Automotive Q&A

Learn about your Windshield Wiper Blades

How do windshield wiper blades work

Windshield wiper blades are responsible for keeping your windshield clean. They work like a squeegee; in a back-and-forth motion they wipe water, snow, wiper fluid, and other liquids or debris off the windshield. Windshield wipers are operated by an electric motor. The electric motor is attached to a worm gear, which transmits the necessary force to a long rod that sets the wiper arms in motion. The worm gear is able to generate the force required to move the wipers as fast as they need to move. The arms move the actual windshield wiper blades. The blades are made of rubber and must apply enough pressure to the windshield in order to remove all moisture without any streaks. The arms attach to the middle of each wiper blade, and each wiper blade has several arms that distribute the pressure onto the windshield evenly. Windshield wipers are basically the same on every car. They have two pivot points (one on the driver’s side and one in the middle of the windshield) that work together to remove moisture. This is called the tandem system, and it provides the most coverage to clean the area of the windshield through which the driver looks out. There are other systems that are used; these include the single arm system (used on Mercedes vehicles) in which a single arm (controlled) system extends and retracts as it moves, and the opposed system that has pivot points on opposite ends of the windshield, and the wipers move in the opposite direction. Windshield wipers operate at several different speeds. There is usually a slow and a fast setting, along with several intermittent settings.