How Do Windshield Wipers Work? (A Complete Guide)

Everyone knows how windshield wipers work, right? How hard could it be? You simply turn the lever to your desired position and you’re done! Well, that’s not always the case. The wipers are surprisingly complex pieces of technology and they do more than just wipe the water off your car’s windshield. How do windshield wipers work, then? Let’s dive into the details about these seemingly insignificant things.

What Are Windshield Wipers?

The wipers are mechanical devices that sit on the driver’s side of the windshield and clean it by wiping water, dirt, or ice off. They work in a stripe pattern with their two arms moving across different areas of the window at alternating intervals to ensure there is no spot left behind.

How Do Windshield Wipers Work?

But how does a car’s windshield wiper work? It turns out a lot is going on behind the scenes to make sure your visibility is top-notch when driving in the rain, snow, sleet, or any other type of precipitation. Here’s an overview of what happens as soon as you turn them on.

how to use windshield wipers
The blades rotate in unison. (Credit: State Farm / Flickr)

A single lever connects the two arms of the windshield wipers. Turning the lever rotates one arm at a time and wipes water from your window. They’re connected by some kind of pulley system and turning the lever makes both blades move in unison. They each have different patterns and timing, so they work together to clean your entire window without leaving any water or ice behind.

The arm of a wiper’s blade has a rubber squeegee on top shaped like a pendulum or L. It swings back and forth across the glass surface as well as pivots up and down around its “pivot point” to ensure maximum coverage while cleaning the window. You should change the wiper blades every six months for safety reasons.

So, the mechanism of wipers should be clear to you at this point. If you are wondering about how to use windshield wipers, there should be a dedicated switch for turning them on. The switch should be beside the turn signal indicator or around the steering wheel, based on the model of your car.


What Are Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers?

Rain-sensing wipers automatically turn on the windshield wipers when it starts to rain. Smart or adaptive technology is the key to detecting the moisture on the windshield surface.

These are optical sensors installed on the inside of the windshield. They project infrared light on the glass surface and measure the reflection to determine if the spot is dry or wet. The dryer a glass surface, the more light it reflects. Depending on the intensity of the reflected light, the sensors go into action and signal the wiper motor to start moving.


How do windshield wipers work? You must have got the answer by now. The main function of wipers on a car is to keep the windshield clean of rain and ice. By doing so, they prove a clear line of vision. They also serve as an important safety feature in preventing accidents or collisions, especially at night when visibility is limited.