Facts About Windshield Wipers


Windshield wipers are an important part of driving a car or other vehicle safely. We know that they clear off the windshield when it is raining, snowing or when any other element has the capability to block the driver's view. However, many drivers do not think about the importance of their windshield wipers until it comes time to use them.


  • The invention of the windshield wiper dates all the way back to 1903. An inventor by the name of J.H. Apjohn created a device that moved two brushes from the top of the windshield (or windscreen) to the bottom in order to clear off water, dirt and other things that may hinder the driver's view. The swinging arm that we know as today's windshield wipers, however, was invented by Mary Anderson around the same time. By 1916, these devices were standard on all American automobiles.
    In 1919, William Folberth applied for a patent for his automatic windshield wiper system. This was the first automated version of the windshield wiper. His patent was granted in 1922, and his system soon became a standard feature on all vehicles.

How They Work

  • Windshield wipers use two mechanisms to make them work. An electric motor provides power to the wipers to keep them moving. A worm gear is used in conjunction with the motor because this type of mechanism can speed up or slow down the motion of the wipers by 50 times. To make the wipers move back and forth across the windshield, a neat linkage is used to convert the output into motion.
    In addition, there is a circuit within the gear assembly that senses when the wipers are in the "resting" position. After the wipers are turned off, the circuit continues to provide power until the wipers reach the resting position.


  • Windshield wipers are nothing without the wiper blades that clean off the windshield. The wiper blades need maintenance to work properly and clean off the windshield completely. Regardless of where you live, your wiper blades are subject to ultraviolet rays, airborne chemicals and other substances that can degrade the rubber on the blade. However, if you live in a dry climate, you can keep your windshield wipers in proper working condition by using them every couple weeks whether it rains or not. Simply spray some water or windshield wiper fluid on the windshield and clean it off with the windshield wipers.
    You can replace the entire wiper blade or just the rubber "squeegee" part that attaches to the wiper blade. To ensure proper performance of your wiper blades, replace them every six months.

Wiper Designs

  • Most of today's windshield wipers are the same in that there are two blades that go from the driver's side to the passenger's side and back when cleaning off the windshield. However, some cars have different designs. Some Mercedes-Benz models, for instance, have two wipers that begin in the resting position and one blade moves from that position to the driver's side of the windshield while the other wiper goes the opposite direction to clear off the passenger's side. Some models have one wiper that clears off the entire windshield in one motion. Most military vehicles have the wipers attached above the windshield, and they clear off the windshield in a side-to-side motion.


  • Installing wiper blades is fairly simple, but the replacement process varies depending on what type of wiper your car has. The universal slide method just involves a lever on the bottom part of the blade that allows you to slide off the old blade and slide on the new one. The side pin method requires you to release a spring lock button with a screwdriver so you can detach the blade from the wiper arm. The new wiper simply snaps back on. Finally, the bayonet arm uses a locking lever that keeps the blade in place. Simply lift the lever, slide the wiper blade off and slide the new one on. If you have problems, many auto parts stores will install your wipers for free.

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