As the nights draw in and the winter weather approaches, the effects of worn wipers and faulty wiper motors will become more apparent, so now is the perfect time to offer a free Winter Check – to ensure your customers’ vehicles are primed for deteriorating driving conditions.
“We estimate that the general life of a wiper blade is between six and 12 months, so workshops know this will be, at worst, an annual sell, but by offering a free check, you’re demonstrating good customer service and likely to keep the business now and in the future,” explains TRICO Product Manager, Sam Robinson.
Run through this quick checklist with customers to demonstrate whether their blades need replacing:
1. Use the washer spray or spray bottle to sprinkle the windscreen, switch the wiper blades on and check for any missed areas, smears or streaks that might impede driver visibility. If misting or any other symptoms remain after a few seconds, the wiper blade should be changed immediately.
2. Take extra care when lifting wiper arms – on many vehicles, arms will hit against the bonnet and not lift. If so, turn the ignition on and off and then press the wiper stalk down, this will often move the blades up into their service position, where they can be lifted. If this does not work, consult the vehicle’s manual.
3. Gently clean the rubber blade edge with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or residue before checking along its length for any imperfections –check that either end hasn’t split. Ensure the rubber element returns to a central position and is not ‘laid over’ or set in one direction. If the blade fails any of these checks, it should be replaced.
4. Check the wiper blade is securely fixed to the arm. The blade should rotate freely, parallel with the wiper arm, there should, be no wobbling or movement perpendicular to the arm – this can be a sign of wear from the blades flipping over and could eventually cause the blades to come apart during use. If the blade shows excessive movement, replace immediately.
5. Ensure the windscreen is thoroughly cleaned using warm water or specialist cleaning fluid, particularly paying attention to the areas at the top and bottom of the wipe area. Check the windscreen for any cracks or chips – these are safety hazards in their own right, but they can also damage the wiper blade rubber.
6. Carefully lower the wiper arms back onto the screen. If the wipers have failed any of the checks, fit new blades immediately.
TRICO’s Exact Fit wiper programme comprises a range of direct fit blades, with almost 150 references providing 99% front and rear wiper coverage.
A QUESTION OF QUALITY
Although one of the simplest parts on a modern vehicle, it is important to use a quality replacement wiper to ensure peak performance in maintaining visibility and product longevity. DENSO states its expertise and technology from the original equipment production line is used for its aftermarket programme, providing an extended product lifetime whatever the weather conditions.
Its wipers are fitted as OE on a host of high-end vehicles, featuring Standard and Flat blades to the latest Hybrid designs, they are even used on the Japanese bullet trains! Their advanced design provides a wiping edge that effectively cleans the unique windscreen of the bullet train whilst travelling at slower speeds.
Its Standard range includes four blade profiles for various windscreens and vehicle styles. There are also four choices of installation systems and three clip options. The Hybrid has been popular with vehicle manufacturers since 2005 and combines advanced engineering, robust materials and a futuristic design.
Valeo also supplies Original Equipment as well as spare parts to the aftermarket, with its Valeo HydroconnectTM and Valeo First, as well as the premium Original Equipment replacement range Valeo SilencioTM. Its latest addition is Valeo AquaBladeTM (integrated in the Valeo SilencioTM wiper range) delivering wiper fluid directly onto the windshield via the wiper blades. The windshield is wiped instantly and uniformly, regardless of vehicle speed, allowing for constant and perfect visibility. The manufacturer says that front-facing cameras, which are increasingly common on windshields, also benefit from this improved field of vision.
According to a study including 7,500 tests carried out by the independent organization Fraunhofer IOSB in Karlsruhe, drivers in vehicles equipped with the Valeo AquaBlade® react 315 milliseconds more quickly than drivers using traditional windshield wiper systems. That faster reaction time translates into a braking distance reduced by four meters in urban driving conditions at speeds of 30mph.
5 SIGNS THAT IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE WIPER BLADES
1. The skipper
If your wiper blades skip across your windscreen rather than smoothly wipe away the water, it’s actually a sign of underuse rather than them being worn out. This often occurs in hot and dry conditions. Consider installing a set of blades that use a composite of natural and artificial rubbers rather than 100% natural rubber. Synthetic rubbers have been shown to be more resistant to sun damage and ‘setting’ than natural rubber.
2. The streaker
When wipers leave streaks across the windscreen, they may just need a clean with a soft cloth but if it continues, they are failing. Consider replacing with a flat wiper like Valeo Service’s aftermarket wiper HydroconnectTM or Valeo SilencioTM, the OE blade. Where traditional wiper blades only have between four and eight pressure points, flat blades like Valeo HydroconnectTM feature hundreds of contact points. This creates a consistent pressure along the entire length of each individual wiper.
3. The squeaker
A squeaking wiper is a sign of either incorrect fitting or that it’s time for replacement. In both cases, the wiper’s rubber is not making smooth contact with the windscreen and won’t be cleaning it properly.
First try tightening or loosening the wiper arms to see if the blade just needs an adjustment.
4. The smearer
Smearing can occur when the windscreen is dirty. If it still occurs after cleaning, the blade material is worn, and they need replacing.
5. The damaged
If wiper blades are damaged in any way, their performance and driver visibility will be affected. Look out for any damage to the wiper rubber or loss of adhesion to the wiper arm and also to the mechanism itself.