Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Single windscreen wipers: nice or rice?

One of the most controversial features in street cars, altough greatly popular in race cars, are the single windscreen wipers. Used in low-cost cars like the early Fiat Uno, and also in some higher-end models such as many Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the 90's, it's often regarded as an undesirable feature.

In opposition to a widespread myth, which reports single wipers to prejudice visibility, they're widely used in race cars due to their benefits in this aspect: since the driver's seat is usually lower than in a street car, an average dual-wiper setup sits too high and ends up reducing the driver's visibility, while with a single wiper set to rest either standing in the middle of the windshield or laying in the passenger side, the prejudices are minimized. Also, due to the wider sweeping pattern, it can wipe more efficiently and cover a bigger portion of the windshield.
It's worth to note that, with a dual-wiper setup, which usually sweeps from the passenger side to driver's side, is that it dumps water right in the driver's field of view before it's cleared off...
Other features favorable to single-wipers are the lower weight, altough it doesn't look so significant at a first sight, and an improvement to the aerodynamics since it's one less thing to get dragging when the vehicle runs.
Then, in a racing environment it's desirable for performance while in a street car it helps to decrease fuel consumption at the long-term operation.
So, despite the occasional criticism from the haters, who quote single-wipers as a ricers' deal, it has some undeniable practical purposes in street cars...