Windshield wipers are your car’s first line of defense, avoiding accidents by giving you a clear view of the road. They’ve come a long way in the more than a century they’ve been in use. Here are a few of the significant developments in the history of these crucial automotive parts.
A Woman Invented Modern Windshield Wipers
As automobiles started to become more commonplace, it became clear that keeping the windshield clear was critical to safe driving. There were several attempts at creating effective windshield wipers, dating back to 1896. Today, the consensus is that credit for the invention of a working windshield wiper is due to Mary Anderson, and an American inventor who patented her “window cleaning device” in 1903. Even with the predominantly male presence in the automobile’s early history, we would undoubtedly have difficulty staying on the road without this woman’s invention.
Without windshield wipers keeping our view of the road clear, we’d be much more likely to end up with damage that would require a car windshield replacement or truck windshield replacement. It wouldn’t do for the wipers to block that view themselves, so we have intermittent wipers today. Robert Kearns was blind in one eye and had difficulty seeing through the constant wiping. He invented the intermittent wiper that pauses briefly between each stroke, making it much easier to see the road.
Windshield Wipers – Automatic Wiping Speed
The French vehicle maker Citroen was the first to make windshield wipers that automatically adjust their intermittent wiping speed. The 1970 Citroen SM featured wiper blades that would adjust their delay based on how much power the wiper motor was drawing. When there was heavy rain, the wiper would need more power to wipe the windshield, and the circuit would increase the wiping speed.
The Spring-Tension Blade
The inventor of the modern spring-tension wiper blade for curved glass windshields was Tri-Continental Corporation. The company, now operating as Trico, developed this style of wiper blade in 1917. Very early automobiles had flat windshields, but curved windshields required pressure from the blades to spread evenly along the curve. These blades keep modern windshields clear, avoiding accidents that could lead to costly RV windshield replacement or commercial windshield replacement.