Most cars use a windshield wiper system with an electric motor connected to a wiper transmission to move a pair of wiper arms and blades. Some SUVs, station wagons, and multi-purpose vehicles also have a similar system for the rear window, using a single wiper arm and blade. Some luxury vehicles use a pair of miniature wipers for the headlights. The wiper control switch has several modes to change wiper speed, and in many cases to turn the wipers on intermittently. The windshield washers can also be considered as part of the wiper system.
Wipers, whether located on the windshield, rear window, or headlights, are used to clear rain, sleet, snow, and dirt. The wiper system also works together with the windshield washers to clean the windshield while driving.
Make sure that the windshield washer solvent reservoir is full so you can use your wipers to clear your view when driving. This is critical during the winter months. To help improve visibility further, consider a dirt and water repellent that you apply directly to the windshield. Running the system out of fluid can damage the windshield washer pump. Don't use water, as it does not provide anti-freeze properties and does not clean as well as washer fluid. Some cars have two reservoirs, one located in front under the hood and one located in back for the rear washer.
Check your owner's manual to find the locations of the reservoirs. Inspect your wiper blades frequently. For best results, replace the wiper blades twice a year, each spring and fall. When worn or damaged, bad wipers can do more than impair visibility; they can damage the windshield.
During winter, you may want to consider the use of winter blades, which have a protective boot that minimizes the chances of the wiper arm and blade freezing. Never use your wipers to try and clear ice and snow after your car has been sitting. The wiper system was never intended to be an ice scraper and over-stressing the wipers can cause damage to the wipers, the wiper linkages and transmission, and the wiper motor. If the windshield wipers don't work, or only operate in a certain mode, check the fuses first. Refer to your car's owner's manual for the location of the wiper fuse. If the fuse is OK, bring your vehicle to a professional service technician who can test and troubleshoot the wiper system.