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Why Do People Stick Up Their Wiper Blades In The Winter?

Illustration for article titled Why Do People Stick Up Their Wiper Blades In The Winter?

Hello good people of Jalopnik, and welcome to your latest round of Letters to Doug, your favorite weekly column that includes a) letters, b) Doug, and c) comments about how the letter writer is an idiot and should be beaten with a pool floatation device.


Are you interested in getting beaten with a pool floatation device? You can be! Just send me your letter at Although I can’t promise I’ll share your letter with everyone else, I can promise I will laugh at you if you’re writing with concerns about your 2004 Audi Allroad.

This week’s letter comes to us from a reader I’ve named Paul, who is the last person on earth who hasn’t turned off the “Sent from my iPhone” notification on his phone. Although I do not know where Paul lives, it’s clearly somewhere snowy, but not so snowy that it gets snow all the time. I’m going to guess Columbia, Maryland. Am I write, Paul? (Paul says: Yes! Sent from my iPhone). Anyway, Paul writes:

Hey Doug!

Why do people stick their wiper blades straight up in the air during inclement weather? I mean, putting them up means putting them back down again. That’s like, twice the effort.

Please explain this madness!

Thanks in advance. Your loyal readership,


Sent from my iPhone

For those of you who live in warm climates that don’t get much snow, you probably have no idea what Paul is talking about. Well, here’s the situation: whenever the weather forecasters are predicting lots of snow, or a little snow, or freezing temperatures, or anything other than sunshine, a large contingent of human car owners stick up their wipers (i.e., they pull them out from the windshield) in order to prepare for the upcoming event. Then they rush to the store and buy bread, and milk, and cheese, and they post pictures on Instagram from the store in order to show how stupid everyone else is for rushing to the story to buy bread, and milk, and cheese.


In their mind, the wiper trick accomplishes the following task: by putting the wipers up, they won’t freeze to the windshield. Theoretically, this makes it easier to get going again after they clear out all the snow and ice following a storm.

I had to laugh, however, when I saw a lot of people doing this ahead of last week’s big storm that dumped so much snow on the Northeast that a wayward second-grader could’ve made as much progress walking through the snow as swimming in it. Because, people, I’m going to teach you something today: sticking up your wipers isn’t going to have any effect when there’s three feet of snow on top of your car.

And then there’s some question about whether it will have any effect at all, even with much less snow. I’ve never done this whole “stick the wipers up” thing, because I believe the real pros employ a different strategy: when I’m cleaning off my car after a blizzard, I first make sure the exhaust isn’t covered by snow. Then I clean a path to the door. Then I get in the car, and I turn it on, and I activate the windshield defogger and the rear defroster.

That way, the heat from the car melts away the snow and ice while I’m off working on clearing another part of the car somewhere else. In that situation, the car is working and I’m working, together, in harmony, like how Paul and his iPhone work together to annoy anyone he sends e-mail to.


Actually, that isn’t what I do. What I do now is, I get inside my car and I press the button for the heated windshield. I have this feature in my Range Rover, and it works beautifully. Yes, the power folding mirrors no longer work, and yes, one of the parking sensors fell inside the bumper last week. But by God, there are heating coils built into the windshield, and they work great. This allows me to laugh at all the snow-removing peasants as I blast past with my parking sensor beeping in a frenzy, because it thinks I’m about to hit the inside of my own bumper.

So anyway, back to the whole raised wipers thing. That’s why people do it, Paul. And if you really want to screw with someone before a big storm, just put their wipers back down. This will cause stress, and anger, and disappointment, until they discover it takes approximately four additional seconds to break their wipers free of any ice that’s built up on the windshield. Or, if they have a Range Rover, zero additional seconds. That time will instead be spent manually unfolding the mirrors.


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars, which his mother says is “fairly decent.” He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer.

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PotbellyJoe and 42 others

I’ll be honest, I never saw this when I lived in Michigan, it was only when I moved to New Jersey when I started to see people sticking the wipers up.

Of course this is also a place that claps when the pilot lands the plane.

They also tip their mailman at Christmas.

Being a native midwesterner I was unaccustomed to all of this. Thankfully, my wife is a lifelong NJ resident and she fills me in whenever I don’t do what I’m apparently expected to do in NJ.

By fills me in, I mean she says, “Joe, you moron, you’re supposed to...” and then tells me something outlandish that only this section of the world would ever consider doing.

I’ve lived here 17 years, I have never gone a week without a lesson.