Wipers are one of the few highly visible components which can easily be changed by the DIY motorist. They are essential for removing rain, snow, ice, dust, pollen or other debris from your windscreen so that you have a clear view when driving. As often road accidents are caused by poor visibility, this makes windscreen wipers, along with lights and interior ventilation, vital for driving safety.
What type of wipers do I need?
There’s more to buying a new set of wiper blades than simply picking a set and attaching them to your car. You need to consider the characteristics of different blade types, the sizes required and the wiper’s appearance. Below you can find an overview of the different wiper parts, types and styles, as well as why the size is important. There is also information on recent innovations in wiper technology and the possible future of wipers.
Windscreen wiper parts
A windscreen wiper is made of the following parts:
- Windscreen wiper arm – this is usually made of metal. The arm transfers the movement from the wiper motor to the wiper itself.
- Connectors – these connect the wiper blade to the wiper arm. It’s important to use the right type of connector to ensure that the wiper works silently and efficiently.
- Spring flexors (inside or outside the rubber blade) – the spring flexors ensure the rubber blade maintains an even pressure and even wiping action along its entire length. The curvature of the spring flexors matches your windscreen for perfect contact between the blade and the glass.
- Rubber element – made from natural or chloroprene rubber, the edge ensures maximum flexibility as the blade changes angle at the end of each stroke across the windscreen. The rubber element that comes into contact with the glass is surface treated with a special coating and graphite powder to reduce friction and the precision formed profile ensures a smooth change of angle as the wiper cycles up and down the windscreen.
- Spoiler – the spoiler is fitted to the windscreen wiper on the drivers’ side to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce wind-lift when driving at high speeds.
Out of all these parts, the rubber element is the part that is most subject to wear over time. Especially as rubber deteriorates even without use due to exposure to the sun and weather.
Different types of wipers
The three main types of wiper blades are: conventional, flat and hybrid. If your car came with conventional windscreen wipers, they can be replaced with flat or hybrid wipers for a performance and visual upgrade. However, it should be noted that cars that came with flat windscreen wipers cannot be fitted with conventional ones.
Conventional windscreen wipers
Up until a few years ago, conventional windscreen wipers were the most common type fitted to new cars. Nowadays, almost all new cars are equipped with flat blades.
Conventional windscreen wipers have a metal or metal plastic composite structure comprising a central bridge and articulated links that provides between 4 and 8 pressure points, depending on the length of the blade. Spring flexors distribute the force generated by the wiper arm spring via the wiper bridge and links and flexors to the rubber element for a uniform pressure on the glass.
Options for conventional windscreen wipers include a spoiler for the drivers’ side, spray bar pods for vehicles that have their windscreen washer jets attached to the wiper blade and curved passengers’ side blades for vehicles with very rounded windscreens.
Flat windscreen wipers
Increasingly, new cars are now equipped with flat windscreen wipers.
Flat windscreen wipers feature tensioned metal flexors supporting the rubber element with a full length integrated spoiler to use the pressure generated by the air flow. This allows for a flatter aerodynamic shape that reduces wind noise. The flexors form the blade profile that exactly matches the windscreen, guarantees uniform pressure all along the contact edge. It is also more discreet than a conventional windscreen wiper, so blocks less of the drivers’ field of vision.
Hybrid windscreen wipers
As the name suggests, hybrid windscreen wipers are a combination of conventional and flat windscreen wipers. They enjoy both aerodynamic properties and appearance of flat windscreen wipers with the performance of conventional windscreen wipers.
The integrated spoiler runs along the full length of the blade, reducing wind lift to maintain constant down force. This keeps the rubber blade on the windscreen, for a smooth and quiet movement especially at high speeds.
In addition to the different types and styles of windscreen wipers, there are also different sizes available. If you select blades that are too long, they will either hit each other or go over the edge of the windscreen. And blades that are too short won’t fully clean your windscreen, reducing your field of vision and safety. If in any doubt, it’s best to measure your current windscreen wipers or consult your owners’ manual to ensure you select the correct size for your car.
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