Visibility is an important matter when talking about driving safety and often, the related subjects are lighting from the headlamps which will allow the driver to see ahead and spot hazards. However, even if the lights are super bright and can light up the road ahead for a great distance, the fact remains that you still need to be able to see clearly through the windscreen. In the daytime when lighting conditions are bright, perhaps this is not an issue although a dirty windscreen would still affect forward visibility.
Visibility will obviously be seriously affected by the rain falling on the glass and if not wiped away, its accumulation will make driving dangerous because the driver cannot see ahead properly. We have to thank the inventors of the windscreen wiper who came up with the idea in the early 1900s, providing a device which could automatically wipe away the water from the windscreen at periodic intervals.
The wipers worked in an arc which cleared a sufficiently large area and while most carmakers installed two wipers to cover the entire windscreen, some (like Citroen) used a single long wiper blade which wiped an area from one side to the other side.
For Malaysian motorists, windscreen wiper blades are obviously very important because we get a lot of rainy days – like this time of the year when we start heading into the northeast monsoon season. For most motorists, however, the importance of having good wiper blades may not be so evident. Like tyres, wiper blades (also made of rubber) wear out at a slow pace and the change in their performance is so gradual that it is not noticed until the wiping quality is really poor.
While wiper blades can last some time, they will eventually wear out or the rubber will deteriorate. The extremely high temperatures of the glass at noon (try touching it when the car has been parked in the open) can affect the lifespan of the rubber too. Dirt and tiny particles will also cause erosion of the smooth edges and reduce wiping quality so there are streaks or smears. Finally, after a while, squeaks might be heard which are signs of aging rubber which has started to harden.
It should be noted that the windscreen wiper system actually has two main parts – the motor which operates each wiper blade, and the wiper arm on which a rubber wiper blade is attached. This idea has been in use for a long, long time and is practical in that the wear-and-tear part – the blade – can be replaced on its own when worn out rather than replacing the motor as well. This saves the motorist money in the long run, and makes it easier to periodically replace the wiper blade to ensure good wiping quality.
Where wiper blades are concerned, Bosch is one of the leaders in the industry. It is one of the numerous automotive parts that the company makes and is in fact among the older ones as the earliest Bosch wiper blades were produced in 1926. And as car designs changed, Bosch also came up with innovations to ensure that superior wiping quality was maintained.
For example, when windscreen glass gained a curvature for aerodynamics, Bosch came up with wiper blades that had joints so the blade would be able to remain fully in contact with the surface. Rising speeds also required further innovation and Bosch developed a mini-spoiler that would press the wiper blade onto the glass firmly.
In 1999, Bosch developed the world’s first ‘flat blade’ or frameless windscreen wiper blade. The key distinctive aspect of this wiper blade is arm level pressure distribution throughout the whole wiper blade length. It ensured high quality of glass cleaning and became a standard feature on expensive models initially, gradually moving downwards to lower-priced models (the Proton Iriz uses such wipers). Unlike other supposed flat blades that may contain multiple joints, a Bosch flat blade is a single segment that has no clamps or joints that avoid having water trapped to cause backsplash.
The AeroTwin is a high-performance wiper blade that is particularly suited to withstand Malaysia’s tropical environment. Its blades are coated with a proprietary Power Protection Plus polymer that makes the blades robust and resistant to temperature fluctuations, thereby increasing its service life. The innovative rubber technology ensures perfect wiping performance with gentle wiper action. Special truncation of the cleaning edge and a two-component rubber eliminate the smallest particulars of dirt and water drops in one motion, preventing ‘weeping’ and ‘bleeding’ lines. The coating also reduces friction between the blade and the windscreen.
The AeroTwin is also equipped with two Evodium springs that span the entire length of the wiper blade, creating a uniform pressure throughout the wiper blade against the windscreen. The uniform pressure also prevents the edge from wearing out unevenly, contributing to the longer service life. Furthermore, its aerodynamic spoiler prevents the wiper from lifting off at higher speeds by generating a downforce. These factors ensure a consistent and reliable wiping performance under any condition.
While Bosch is a global supplier of windscreen wiper systems, including wiper blades, to most carmakers, it also offers a range of wiper blades that can be used as replacements for a very wide range of vehicles sold in Malaysia. In fact, the company has a wiper blade for almost every model on the road – including models that even go as far back as the 1980 Toyota Corolla KE70.
The secret to being able to offer such a huge variety of wiper blades, especially as more different models are being sold, is due to the use of a durable universal clip which attaches the blade to the end of the wiper arm. Bosch too contributed this innovation to the industry and helped promote commonisation while still enabling flexibility in design of the wipers. The European auto industry adopted the idea while in Asia, carmakers also used a similar approach and Bosch also has a universal clip to suit Asian models.
While we often recommend that you should use Genuine Parts, ie those sold by the manufacturer of your vehicle, when replacing parts, you can still use parts from other companies – provided they are reputable companies like Bosch which, as mentioned earlier, also supplies the same parts that are fitted on new vehicles. The quality should be comparable and with a company like Bosch, which has been developing and manufacturing wiper blades for decades, you also get the latest technology.
Installation of the wiper blades is quite simple and you don’t need to go to a service centre to do it. In fact, if you bought it from spare parts shop, the guy will probably help you do it for free. Or you can follow the simple instructions on the package as well as watch a video online.
Prices vary depending on the type of Bosch wiper blade you require. Appropriately, for models at the lower end of the market such as the Perodua and Protons, the prices are below RM50 a pair for the EcoPlus range while the more premium high-performance Aero Twin series will be RM90 and higher, depending on the model. Bosch dealer, accessories stores and some online shopping sites sell the Bosch products, and you can get good discounts from the latter from time to time.
THE BOSCH AEROTWIN PLUS EXPERIENCE
I had an opportunity to try the AeroTwin Plus wiper blades this month an excellent time to see how well they work as the rain has been heavy. As promised, installation was very easy and it was actually removing the old wiper blades that took time and effort because they had been on for a few years already. The clips had ‘locked’ up and required a lot of pulling to get them off. The Bosch adapter clip is really a clever little thing and can be attached intuitively too. You don’t need any special tools or long fingernails either! This is as good as using genuine parts which have a perfect fit and are easily installed. Fortunately, thieves don’t target wiper blades!
The previous wiper blades were already beginning to show deterioration; though not squeaking, there were some areas that did not seem to be wiper, suggesting that the blade contact with the glass was no longer uniform. I thought it was some oil but even when using a strong windscreen washer fluid that should have removed oil, the same patches remained unwiped which was irritating though visibility was not impaired.
On the day the AeroTwins went on, it rained and although I had not planned to go out, I did so right after the installation. I was rather eager to see if this was one of those products that would ‘work as advertised’ and out into the rain I went. With the first wipes, it was very clear (no pun intended) that these wiper blades remove water effectively. I watched the blades swing across the glass and although the rubber flexed, the contact seemed so firm that water could not slip underneath and was pushed away. At higher speeds, the same high quality was maintained and even at the fast wiper speed, the glass was wiped clean with every sweep. But in a very very heavy downpour, while the wipers could wipe effectively, the speed and amount of water falling on the glass was too great. But still, because of the excellent wiping quality, I got a clear view of the road ahead briefly, which would have helped avoid ramming into another vehicle.
The part I can’t verify is Power Protection Plus which will only be evident over time. But as I said, the company is a global leader and one which has a long history of innovation so I am willing to believe their claims of long service life. The wiper blades are not expensive so they should be replaced when necessary. This should be considered an important safety item so don’t just ignore that necessity.