Windshields can have debris that may not be easily wiped off with a windshield wiper, especially when the debris is dry. Rain is not always present to help the debris loosen up. As such, it can be very useful to have a fluid that is automatically dispensed when required. In 1936, three decades after the first windshield wiper was created in 1903, the first wiper fluids were offered as an option for purchased cars.
Fluid is sprayed onto the front of the windshield using a button/lever found in the car. When the button is activated, the fluid is pumped. Soon after, the best wiper blades automatically starts wiping. Some vehicles have a heating system to pre-heat the fluid before dispenses. The added heat aids in melting ice sheets or other debris that would otherwise be hard to clean under cooler conditions.
Windshield wiper fluids are a combination of a detergent and a few solvents. The most widely used ingredients are a homogeneous mixture of water and methanol. Methanol is more concentrated when sold for colder climates, and more diluted—with distilled water—for warmer climates. The fluids usually contain a solution that helps prevent freezing, called anti-freeze. Otherwise, instead of cleaning the windshield, the fluid may end up becoming ice and covering it. Anti-freeze substances can be made of methanol. Methanol freezes at temperatures below -143°F/-97°C, therefore it is very suitable for the winter times. However, methanol is very harmful when inhaled or ingested. Other less potent substances include ethanol and ethylene glycol. Concerns have been raised regarding using alcohols (all substance previously named) as cleaners due to their corrosive properties; alcohols can destroy metals and ruin cars’ components such as their coats of paint. Some drivers simply use water. However, unlike alcohol, water lacks antimicrobial properties. Microbes can accumulate and this can cause health issues to people who come in contact with the liquid.
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