example, you may start noticing that your wiper blades are leaving messy streaks on the glass or they may start grabbing and catching dirt and debris more often than they did before. The wipers may become noisy, which could mean the rubber on the blades is becoming brittle. Keep an eye on their performance over time and learn to recognize some of the warning signs that require replacing them.
A Brief History Of Windshield Wipers
The history of windshield wipers begins at the turn of the twentieth century when American inventor Mary Anderson was caught in rough weather while riding as a passenger on a streetcar in New York City. Anderson observed the driver's need to stick his head out of his window in order to see in front of him. Diminishing road visibility from a driver's windshield was a common occurrence when the weather turned nasty and it was a universal problem for all drivers, regardless of vehicle type.
After this experience, Anderson began formulating ideas and experimenting to solve this problem. In 1903, Anderson patented the first operational windshield wiper, which she called a window cleaning device for electric cars. The device operated from the use of a lever inside the vehicle.
In 1917, the Tri-Continental Corporation developed the first windshield wiper called Rain Rubber, which was originally designed for the slotted, two-piece windows seen on most automobiles of the time.
Development of the first automatic windshield wipers has been attributed to Cleveland, Ohio brothers William M. and Fred Folberth around 1921. Their design provided movement for the wipers by leveraging exhaust air from an automobile's engine manifold to an actuator, which moved the wiper blades back and forth across the car's windshield. Unfortunately, this design was unable to keep the speed of the wipers consistent.
Engineering professor Robert Kearns of Detroit, Michigan marked the next revolutionary development seen in the intermittent windshield wiper in 1963. Kearns was annoyed by the constant motion of his windshield wipers and developed the first intermittent system using off-the-shelf electronic components. In Kearns design, the interval between wipes of each blade was determined by the rate of electrical flow into a capacitor.
In 1970, French automobile manufacturer Citroën developed the first rain-sensitive intermittent wiper system. If a driver's windshield was dry, the wiper would make a single pass over the driver's windshield while its motor would draw a high electric current. This high current would instruct a control circuit timer to delay the next wiping cycle. By contrast, if the motor drew a low current, then the control circuit timer would minimize the delay between wipes.