Automatic Windshield Wipers


When I was 18, my car had manual windshield wipers.  Although this was not an actual “feature” of the car,

it was a necessity.  I did not know how to fix the windshield wipers. This was before I became a car mechanic. So, I tied a thick string to the wipers and would pull the string back and forth in a sawing action to clear the windshield when it rained.  This was not ideal.


Fast forward to 2018. I now own a car (2018 Mazda CX5) that has automatic windshield wipers. Cool, right? Well, yes and no. I prefer to have control over windshield wipers. Okay, maybe not manual control like pulling on strings, but control over when they turn on and off. It was one of the first things I wanted to turn off when we picked up the car.  You may be wondering why.

I was told by the dealership that broken windshield wipers were the number one reason for bringing these cars in for repair. Why? Because people keep the automatic windshield wipers on, and then they go through a car wash, and the wipers get mangled. Not a good thing.

My Preference

Most of the time, I turn off accessories like this. I certainly do not want to have to return to the dealership with my tail between my legs, explaining that I forgot to turn off the automatic wipers and went through a car wash. I know myself. I tend to make mistakes like this. As I have said before, this is a first world problem. So, I try to maintain a small degree of control and turn off these accessories.

Another reason why I shut off this feature is that I do not necessarily want to have the windshield wipers work on their own. I prefer to decide when the wipers turn on. Call me controlling, but sometimes, during a light sprinkle, I prefer to keep the wipers turned off. I can see just fine. Maybe it is just me, but I find it annoying to have the wipers flipping back and forth, obstructing my view, during a light rain.

More About Wiper Blades

This brings me to wiper blades in general. I recommend changing your wiper blades often.  I have never found a good way to “clean” wiper blades, although I have not done extensive research. I feel like it is pretty cheap insurance to buy and replace wiper blades once or twice a year. Wiper blades are rubber, usually, and will definitely wear out over time. So, I will add my two cents here and suggest you change your blades at least twice a year. If you do not want to change the blades yourself, some auto parts stores will actually install them for you.

On a side note, I tend to put a windshield coating (like Rain-X) on my windshield. I highly recommend this. But make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For instance, you might need to clean off the remaining residue after applying the substance. I forgot to do this once, and my wife complained of “an oily streaking” on the windshield. So, just be sure to follow the instructions. If you do this, you might not even need to use your wipers, in light rains, of course.


Overall, consider turning off the automatic windshield wiper feature. It is my opinion you will be better off.


Written by Gary Pradel