Imponderables: The great windshield wiper debate

There are only two kinds of Minnesota drivers in winter: The ones who do this, and the ones who don’t.

Getty images/File/ Jonathan Nackstrand

It is of questionable value and meaning. In freezing rain, theoretically, it could prevent breaking the wiper when pulling it out of the ice. This, however, requires an ice pack equal to or greater than that which currently resides atop Lake Superior.

Otherwise, it seems to those of us who don’t do this, pulling out the wiper from an ice-cased window provides a starting point (some clear glass) for the scraping.

“Putting your windshield wipers up is a good way to make it not snow,” this commenter on a discussion board observes. “It says you actually believe the forecast.”

In Minnesota today, it didn’t work.

Discuss. Also post other photos of people doing strange things with their windshield wipers.

  • Dave

    I noticed this for the first time last year, and come to think of it, it’s a story just made for this column.

    I figure that people do it because other people do it. Monkey see, monkey do. I don’t do it. The main reason is because some genius at GM decided to partially obstruct the wiper arms on my car, so it isn’t easy to do. But I also don’t do it because I feel it makes no difference.

  • CHS – St Paul

    I do it when it’s snowing, or supposed to snow. Two main reasons why:
    1) When they are down they sit right above the engine compartment, where it’s a little warmer. Snow falls and buries them, the snow melts a bit and then makes ice. Ice in the wipers makes it so they don’t work as well, and leave big streaks when you use them. I’d rather lift them up before than break the ice out after it snows or have to slap them against the glass until they are clear.
    2) It’s much easier to sweep the hood and windshield free of snow with the wipers up.

  • Jack Boardman

    I’ve done that in the past and it made little difference. No longer bother.

  • Andy

    I started doing it while living in Portland, Oregon for two reasons:
    1. The ice storms out there will sheath your wipers in 1/2 inch or more of ice. Since it’s almost always raining there in the winter, the likelihood of accidentally leaving your wipers on is higher than usual. I knew enough people who burned through wiper motors and broke linkages doing that, especially since the roads were usually free of ice before your car was.

    2. Snowfall rates in the Cascades can be 1-2 inches an hour on a medium day. Coming back from a ski/snowshoe adventure means a lot of snow has melted on to the windshield and wipers and then piled another 6 or more inches on top. That’s a lot of work to do after a long day on the mountain; any little bit to help reduce that work was nice.

    That said, my wipers are down today. I’m sure they’ll be overly icy when I leave in a little bit. And I’ll probably wish I had left them up.

  • Jack

    Love the bird sitting on the wiper blade!
    Didn’t have to worry the wiper blades today – I opted to work from home so as to avoid the afternoon commute.