A streaky wiper blade is, at the very least, an annoyance in the summer. In the winter, it’s potentially far more dangerous. And this is the time of year to make sure that you have a set of wipers in your car that will provide a clear view of the road ahead.
“Of all your senses, when you’re driving, none is more important than your vision,” said Denny Norton, owner of Ringwood based Performance Unlimited. “that’s not to say your other senses aren’t critical, as well. But, if you can’t see where you’re going, it doesn’t matter as much if you have a good feel for the road or if you can hear an ambulance coming. If you can’t see, there’s a good chance that ambulance will be coming for you.”
Norton said it’s frustrating when wipers fail to adequately clear the windshield. The problem is compounded in the winter with snow and ice that can freeze onto the windows and wipers. Then, when you add the effects of road salt, you’ve got a real mix for potential disaster.
Snow and ice can build up on the wiper blade until the spring action that allows the blade to contour to the windshield becomes rigid and inflexible. At that point, the wiper has little or no effectiveness in terms of clearing the windshield. But, Norton said there is a solution that goes a long way to preventing that problem.
“They cost a little more, but they make wiper blades that have a rubber shield over the spring assembly,” Norton said. “For a little more manufacturers now offer wiper blades that conform to the window without the traditional spring assembly. In the winter, these blades are well worth the cost.”
Wiper blades, however, are only one part of a critical system designed to work in unison to provide clear vision for drivers. That system includes an assembly to provide a spray of washer solvent onto the windshield on demand. It’s important to use a solvent that won’t freeze at the temperatures experienced in the area.
The washer-solvent sprayer is never more critical than when a fine mist of moisture and road salt begins to dry on the windshield. Even with good wiper blades, efforts to clear the windshield are often futile unless some washer solvent is added to the equation.
Another critical component is the car’s defroster. The fan must have the ability to blow up across the inside of the windshield and access to heat in that process is essential. That means the heater must work as well as the blower.
In many newer cars, they actually combine the air-conditioning system with the defrosters. This way, the defrosters use the A/C to dry the air before it is blown across the windshield.
There are other crucial tools to having clear vision for driving. These include a hand-held ice scrapper and a snow brush. It may take a few minutes to completely clear the snow and/or ice off the windows but the return in positive vision is well worth the effort. In terms of brushing away the snow, it’s best to do a thorough job on the vehicle so snow on the body doesn’t blow up onto the windshield or windows once the car is in operation.
There are solvents made that drivers can apply ahead of time. These are advertised to reduce frost on the windows and to make it easier to scrape frost and ice off.
“There are instances when you’re driving when fractions of a second count,” Norton said. “If your vision is reduced your chances of avoiding an accident are equally reduced.”
Anyone having any problems with the components listed above should bring their car in to a trusted auto repair shop. Norton said that the auto repair technicians at Performance Unlimited are happy to check the wipers, defroster and window solvent levels and can do that while performing other repairs or maintenance, too.
Norton said this is also a good time to make sure your vehicle is otherwise winterized.
For more information about Performance Unlimited, call 815-728-0343 or visit www.4performanceunlimited.com.