With windshield wipers, you barely need to think. All it takes is turning a switch or flipping a stalk on the steering column, and they just work. While many drivers feel they don’t need to know more about wipers, the truth is that such knowledge will help you spot potential problems early, which in turn can help save you money on bigger and more complex repairs.
Windshield Wipers: How They Work
The wipers are powered by an electric motor, which is hidden from view underneath the dash of your car. Also included in the setup is a worm gear reduction, which has the ability to increase the torque output from the motor by as much as 50 times, or reduce it by 50 times. That’s how you’re able to select so many settings for your wipers, from slow to incredibly fast.
Connected to the gear reduction is a linkage, which is what actually moves the wipers back and forth across the windshield. A short cam is the piece that’s attached to the motor’s output shaft. As it spins while the motor runs, a long rod attached to the other end of the cam shifts back and forth. Attached to the other end of the long rod is a short rod, which is what turns the wiper blade on one side of the car (usually the driver’s side). Another long rod connects to the other wiper.
The actual wiper arms are attached to the ends of the linkages with a single bolt. On modern cars, that bolt is covered with a cap made of plastic or sometimes metal. This keeps snow, ice, salt and other debris out of the connection, avoiding corrosion as the car ages. This is the first thing to check if one or both of the wipers is flopping while operating, or won’t move at all. If tightening the bolt doesn’t do the trick, then the problem is with the linkages or the electric motor itself.
There’s also an electronic sensor that detects whenever the wipers are sitting down. In the event you switch off the wipers when they’re still in the up position, this sensor keeps the power on until the wipers are folded down, completely out of your line of sight. It’s this same sensor that makes it so the wipers stay at the bottom of the windshield between swipes when you’re using the intermittent setting. Obviously, if your wipers don’t sit at the bottom of the windshield when you turn them off, this sensor is likely broken.
Windshield Wiper Blades
Most people know a thing or two about wiper blades, because they’re parts that have to be replaced on a pretty regular basis. Basically, they’re made of rubber, with metal strips that help them maintain a constant shape. This is so the thin rubber edge that sits against the windshield swipes off water evenly. As the rubber ages, it starts to chip and crack, causing the wipers to leave streaks. Sometimes this streaking is caused by dirt buildup on the wipers, which is why it’s a good idea to clean them when washing your car.
Having your car sit out in the hot sun during the daytime in the summer, or out in the bitter cold of the winter night can accelerate the aging of the wiper blades. In other words, garaging your car as often as possible will extend the life, saving you money. The most common problem with wipers comes from not replacing the blades as they age out.
The windshield wiper fluid helps with clearing debris off the windshield, like when there are a lot of bugs in the air. Little nozzles that sit on the hood, or at the edge between the hood and bottom of the windshield, actually spray the fluid out. From time to time these nozzles can become partially or completely clogged by dirt, salt or other debris. If that happens, you can clear it yourself by inserting a thin needle into the nozzle. Also, if it snows or there’s ice on your car, you have to clear that completely from the nozzles for them to work properly.
T3 Atlanta Can Replace Windshield Wipers
Wiper problems can be serious, since they affect your ability to see the road and other vehicles. The trained technicians at T3 Atlanta can quickly take care of any situation, ensuring you stay safe and happy.