I'm an atheist, but after spending way too much time today trying to figure out how to put new wiper blades on our cars -- each of which has a different kind of wiper -- a prayer to the Automotive Gods seems in order:
Please put this thought in the mind of every car manufacturer CEO -- we shall all agree on one type of wiper arm for every car we make.
I recommend that this be the J-hook type. It sure seems to be the simplest. Our 2014 Toyota Highlander has that type of wiper arm. I have no problem taking the old wiper blades off and putting new ones on a J-hook arm. But the image above shows five other types.
Amazingly, a Google search led me to a Chinese company that sells wiper blades that come with twelve different adapters for various types of wiper arms that exist around the world.
That's eleven too many.
A saleswoman at our local AutoZone store would likely agree with me. I went in looking for wiper blades for the 2017 VW GTI that I'd bought last November. I dutifully looked in the book hanging by a hook in the wiper blade area that showed which brands of blades fit on different types of cars.
Under 'VW GTI" it didn't have a 2017 entry. But I figured that what worked for a 2016 GTI should fit a 2017.
So I bought two Bosch ICON blades for my car. Daring to be un-macho, I asked the woman who sold me the blades if she'd put them on the car for me, telling her, "You know much more about installing wiper blades than I do."
Walking out to the parking lot, she took off one of my blades. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting the replacement blade on the wiper arm. Finally she gave up, walked back into the store, and did some fiddling around on her computer. Eventually she told me, "These are the wrong blades. You need the Bosch OE blades."
She issued me a credit on the wrong blades, then sold me the new blades. We went out to the parking lot again. But she still couldn't get the blades to fit on the wiper arm. Back we went inside to return the second set of blades. I felt bad. She'd put in quite a bit of time for zero sales.
Since my GTI was due for an oil change, I had the VW dealership put on new OEM wiper blades for me. Checking Amazon, it looks like there are indeed Bosch blades that fit my car's wiper arms, but they're pretty specialized.
I just don't get why there are so many different types of wiper arms that require different adapters. I'm no automotive genius, but I'm 69 years old and have driven various kinds of cars since I was 16. All wipers seem the same to me. The purpose of a wiper arm is to hold a wiper blade that then moves back and forth and keeps the windshield clear of rain.
Every wiper blade I've ever owned has clicked into place and never fallen off. So again, why so many different types of wiper arms, since they all do the same thing: hold a wiper blade.
This is a photo of the installation instructions for the Bosch blades I got for our 2015 Chevy Volt (on the left) and our 2014 Toyota Highlander (on the right).
As I mentioned before, the Highlander has a J-hook wiper arm, which must be the most common, since the standard Bosch wiper blade, such as 26A, only has pleasingly simple instructions for the J-hook. But the OE (Original Equipment?) blades for our Volt show instructions for four different types of wiper arms.
I'm not the most mechanical guy in the world, but I'm halfway competent at putting on wiper blades. I was really confused by the rather cryptic diagrams on the OE package, partly because none of the wiper arm types looked exactly like the Volt's arms.
I actually thought that the Bosch package was missing an adapter because I couldn't figure out how the blades could fit on the Volt's wiper arm. I then found a You Tube video that gave me the Aha! moment: I was supposed to take off the cover on the Bosch OE blades and not use it!
Once I did that, bingo, I had the new Bosch blades on our Volt. It just shouldn't have been anywhere near this complicated and time-consuming.
Like I said, the Automotive Gods should decree that every car use the same type of wiper arm. It'd make buying wiper blades way easier, and seemingly would save money for blade manufacturers also.
Hm, I think the Gods of Commerce stopped listening to their better angels a
long time ago.
My career was software. But the malaise you speak of is very familiar. It's called
proprietarization. It's the vendor's dark art of making their product partially or
totally incompatible with competitors. You tweak the design every few years for
good measure. Keeps the dogs nipping at your heels a few steps behind.
Want to buy a cheaper, better, different... can't. You're stuck. You take what
Microsoft or Big Blue or Honeywell has bolted on under the hood and keeps under
lock and key. When "standards" and the "open source" movement started gaining
ground in the software world, an IBM tout once remarked infamously on its rise:
"Better be careful. You could get locked into that open source stuff."
Posted by: Dungeness | October 15, 2017 at 12:16 AM
WOW I thought I was the only one with that problem I spent 1 hour twiddling with that rear blade with a J-hook on my 2010 town and country van with that supposedly perfit blade which had NO attachment to it.Now i'm stuck with 2 blades which I cant find attach only for.Look I'm 82 years young what will it be I kick the bucket first or my grand kids will find de answer. SHUCKS
Posted by: Pierre | February 16, 2023 at 08:07 AM