A clean sweep
No matter the make or material of the wiper mechanism, the squeegee connects to the frame arm in one of three ways: a pin arm, which goes through the side of the frame; a bayonet, which clicks into the rear of the frame; or a hook, which goes around the frame. Customers once had to be mindful of what type of connection to buy, but because of universal adaptors, almost any blade can connect to any arm.
Wiper frames themselves are metal or plastic. Metal frames are less prone to weather damage. On metal frames, only the squeegee and the adaptor are not metal.
Though the frame-blade wiper is used almost universally in the United States, single-beam blades are gaining popularity in Europe. They are designed to deal with the occasional problem of wind lift: Rushing air lifts the wiper off the glass enough to lessen its ability to scrape away the precipitation. This can be particularly troublesome on aerodynamic trucks because of their steeply sloped windshields.
A single-beam blade is a one-piece frame and squeegee unit that gives a uniform pressure across the length of the blade while lowering the wiper’s profile, which lessens the chance of wind lift. Since there is no complicated frame to hold the squeegee, the wiper is less likely to get clogged by freezing rain or snow.
U.S. manufacturers are beginning to produce single-beam blades. The Innovision Beam Blade by Trico Products, a Texas company, won a 2005 design award from the Precision Metalforming Association, which cited its style, simplicity, all-weather performance and durability.
MEETING WINTER’S CHALLENGE
Driving in snowstorms or freezing rain can damage a wiper like nothing else, but there are ways to fight the elements.
Most people simply turn up the wiper speed or increase the fan and heat if freezing precipitation hinders their wipers.
Those techniques usually aren’t necessary with a set of winter blades. A winter blade is a traditional blade, but its frame has a rubber boot to protect against snow or ice freezing or gumming up the wiper motor. This ensures the wiper can move smoothly across the glass. They sell for less than $8.
Heavy snow and ice might require more than a set of winter blades, such as Jim Weiler’s Everblades wipers (pictured above), which heat internally. The company says the product can be installed in 15 minutes and will stop ice from forming down to minus-40 degrees.