Windscreen wiper

A windscreen wiper (windshield wiper in North America) is a device used to wipe rain and dirt from a windscreen. Almost all automobiles are equipped with windscreen wipers, often by legal requirement. Confusingly, some legal systems require wipers without requiring a windscreen.

A wiper generally consists of an arm, pivoting at one end and with a long rubber blade attached to the other. The blade is swung back and forth over the glass, pushing water from its surface. The speed is normally adjustable, with several continuous speeds and often one or more "intermittent" settings. Most automobiles use two synchronised radial type arms, while many commercial vehicles use one or more pantograph arms. Mercedes-Benz pioneered a system in which a single wiper extends outward to get closer to the top corners, and pulls in at the ends and middle of the stroke.

Wipers may be powered by a variety of means, although most in existence today are powered by an electric motor through a series of mechanical components, typically two 4-bar linkages in series or parallel. Early wipers were often powered by manifold vacuum, but this had the drawback that manifold vacuum alters depending on throttle position and is almost non-existent under wide-open throttle; the wipers would slow down or even stop. This problem was overcome somewhat by using a combined fuel/vacuum booster pump. Some cars, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, had hydraulically driven wipers.

Most all windscreen wipers operate together with a windscreen washer; a pump that supplies water and detergent from a tank to the windscreen through small nozzles, mounted on the hood/bonnet or on the wipers.

Some automobiles have small 'windscreen' wipers/washers on the headlights or wipers on the back window as well.


Mary Anderson is said to have invented the windshield wiper in the United States, where she patented the idea in 1905. The idea was initially met with resistance, but was a standard feature on all American cars by 1916.

In 1921 the first British patent for windscreen wipers was registered by Mills Munitions of Birmingham, England. However, the first designs of the windscreen wiper were actually credited to Józef Hofmann, who curiously had no profession whatsoever in such an occupation - he was one of the most famous pianists of the 20th century.

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