Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2014   by Tom Venetis, Editor


Beam wipers gaining market share as vehicle makers, owners move to premium blade technology

Of all the things in a car that take a beating, the worst off are wipers. Exposed to the elements, extreme temperature changes, to summer sun and then winter snow and ice, a wiper’s life is a hardscrabble one. How often should wipers be changed?

Most will say anywhere between every six months and certainly once every year blades should be replaced in order to maintain optimum performance and to help make sure drivers have an unobstructed view outside the windshield.

Winter is particularly hard on even the best wipers. The cold temperatures, especially when dipping well below zero degrees Celsius, causes the rubber wipers are made from to become hard and brittle. Ice and snow can clog the mechanism holding the wipers to the windshield which will cause the wipers to skip nosily across the glass and do a poor job of removing snow from the windshield.

Summer has it challenges too: high heat will damage the rubber over time and dust and road debris will soon take the edge off the wipers. Over time, the driver will notice the wipers doing a poor job removing water from the windshield, causing streaking and obscuring visibility when driving in rainy weather.

Since one has to replace wipers regularly, there is a range of new aftermarket wipers that drivers can decide upon.

Patricia Lazzarotto, Canadian director with Trico Products, says today’s owners are looking for premium aftermarket products in order to maintain the value and life of their vehicle, and that includes wiper technologies.

“What we have seen and what our market numbers are telling us is that today’s consumer is moving to putting premium wiper products on their vehicles,” Lazzarotto adds. “People are moving away from the conventional metal blades and moving to premium blade technologies. Premium blades represent some 25-30 per cent of the blade technology sold today in the market.”

Trico has a range of premium wipers for Canadian drivers, with many featuring an aerofoil design that offers several significant improvements over traditional metal beam wipers. The one-piece design of the blades offers a consistent wipe and a low-profile design maximizes the line of sight of the driver.

Lazzarotto says the design lets the wiper blade make firmer “contact with the windshield and it is engineered to conform to the higher curvature of today’s windshields . . . and it is designed to reduce wind lift.”

A unique selling feature of Trico’s premium wipers, and a strong selling point for independent service shops, is the fact that the wipers are made to be universal, with only a single extra adapter that is included with the product. “We tried to simplify it and make it easy for the service technician.”

Under its Premium category, Trico offers a range of products: Trico Force, Trico Onyx, Trico NeoForm, Trico Flex and Trico Teflon Shield. For extreme weather and cold, Trico offers the Trico Ice, Trico Chill Teflon Edge and the Trico Chill.

Justine MacLauchlan, brand manager with PIAA Corporation, agrees that wiper technology today is moving away from the traditional metal frame to hybrid, flat blade technologies that offer many more advantages over the older style of wiper blade.

Starting this year, PIAA has a new blade coming onto the North American market, the Aero Vogue.

“It is a hybrid blade with a wind reduction cover and it works in two ways,” MacLauchlan says. “When the car is moving, (the wind reduction cover) pushes the wiper onto the window. As well, it has ‘pass through’ technology that keeps the blade from lifting off the windshield at high speeds. Other technologies allow air to get under the blade and at high speeds that moving air will lift the blade and cause chatter.”

MacLauchlan says PIAA also uses silicone rubber for its blade technology. As the blade operates, it will coat the windshield with a thin sheen of silicone. The silicone will cause water to bead at low speeds and allow the blade to more easily remove the water from the windshield. The silicone coating also helps reduce drag and wiper chatter.

Bosch is also getting onto the beam blade bandwagon as more vehicle manufacturers are now putting beam blades on their new vehicles as a standard feature. For the aftermarket, Bosch offers three beam blades: the premium Bosch Icon, followed by the Bosch Evolution and the Bosch Clear Advantage. The Bosch Icon uses a tension spring arcing technology to keep the blade firmly planted on the windshield and a shielded connector to protect against ice and snow buildup. The Bosch Evolution Blade uses a blended rubber material to resist road debris and the Bosch Clear Advantage blade is a competitively priced beam blade technology with a multi-adapter for easy installation.

ACDelco offers a Professional Beam Wiper with Spoiler that provides a uniform pressure across the entire blade length to improve wiper performance, while a spoiler reduces lift. No additional adapters are needed to install the wiper.