The Invisible Windshield Wiper: A Superhero to the Average Car Owner

The wintry season is nearing. Are you going to be ready for it?

One of the worst things about winter is the precipitation. Many parts of the country spend long weeks buried under snow and ice—and even those that don’t see increased frozen precipitation often see more rainy days.

Because as drivers we make the vast majority of our decision from visual cues, a clean, clear windshield can be vital to our safety. Which is where a water-repellent glass treatment comes in.

These specially formulated chemical solutions are applied to windshields, where they form a bond with the glass and help to repel rain, sleet and snow, in effect creating an “invisible windshield wiper” that can vastly improve visibility in wet, wintry weather. When water hits the surface of a windshield treated with this product, the chemical compound in the treatment causes the water to bead and roll off the windshield.

The benefits of water-repellent glass treatment are many: improved all-weather visibility and safety; increased driving comfort; and easier removal of visibility-hindering objects like frost, ice, salt, mud and bugs.

“You can see better through your windshield (by using a water-repellent glass treatment),” said Warren Augenstein, a product manager at Shell. “It acts as a third, invisible wiper blade that clears your view by repelling water, increasing driver safety.”

Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it. A university-administered test found that water-repellent glass treatment improved the driving response of a person up to a full second by increasing visibility in wet conditions. To put that into perspective, that’s about four car lengths of extra stopping distance at highway speeds—a distance that can mean the difference between a close call and an expensive, bumper-crunching accident.

Also, because water is more easily removed, these treatments can also make removing snow and ice easier, saving your fingers from frostbite on those bitterly cold winter mornings. In addition, the treatment helps wiper blades be more effective by beading any moisture on the windshield so the wipers can easily whisk it away.

Application of the treatment is quick and easy, something that can easily be performed by your automotive technician while your vehicle is being serviced. The treatment is generally applied with a sponge or other applicator and allowed to dry briefly.

Depending on the climate where you live, the water-repellent glass treatment can last as long as a year, but on average it should be reapplied every six months for best results.

“It depends on the local weather conditions and climate. If you live in Southern California, where it hardly rains, it may last (a year or more). But, if you live in the Northeast where it rains every other day, it may only last about three months,” Augenstein explained. “I would recommend a new application every six months on average, or as soon as visibility starts to become impaired in wet weather.”

Safety is no small matter on wet, slick winter roads, where every last bit of visibility can help you avoid an accident. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible for winter driving by asking your service technician for more information about water-repellent glass treatment.