Without windscreen wipers, you wouldn’t be able to see a thing in the rain or snow. But do you know how to take care of them?
Windscreen wipers and sprays are among the most important safety features a car has. So it’s wise to take good care of them, especially now that winter is setting in.
Windscreen wipers’ main job is to wipe away liquid. They can also get rid of dirt particles on the windscreen, of course, but this damages them. The more dried insect splats, fallen leaves, pine needles or other solid matter on the windscreen, the bigger the risk of microscopic damage to the wiper blades, resulting in less effective water dispersal.
2. Wipers aren’t ice scrapers
Does it matter if wipers freeze to the windscreen in autumn and winter? That doesn’t matter so much, but you should never turn them on when they’re frozen stuck. And pulling them free will almost certainly leave tears in the blades. The same applies if you activate your wipers when there are ice crystals on the windscreen. “That makes it a good idea – if you do have to park outside in freezing conditions – to put the wipers in the raised position so they aren’t touching the windscreen. If they freeze to the windscreen in their resting position beneath the bonnet, you have to de-ice the windscreen first. That takes a long time for one thing, and for another you need to be able to estimate when the wipers are no longer frozen stuck,” advises Pavel Švejdar, who is responsible for windscreen wipers and sprays at ŠKODA Technical Development.
All ŠKODA cars have what is known as “wiper delay”. If you don’t use the windscreen spray for a long time, the hoses carrying the fluid may be empty - then it takes a while before the activated pump forces the fluid into the nozzles and from there onto the windscreen. If you activate the spray pump and wipers at the same time, the blades could scrape over a dry windscreen surface. Put simply, your wipers are waiting for the fluid to hit the windscreen. For safety reasons, this function is only active up to a speed of 120 km/h.
3. Don’t let the spray nozzles freeze over
While we’re on the subject of freezing up, neglecting your spray nozzles in the cold months can lead to trouble as well. If you haven’t changed the wiper fluid for a freeze-resistant winter mixture, remember one important step. Get all the summer fluid out of the hoses as well, especially the long one leading to the rear windscreen, because frozen wipers are a nasty and unnecessary headache.
Filling ŠKODA cars with the wiper fluid is made easier by a Simply Clever feature: the tank’s neck is shaped like a funnel in newer cars. The funnel contains a 0.5 millimetre mesh screen, which is enough to keep out coarser impurities that could block the nozzles. And if you do spill a little fluid when topping up the tank, don’t worry: it won’t do any harm to the nearby engine parts. Oh, and by the way: in ŠKODA cars, the fluid tank has a volume of three litres, or five if the car has headlight sprays, or seven litres if it’s for the Russian market.
4. When should you replace the wipers?
Stick ’em up
How do we put the wipers on ŠKODA cars in the “service position”? Within ten seconds of switching off the ignition, press the wiper stalk down for more than one second. This will put the wipers in their almost vertical service position. Then we can pull them back and easily replace the blade. It’s also a good idea to leave the wipers in this position if you expect sub-zero temperatures or snow.
5. Mandatory headlight spray
To finish, let’s look at one more issue. First a number: 2.3 bar. That is the pressure at which your self-extending integrated headlight sprays operate. Seeing is important, but so is being seen – and these sprays help make you safer on the road. “Lots of people don’t realise, but dirty headlights can be dangerous. Some headlights emit a very intense light, especially xenon ones. When the headlight cover is dirty, the refracted light means they are more likely to cause glare for oncoming drivers. That’s why sprays are mandatory for this kind of headlight. For other types of headlight – like LED ones – the spray is for convenience rather than a necessity,” Švejdar concludes.
Did you know…
...that the activation of headlight sprays at the same time as the first use of the windscreen spray after the car and headlights are switched on is required by law?
...that only the “passing part” of the headlight is washed?
...that after the first washing cycle, the car is programmed to spray the headlights again the tenth time the windscreen is sprayed?
...that an authorised service centre can reduce the frequency of the next spray cycle to twenty activations?