The Great Wiper Blade Debate

The weather here has turned worse. How much worse? This morning an RCMP patrol stopped outside our house and scanned the deep ditch on the other side for any sign of a vehicle having slid off into it. They’d had a report with a vague location and were having to check every gully for signs of victims.

When I went out in the crunchy snow to get some wood, it was raining. The dogs don’t even want to be out in it. And they say there’s more of the same to come.

Meanwhile we are treated to ‘news stories’ about whether your wiper arms should be left flat against the windshield or folded out – and what do the ‘experts’ say about it?

Well I don’t know what ‘experts’ they talked to, but this old engineer who’s had more vehicles than any sane person should and has lived the entirety of his getting-too-close-to-a-century-for-comfort lifetime in the frozen North has a few observations on the matter. Also on the news story. Let’s deal with that first, shall we?

What I noticed is that the reasons given for extending the wiper arms were not the right reasons for doing so. They talk about people thinking it will reducing the wear on the blades. Well, no not really. The ‘experts’ are correct on this one: most of the wear comes from running the wipers, not just leaving them pressed against the glass. The other complaint they had was that leaving them pointing out will strain the springs and eventually reduce the pressure exerted on the blades. Technically correct, but it’s doubtful you’ll own the car that long. Even if it happens, you replace the springs and the problem is solved. Then the warn about the sudden snap of the arms folding back down possibly breaking the windshield. I suppose there is a possibility of this, but then again you could also win the lottery. The fact is many times this has happened and because the pressure is spread over the blade the chances of the glass being damaged are near nil. I have seen a chip produced from an arm with no blade on it suddenly whacking down, but again there was nothing to spread the impact force out. It did not shatter the glass.

The thing is the article I read completely missed the real reason why people put the arms up: it makes it easier to clear away the snow and ice. Especially the ice. The biggest probability for any kind of damage in this area is getting iced-down wiper blades freed. And we know they make wonderful dams for blocking snow removal.

So what does this expert say? Leave ’em down unless you’re expecting freezing rain. Like we’re getting today. All three of our vehicles have their blades down, but the van isn’t licensed the Xterra isn’t going anywhere and Jojo is parked underneath. And I’m staying inside. The weather is too lousy to go out in.

Side note: Monday was going to be full moon and once again the sky was blocked with cloud. It was also going to be Mercury’s transit across the sun, but no chance of seeing that either. There will be another full moon next month, but the next Mercury transit isn’t for 30 years. I’m sure I’ll miss that one too, on account of being dead.

3 thoughts on “The Great Wiper Blade Debate

  1. I always leave the wiper arms down and take my chances for freeing them in the morning. I’d be afraid that if I left them up, they might freeze in that position – and the defroster wouldn’t be able to do anything to warm them. Of course, I run the risk of damaging the blades when I clear the ice off the windshield with a scraper. Guess you can’t win either way in the winter.


  2. I’m so glad that in the UK we don’t have to suffer these sorts of problems… yes we get snow… and the entire country grinds to a halt… and yes we get ice, and again the entire country grinds to a halt… but no where near as much as you guys do… as for wipers up or down… I think we here dont or even cant comprehend that we are so lucky to only have “cold snaps” not entire weeks or months of snow and ice… but its good to read that you have “experts” on such matters…. (said with tongue in cheek) BR… L


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