AutosWhy you should turn off your car's automatic wipers in winter: A costly oversight

Why you should turn off your car's automatic wipers in winter: A costly oversight

Even if there's only snow on the windshield, it's better to brush it off first to make sure there's no ice underneath.
Even if there's only snow on the windshield, it's better to brush it off first to make sure there's no ice underneath.
Images source: © Autokult | Aleksander Ruciński

10:30 AM EST, January 17, 2024

Winter poses various challenges for drivers. From dealing with difficult road conditions to frequently scraping windows, it's a tough season. Some drivers save time or tackle the lack of a scraper by defrosting the windshield with the ventilation or using conveniences like electric front windshield heating.

However, before starting the car, make sure that the automatic windshield wiper mode is not unintentionally switched on. This feature, originally available in premium cars, has gradually become common in less expensive segments too.

The feature's functionality is based on a rainfall sensor, typically located at the top of the windshield. It senses any contamination on the windshield and automatically activates the wipers. While this is handy during warmer temperatures and can adjust the wipers to the intensity of the rainfall, it might pose problems in winter.

If this feature remains activated, and the windshield is icy or frosty, there could be multiple adverse scenarios. Firstly, the wipers may scratch over the frozen glass, causing the rubber blades to chip. These chipped blades will consequently smear, rather than clear, dirt from the windshield.

Another potential issue is the wipers freezing onto the windshield. The engaged wiper motor may then dislodge the rubber blades from their fixtures. In both these scenarios, wiper replacement will be necessary. In the latter situation, drivers may instantly lose windshield wiping capabilities, creating a situation that is neither reasonable nor safe for driving.

Also, it may happen that the wiper blades freeze so strongly that when accidentally started, the wipers can't move. This could harm the wiper motor. The financial cost for this damage can amount to quite a few bucks and again, inhibit the wiping of the windshield.

The solution is simple: just remember to turn off the automatic wipers mode before getting out of the car, or before starting the ignition. This is not just applicable for cars with this function. The situation can arise simply by forgetting to turn off the wipers when arriving at your destination while it's raining.

Forgetting to do so could lead to one of the above scenarios the next day if the car is started before scraping the windshield free of ice or frost. It's worth noting that such negligence could potentially also lead to a fine. Also, it should be noted that idling at low temperatures with a cold engine is detrimental to the vehicle.

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