Article > Parts & More

Wiper Blades Clear The Way

By Gary Goms

Thanks to the ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, the rubber in a wiper blade deteriorates and eventually tears when pulled loose from a frozen windshield.
It’s obviously been a very cold and snowy winter for many of us, and one of the worst problems we can have is discovering that a wiper blade is starting to peel away as we’re driving down the Interstate or Expressway. Thanks to the ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, the rubber in a wiper blade deteriorates and eventually tears when pulled loose from a frozen windshield. The best recommendation for your retail customers is to change wiper blades at least once each year and, if they drive many wintertime miles, to invest in a set of winter wiper blades equipped with rubber boots that prevent the moving parts of the blade from accumulating ice.

When selling winter wiper blades to your retail customer, it’s important to mention ice scrapers, aerosol windshield deicing compounds and “wet” windshield cleaning tissues or aerosol cleaning compounds as an add-on sale. In my own vehicles, I usually carry an aerosol cleaner, a small package of white cleaning cloths and even a bug sponge to remove summertime bugs from exterior and dirt from the interior of the windshield. In some cases, I carry a spare set of wiper blades just in case a blade fails when I’m caught far away from home.

The Wholesale Market
As for your wholesale customers, it’s easy to test wiper blades in the service by turning on the windshield washers and observing how well the wiper blade removes the washer fluid from the windshield. If the blade doesn’t evenly contact the windshield as it travels over the glass, it will leave wet spots and streaks. In this case, it’s better to replace the whole blade assembly. If the blade chatters, the rubber in the blade has hardened due to excessive weathering and all that’s likely needed is a new rubber refill. And don’t forget to check the wiper mounted on the rear hatch of many SUVs. In many cases, this wiper is essential for for removing road mist drawn up from the road surface by square-backed vehicles like SUVs. Remember, too, that some rear wipers have their own reservoir and washer pump assemblies that must be serviced separately.

To ensure maximum visibility, it’s also important to check the operation of the windshield washers. If one side of the washer doesn’t work, a delivery hose could be broken or a nozzle could be clogged. If the washer system completely fails to work, the problem could be a dry reservoir, bad washer pump, a blown fuse or a bad washer switch. In many cases, the reservoir has been damaged by freezing water or washer fluid, so it’s always important for a lube bay technician to check for leaks after refilling. While less expensive washer fluids work well in summer, they can actually ice the windshield over during winter time driving. For safety’s sake, the service professional should always recommend washer fluids designed for sub-freezing winter temperatures.

While we’re on the subject of wiper blades, let’s not forget about checking heated windshields and rear glass for an unusual accumulation of ice. In many cases, the windshield connections or operating mechanism has failed. While rear glass heaters are usually manually controlled, it’s important for a service bay technician to test them during any routine maintenance service. Last, it’s important for your outside sales person to recommend a basic inventory of visibility products to his service professionals. Because wiper blades and other visibility products are an on-demand item, your independent repair shop should have enough wiper blades, windshield cleaning supplies and washer fluids on hand to quickly and efficiently repair most visibility issues.

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