AA Car Care: Windscreen 101
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Have you ever gone to the car on a frosty morning to find the windscreen and windows frozen solid? Have you ever been caught behind the wheel in the torrential rain and struggled to see the road in front of you?
As frosts and heavy rainfall are a given in winter, now is the most important time to ensure windscreen clearing systems are functioning correctly.
Did you know that you could receive a $150 on-the-spot fine for operating a vehicle with impaired vision? We’ve put together a guide to ensure your vision remains as unimpeded as possible.
Most vehicles on the road these days have air conditioning, which can be a godsend in hot weather, but did you know that it can help clear the moisture from the inside of your windows too?
This happens because the process of the air conditioner acts like a dehumidifier. If your windows start to fog, push the a/c button with the windscreen setting button, and your vision will be back to normal in no time.
If you know it’s going to be a sub-zero night, we recommend that you cover your vehicle or put it in the garage to keep the frost away. If you have a more high-tech “connected” car then you can often set a pre-heater or climate control timer. Some manufacturers, like Tesla and Ford, even have phone apps where you can operate a climate control system to pre heat the car in the morning before you hit the road.
If you are caught out by unexpected frost, avoid using the wipers until the ice is dissolving, to prevent wear. Start the car, turn the heat on and select the windscreen setting button, then turn on the rear and mirror demisters (if fitted).
Warm water (never boiling as this could crack the windscreen) will help dissolve the ice, or use an ice scraper – even a plastic bank card or your AA Smartfuel card would suffice – to remove any excess ice from the screen.
Most rental cars come standard with an ice scraper in the front glovebox.
Maintain your washer fluid
First things first - always make sure there’s fluid in your washer reservoir. To find your washer fill point, open your bonnet and locate the washer fluid reservoir cap, which is normally blue and dons a washer icon on top.
If the system contains fluid but fails to operate, the motor may have become stuck due to lack of use. In this case, try and find your washer motor, as it may require just a gentle tap. To locate the washer motor, follow the filler neck beneath the cap - this should lead you to the washer reservoir and motor. If you can’t find it, if it’s out of reach, or it still doesn’t operate properly, then you may need to visit an AA Auto Centre or AA Approved Repairer.
If using an additive, don’t mix different solution types as they might not be compatible with one other and could lead to blockages further down the line. Read the instructions on the bottle to get the correct concentration, or the liquid can become too foamy.
If your wipers smear in both directions you may have worn or dirty blades, a dirty windscreen, or even contaminated/poor washer fluid. If your blades are less than six months old, they may just need a clean with a cloth dipped in hot, soapy water. You can even rub the blade with some isopropyl alcohol afterwards to remove any residue.
If the smearing is only in one direction, the blades could be too hard or perhaps even the wrong size. Either way, the wipers require replacement.
Water beads that won’t wipe away
“Beading” is generally a good thing as it’s supposed to help the water slide right down your windscreen, thanks to good-quality washer fluid. Sometimes though, the water can cling to the glass and obscure your vision instead. This can be due to pollution residue and grime building up on the windscreen, which causes the water beads to stick.
We recommend giving your windscreen a good clean, ensure the fluid is up to strength, and maybe even treat the windscreen with a solution like Rain-X Water Repellent which is available online at aa.co.nz/shop.
The sound of wipers screeching or chattering away is bad enough, but this can also lead to smearing on the windscreen.
Once again, this can be attributed to a dirty windscreen or wiper blades, but it could also be a result of a bent wiper arm which reduces the blade tension or angle, essentially preventing the blade from working correctly.
Check for external blockages
The last thing to check is the windscreen washer nozzles, especially if your car has recently been polished. Dirt can get stuck in the opening and block the jets.
An easy fix is to take a pin and clean them out, but be careful not to disturb the nozzle alignment.
Let the AA help
Having issues with your windscreen, wipers or washer system? It’s more important than ever during winter to get any issues seen to.
Visit the AA Autocentre to find your nearest Auto Centre and our experienced technicians will be happy to help.
AA Shop stock a selection of quality products to ensure your windscreen remains as clear as possible whilst driving. Check out the Rain-X Anti Fog and Rain-X Water repellent to prevent vision problems before they begin.