November 15, 2010

Windshield Wiper Defects Are A Winter Safety Hazard

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The California lemon law covers defects that impair the use, value or safety of a vehicle. This is called the “substantial impairment” rule. Only truly trivial matters fall outside the scope of the lemon law.

To our surprise, some manufacturers try to tell car owners that defective windshield wipers are not worth worrying about and that a failure to fix them is not covered under the lemon law. Nothing could be further from the truth. Are they confusing “little” with “trivial?” If you live anywhere but the Atacama Desert, windshield wipers are among the most important safety devices on any passenger vehicle.

Just as November weather is upon us, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall of Chrysler Jeep 2008 model SUVs for defective windshield wiper motors. NHTSA Campaign ID Number : 10V550 If you get this notice, respond right away.

The windshield wiper was first patented by a female inventor named Mary Anderson. During a winter visit to New York City in 1902, she noticed that the trolley car operator drove with the front window open because of difficulty keeping the windshield clear of blinding sleet. Bundling her own overcoat more tightly, she thought of a mechanism to control the blade from inside of the trolley and keep the draught out. She had a model made of her design and patented it shortly thereafter. In those days a patent was good for just 17 years, and the auto industry took it up as soon as it expired.

Most automobiles use two synchronized radial type arms, while some SUVs and station wagons use one pantograph arm. The intermittent windshield wiper was invented by Bob Kearns. His battle with Ford Motor Company was chronicled in the award-winning movie, “Flash of Genius.”

Although there is a range of acceptable design, properly functioning windshield wipers are standard safety features on passenger vehicles. Don’t let any car dealer tell you otherwise.