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Let's Talk About Your Windshield Wiper Attitude

Illustration: Jason Torchinsky
CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.

I’m pretty sure that, overall, most of us orthodox gearheads are at the very least, accepting of windshield wipers. While they may not be the part of the car that gets most enthusiasts’ giggle-glands pumping, sometimes there’s interesting setups, like Mercedes’ monoblade for example, or the triple arms of an MGB. This is why I’m so puzzled by something, and I want to see who else has encountered this as well: why are some drivers so loathe to turn on their wipers?


This is a phenomenon I’ve seen with many drivers over the years: when it’s raining, some drivers will staunchly refuse to turn on their wipers until the windshield is absolutely so pockmarked with water droplets that looking out of it resembles a Seurat painting.

I’ve even asked some of these drivers about this, and I’ve gotten a number of answers, but all of them pretty much boil down into some sort of inane stubbornness: putting on the wipers is admitting some kind of defeat, and once those wipers are on, Nature knows she has bested you.


Or something like that. Sometimes it’s couched differently, or the driver claims to find the wipers annoying, but it’s always like that. Hell, I’ve been scolded or mocked for putting my wipers on too early by some of these drivers before, as though turning them on when the windshield was starting to get wet is somehow embarrassing.

What’s going on here? And, keep in mind, this is different from the Rain-X devotees, who coat their windshields with the stuff until it’s so hydrophobic earthworms look at it like it’s Chernobyl, and then they gleefully drive in the rain with wipers off, making sure to tell any passengers in a two-mile radius that, no, they don’t need to turn on their wipers like some kind of crude animal, since they’ve solved the problem with chemistry.

Those Rain-X geeks are kind of their own thing.

So, do any of you know whatI’m talking about? How many of you are actually like this yourselves? What’s the thinking here?


Let’s talk about this. It’s important.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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The windshield has to be the right amount of wet. If I sense any amount of dry wiper on dry windshield friction, it drives me nuts.