When it comes to driving safety, many drivers don’t realize the importance of windshields.
The wrong windshield washer fluid, less than stellar wipers, and a weak windshield washing system can pose serious safety risks. With the change in seasons, it is a good time to assess them to ensure maximum visibility.
Those are the highlights of new research released earlier this month by DEKRA, a company based in Germany that conducts automotive testing, inspection and crash research.
“As we enter the spring and frost abates, drivers are recommended to switch over to summer windshield washer fluid,” Thilo Kunst, a vehicle chemistry expert at DEKRA, said in a statement, “since the composition of debris on the windshield in the warmer months changes a great deal.”
Dirt and water stains on the windshield can hinder visibility, DEKRA’s safety experts said, which can impair drivers’ concentration and increase the risk of crashes. But seasonal changes are required, they said, noting that winter washer fluid is unsuitable in spring and summer.
For example, fluids designed for warmer months are effective in combating the types of debris that typically build up, like residue from insects. The solvents in winter washer fluids, however, which are geared to cut through frost and deicing, are often not appropriate for summer, as they frequently leave behind a dangerous film of lubricant.
“An unsuitable windshield washer fluid or just water in the washer reservoir can represent a true safety risk,” Kunst added. “Especially in the dark or when the sun is going down, light coming from up ahead and passing through a dirty windshield can cause glare, which impairs the driver’s vision, increasing the risk of accidents.”
And cleaning is important, DEKRA researchers said. “Fogging” and “magic dust” significantly hinders a driver’s vision. For example, if the inside of the windshield is not cleaned regularly, matte films of debris from things like dirt and cigarette smoke can reduce transparency and can cause undesired light dispersion on the windshield.
DEKRA recommends that car owners:
– get the “right” windshield fluid for the season;
– use up all the winter windshield washer fluid in the reservoir before changing to the summer mixture;
–however, if switching is too complicated, all-weather products with less antifreeze typically work during the transition from cold to warm weather; they clean well in the summer, but also provide protection against frost:
– avoid using dish soap and other household cleaners in washing fluid reservoirs, which can corrode plastic and paint, dissolve material, and cause stress cracks in headlamps that are made of polycarbonates;
– clean windshield regularly;
–if the wipers smear, occasionally wipe them down with a clean cloth and water occasionally;
–replace wiper blades that have become brittle or cracked in the winter, produce smears, or only clean part of the driver’s field of vision.
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