“Over 90% of new vehicles come equipped with beam-style blades and this trend will continue to grow every year”, says Sam Robinson, TRICO’s Senior Product and Brand Manager. He advises: “Technicians should always start by offering their customers premium blades. Beam blades are better in many ways – they’re the latest in wiper technology and have an infinite number of pressure points for superior wiping performance – and your customers will appreciate knowing you’re looking out for their safety. Rear integral blades should be changed just as often as the front wipers. However, most drivers only change their rear blade once every five years or so, providing you with a great opportunity to help your customers and win their loyalty.”
Each part number of TRICO’s Exact Fit replacement blade programme is manufactured specifically to fit the vehicle with pre-assembled connectors for quick and easy wiper replacement, providing conventional, beam, rear and hybrid blade styles.
Sam says that it’s merchandising units have worked well for workshops: “It’s been proven that displays prompt purchases, since they provide important information right at the moment of decision. Place a merchandiser display stocked with wipers in your customer waiting area or near the register. On rainy and snowy days, roll out a mobile rack in front of the entrance door, as bad weather helps magnify the need for wipers.”
THE ANATOMY OF A FLAT WIPER BLADE
The wiping rubber element is the part that comes into contact with the glass and can be made of three different types of material – natural rubber, synthetic rubber, and special compounds based on both.
Natural rubber in its purest form provides the best quality of wipe, with no or minimum fine lines but it suffers from a limited lifespan and is easily damaged by UV rays, as well as being prone to “permanent set” – where the rubber changes shape due to resting against the glass for extended periods. This is the most common cause of wipers “jumping” across the screen.
Fully synthetic rubber is the most durable, with high resistance to UV light as well as maintaining its shape. The compromise is that the quality of wipe is not as good at lower temperatures and more lines tend to be visible.
The best solution is a mix of both natural and synthetic rubbers. TRICO uses a compound that contains both. This rubber formulation has been approved by numerous vehicle manufacturers for OE and OES supply, with exactly the same rubber being used in aftermarket products.
A coating is also applied to the wiping element to reduce friction as the rubber passes over the glass. Many factories use a simple graphite coating, although there are other compounds that are used. TRICO use their own formulation, with specific mixes to promote the best performance on a specific vehicle glass.
The Vertebra (steel splines), are the most important part of the blade. These are produced using sprung steel to keep their shape. If the shape of the curve is not controlled properly, the blade will not match the shape of the windscreen, leaving unwiped areas along the wiper’s length. The Spoiler (fitted over splines) keeps the blade operational during high speed driving. The shape of the spoiler is crucial. Too small and it will have limited wind lift, too large and it becomes too visible to the driver. In addition, it uses more material, which increases the overall cost of the blade.
End caps are in place to keep the wiping element, vertebra, and spoiler together on the blade. These are normally made of plastic, which contain a compound to stop the UV light causing the plastic to change colour from black, to grey, to white and helps keep the material from becoming brittle, which can cause it to crack. The coupler is the centre part of the wiper blade to which the connectors are fitted, connecting the blade to the wiper arm.
There are several different types of connectors, generally made of UV resistant plastic.