A common question often asked is, “How do I improve my visibility in the rain whilst driving”. There are many causes and solutions for improving driving visibility in the rain, the main cause being the obvious, poor windscreen wiper performance, but there are other reasons each having a different solution. Each of the most common reasons will be addressed below.
Now its easy enough to change your wipers for new ones and indeed its recommended to change them at least once a year especially at the onset of winter. you can find an excellent range of replacement wiper blades on Amazon. Alternatively, as long as the wiper blade is not too worn you can purchase one of the very useful and quite clever inventions that can retrim the edge of your wiper blades effectively giving them a new edge and clearing the groove that helps them flex whilst making them last longer.
Sometimes all that the wiper blades need is a good clean on the edge were dirt and grit can accumulate that will cause streaking and blurred visibility. A common mistake that will definitely damage the blade is leaving the windscreen wiper switch in the on position in very cold weather conditions. What basically happens is as soon as you get in the car and turn on the ignition the wipers will try and run due to being left switched on and the result is catastrophic on a frozen windscreen and results in the blade being dragged across ice, this will obviously damage the edge of the blade! In the worst case scenario it could also damage the wiper motor or simply blow the fuse that protects the circuit. The same applies to the rear wiper but usually in this case the actual motor can become damaged due to the plastic gear driven shaft inside the motor becoming stripped of its teeth. Just have a look at how many VW/Audi hatchback style cars rear wipers are stuck in the middle of the rear screen to get an idea of just how many people make this simple mistake.
The windscreen wiper arms can become stiff over time due in part to corrosion and dirt or particle accumulation at the pivot joint, this in turn allows the wiper arm to lift ever so slightly enough to reduce the pressure of the wiper blade contact with the windscreen itself. In the situation with a relatively new car or new wiper arm the movement is expected and works very well. The movement is often caused by the “lift” effect whilst driving at speed and the spring located on the underside of the arm assists in maintaining good contact with the windscreen. this lift and return effect can be inhibited due to the arm becoming stiff at the pivot point and the spring is no longer effective at pulling the arm back toward the windscreen. A simple test is to pull the wiper arms upwards and then lower them and see if they move freely and check along the line of the wiper blade to make sure it is making good contact all along its length. The problem of a stiff or seized wiper arm can be solved by removing the arm from the vehicle first. Properly cleaning the pivot point and then applying some release agent like WD40 or AC90. (WARNING never ever spray any lubricant onto the wiper arm pivot point without first protecting the windscreen from overspray!) If you do get any on the windscreen always, always remove by wiping with a suitable solvent degreaser before attempting to drive. These lubricants are great for getting the arm moving freely again but won’t last long as they are designed to “gas off” and so quickly lose their lubrication properties resulting in a stiff wiper arm again just days later. The correct solution is to free off the pivot point first then apply some light spray grease to the pivot point from the underside. If the arm is badly worn or corroded the best bet is to replace it with a new arm.
Windscreen contamination probably causes more problems than most people realise. It’s not really the outside of the windscreen because that will get washed by the rain itself and or the windscreen washer system. The inside of most windscreens get oxidised over time and must be effectively degreased. If the screen is oxidised you will find that it will mist up much more quickly especially in damp weather conditions. You will probably also find that you need to run the aircon or the blower motor more just to keep it demisted. A good degreaser is essential to remove oxidised residues. The main causes of this is smoking and vaping whilst driving, these activities will tend to cause the screen to oxidise much faster. Of course normal exhalation from breathing will also cause it but it takes much longer for the screen to become contaminated.
Another cause of oxidisation to the inside of the screen is the cabin or pollen filter. This is responsible for filtering all of the air that passes from the outside of the vehicle to the inside of the cabin. These should be changed in line with the car manufacturers service schedule but is often overlooked. The worst one I every came across was an 11 year old Ford Mondeo and the filter had never been changed, the blower motor sounded very asthmatic! After changing the pollen filter the motor ran much more efficiently with a much higher output volume of air and it smelled a lot cleaner too! check yours today if your blower doesn’t seem very strong.
Rain X is getting very popular with car drivers and it should be, its a great product that does exactly what it says. Many years ago as a young motorcyclist I was introduced to this product by a seasoned veteran of motorcycling and I have used it ever since. By applying to my helmet visor the rain simply dissipated rapidly leaving a much clearer field of view, essential I am sure you would agree when riding a motorcycle in the rain! It can also be applied to an exterior glass windscreen and works brilliantly. It is very effective at repelling rain sleet and even snow! It will leave you with a much safer and clearer field of view and can now be added to your windscreen washer bottle so it is reapplied every time you wash your wind screen, fantastic! An essential addition for any motorist.
There are many more reasons and solutions for poor windscreen wiper performance but I think we have covered the majority of what most people can do easily to improve visibility.