Working With Wipers [Archive]

The tales of what these wipers have seen through the years.

In a few days, I’ll be huffing it up to Maryland on a much-needed road trip, stopping at my Uncle and Aunt’s house for a night in GA before staying with my parents for a few weeks. And because there’s going to be a lot of driving involved, I wanted to check the oil, put some air in my tires, and just make sure my engine hadn’t died (which has happened before, randomly flooded for literally no reason. Smoke out the tailpipe, had to ease onto the gas to choke the engine and get it to start). But there was one other thing that needed some attention... My wipers.

They’ve been squeaking for a while now and were absolutely awful in these humid Florida conditions. It’s a long-overdue operation, and one that I could pay anybody to do themselves... but no.

I headed over to Advanced Auto Parts to pick up a pair of 22 inch wiper blades with Rain-X technology to prove that I could do a mechanical thing, even if this is the least mechanical thing to do to your car... but shush... this is the first time I’ve done anything physical fixing to the car so this was a big deal...

The first thing to do was take off my old wipers. The instructions were thoroughly laid out on page 255 of my owner's manual. There’s a latch on the top you flip open, then you yank them out. Really straightforward stuff. However, I spend 30 or so minutes looking for a latch that simply doesn’t exist before realizing these aren’t Acura wipers, but some other brand (they looked and felt pretty cheap, and were kind of falling apart. Good riddance).

There were no labels or anything, so I haven’t a clue what kinds of wipers they are or how to take them off, so I spend another 20 minutes figuring that out.

After almost breaking the driver's side wiper, I got both of them off. Hurray! I’m halfway there, which means I can sing Bon Jovi.

Now, I’m sure anyone here with a mechanical eye knows that typical wipers don’t come with chewed bubble gum attached to them. Well, it’s not bubble gum, but for all intents and purposes, it may as well be, it’s a funny story regardless. (I apologize for the lack of pictures. We all decided it was best to not photograph or social media that night, so I hung onto the phones).

It was back in high school (which really wasn’t all that long ago) when my best pals and I were going to hang out and have a sleepover. Yes, guys have sleepovers too and they’re awesome. What wasn’t so awesome, at least to me, was that there would be alcohol involved. I don’t detest anyone for drinking whether they’re underaged or not, I just think it’s really really really really stupid that it’s the “cool” thing to do. This is a radical mindset for a college kid, but there you are. I think getting trashed is dumb and nothing else.

I was going to go that night and moderate, make sure nobody got absolutely hammered, and wasn’t looking forward to the miserable night ahead at all. There were a few of my pals (who I still love and hate) who I knew would be super drink happy and do shots or whatever. In short, I needed to babysit.

Well, before the drinking happened, we were hanging out in a parking lot messing around with our cars on dampened roads thanks to the light drizzling that took place that night. We skidded and swerved in an empty parking lot under the light of the streetlamps, and every so often we would ride each other's cars. Climb onto them while the other person drives around at like 10mph. It’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve done in high school, which is pretty tame compared to others. And while it probably wasn't all that cool, it made us feel like this:

Well it’s my turn for people to ride on my TSX. One of my pals climbs onto the driver's side of the windshield and just sort of lays there. Ha ha, it’s all fun and games, until my automatic wipers go off. He thought I was trying to get him off by force when, in reality, I had no control. I panicked as he just kept climbing on my car and when he finally got off my driver's side wiper blade broke off.

I... was... livid... I was the first person in this squad to have their own car, not a hand me down. Iris was (and still is) my baby, but this was also the first bit of real damage done to her. And yes, I’m using “her” here because she feels like a companion, just like my pals. I was in no mood to watch as all my friends got hammered, so I drove home in the rain with only one working wiper.

Now, my parents are pretty cool, and I trust them with everything. So while all my pals were keeping the alcohol a secret, I flat out told them days before. They weren’t going to tell, we’re stupid high schoolers after all, and most importantly they trusted me and my stubbornness to keep me out of trouble. So when I get home, I tell them exactly what happened with the wiper before storming straight to bed, in no mood for dinner or anything. Meanwhile, my dad, who has more knowledge of putting things together than I do, threw some putty on the wiper while I was sleeping. It’s been working perfectly (aside from the squeaking) for the past 2 years.

I wake up the next morning to a stream of texts that went something like this:

“Andrew is throwing up. He can’t stop throwing up.”

“God I’m freaking out”

“Harry had to tell his parents and they’re calling the cops”

“Andrews being rushed to the hospital”

“Holy sh*t”

Or something like that.

It wasn’t alcohol poisoning, which was good, Andrew just drank way too much (it was raspberry vodka, so go figure). Regardless, I dodged the BIGGEST bullet thanks to these crap wipers and my passion for my car. It’s one of the key moments I look back to whenever I wonder why I like cars. They’re awesome!

We laugh about it now, at least I do, and all their parents think I’m the absolute best kid in existence. They’re very jealous, and my parents love to joke about that (most of them come from religious families too... guess religion and morals are a bit different, huh?)

Yes, I took the yellow plastic protectors off... I'm stupid, but not that stupid...

Yes, I took the yellow plastic protectors off... I'm stupid, but not that stupid...

I thought about this whole story while waiting for the 15 minutes of Florida rain to go away, but after that, I got back to getting the new wipers on. I got so confused by the little plastic mechanism on the wiper that I completely took it apart just to try and figure out. The instructions and pictures weren’t exactly helpful either since the rain wet the paper and made the ink run. That was a real hassle, but after another 20 minutes the first of the two wipers snapped on with a very subtle and satisfying click.

Now that I’d finally gotten the hang of it, the second wiper went on easy. Still, a 10-minute job took about an hour thanks to my small brain, but I was greatly rewarded for my efforts. I ran the wipers dry for about 3 minutes. No issues, no dragging, and absolutely no squeaking. It was Tesla silent. And when I flipped on the wiper fluid, it somehow got quieter. Not only that, but my windshield looks super clean and clear. 10/10 would recommend Rain-X treated wipers.

A very happy "mechanic"

A very happy "mechanic"

Now, to dispose of the old wipers.

The broken wiper from my highschool story.

The broken wiper from my highschool story.

Since I’m heading to MD and will hopefully be able to socially distance with my pals, I decided to give the broken wiper to the guy who actually broke it. If he didn’t want it I would’ve kept it since I’m a sentimental sucker (elaborated on in this post) As for the other one...

I am sentimental, but I have no use for a crappy, off-brand, squeaky, unbroken wiper. It’s 22 inches, that’s big. And while it would make a fine memento to my first mechanical job, knowing that my pal is taking the other one, the more meaningful wiper, is plenty enough for me.

Besides, my car has new wipers, which I’ll be using for the next couple of years. That’s a win in my book.

I know this is no feat of engineering, but it’s a feat to me, which begs the question what was your first mechanical feat? Did you ride solo or work with a parent? I’m curious to hear some stories of people getting excited by fixing tiny things that seem so simple now.

Take care folks.

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