Automatic wipers – Just not clever enough for fog or light rain

ONE of the few irritations about my Ford Focus C-Max is that the “intelligent” automatic windscreen wipers just aren’t quite smart enough. Much of the time they’re great, magically varying the frequency and – in very heavy rain – speed of wiping pretty deftly, thereby saving me the trouble of manual adjustment. Quite frankly, I just don’t know how I managed without them. (That, should it not be obvious, was sarcasm intended for humorous impact. And now by explaining it I’ve clearly ruined the humour. Thank you very much.)

Nice car, shame about the not-quite-perfect auto-wipe

The auto-wiper inadequacy phenomenon arises under conditions of light rain, fog or snow. There’s a control on the auto-wipe setting that varies the sensitivity, i.e. more or less wiping for a given amount of moisture detected by the external sensor (for such I’m assuming there must be, unless there’s a tiny person living under the bonnet who peeks out of the radiator grille, decides how heavy it’s raining and adjusts the wipers by turning a dial). Sometimes when you’re lacking sufficient wipeage, you wind the sensitivity control up a notch or two and it behaves as required. Other times, however, you reach the maximum and still you are wipeless, forcing you ultimately to either knock the wiper switch all the way down for a single manual wipe, or to peer myopically through your increasingly runny and obscure windscreen until you can no longer see, thus causing you to have a nasty accident and lose your license, your no-claims bonus and your driver’s self-esteem in one dreadful and tragic swoop.

On balance, therefore, I tend to resort to the single manual wipe, repeated as required, thereby negating the energy / time / hassle-saving afforded by the auto-wipers under more favourable conditions. (Well, probably not, but it sounds good.)

What to do?

Wipe, darn you, wipe!

In the old days, wipers were on or off. Then they added a higher-speed constant wipe. Then they added a manual single wipe (or flick wipe). Then someone thought of intermittent wipe. Hooray! Then, in some cars, although never in one owned by me, someone thought of variable speed intermittent wipe, controlled by a wheel on the stalk similar to the sensitivity control on my auto-wipers. This was useful. I know, because I tried them on one of the big old Rover 800’s.

Clearly, then, for the ultimate set of wiper controls, what one needs is to supplement Variable Sensitivity Auto-Wipe with good old-fashioned Variable Speed Intermittent Wipe. Result: windscreen wiper heaven. I could have:

  • Single manual wipe
  • Normal speed continuous wipe
  • High speed continuous wipe
  • Variable sensitivity auto-wipe
  • Variable speed intermittent wipe

Ford, please take note. Or maybe some vehicle manufacturer has already done this. If you have knowledge of this vital motoring technology being available, please let me know.

Need to rest now; feeling a bit wiped out.

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One thought on “Automatic wipers – Just not clever enough for fog or light rain

  1. Pingback: Automatic Wipers on the VW Golf: No better than the Focus C-Max | Mark: My Words

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