Safety is always an industry concern. One major factor contributing to safe driving is, well, the ability to see. Point in case, companies are manufacturing trucks with larger windshields for increased visibility. With all the effort truck manufacturers are putting into their products to increase this safety measure, it shouldn’t be a surprise when I say: You can take it one step further.
Hydrophobic windshield treatments (HWTs)—the likes of Aquapel, Liquid Diamond, NanoSkin, GTechniq G5 and, of course, Rain-X—can increase visibility during unfavorable weather and extend the life of your wiper blades. In fact, HWTs often times offer better, clearer visibility than wiper blades.
So, what is an HWT exactly? An HWT is a glass treatment which, when applied, creates an invisible, nonstick barrier that repels water and keeps snow and sleet from sticking by sealing the microscopic pores of the glass. When applied properly—the glass must be clean before applying the HWT—water beads up and rolls away from the glass, creating a clearer view of the road ahead. Granted, the effects are best at highway speeds of 40 mph or more. When used in conjunction with wiper blades, HWTs provide a safer, clearer ride.
And, proper application really is key. “A lot of people tend to spray it directly on the glass and then wipe it. If you do that when the windshield is hot, it can dry too quickly before you get it completely applied, leading to an uneven application,” says Ron Fausnight, group technical manager, Chemicals and Appearance Products, ITW Global Brands Technology Center.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
Research is an important step when looking into new products and services for fleet optimization and safety practices. Data doesn’t lie and neither do the numbers. “What people may not realize is that HWTs can increase your reaction time when you see a road hazard,” says Fausnight. “Those who have applied Rain-X have been able to stop several car lengths sooner, which could help them avoid an accident. This testing was done a number of years ago by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). It’s an organization the OEMs use to do testing for vehicle designs. One of the things they did on their own was tried Rain-X to see how much better people could see.”
According to UMTRI’s 1997 study, The Influence of Hydrophobic Windshield Coating on Driver Visual Performance, “Participants were able to detect targets of smaller subtended visual angle through a hydrophobically treated windshield than through one that was untreated and also detect objects of smaller subtended visual angle in the daytime condition as opposed to nighttime.”
While the treated nighttime condition was not statistically different from the untreated daytime condition, the untreated nighttime condition was statistically worse, resulting in the poorest results. Or, simply put: Overall, treated windshields allow for clearer visibility.
BREAKING DOWN THE FACTS
So, what benefits come with HWTs? Well, let’s break it down:
Clearer/increased visibility: This dominant benefit offers faster brake/reaction time to obstacles.
Decreased maintenance: Because HWTs decrease the need to use wiper blades as frequently, adding an HWT to your fleet PM schedule can allow for decreased downtime when wiper blades go bad, detach, or if a wiper arm or wiper motor goes bad.
Decreased cost: The use of HWTs can prolong the life of wiper blades and associated parts (i.e., wiper arms and wiper motors), meaning decreased replacement part frequency.
HWTs decrease cost in another way, as well. A 3.5 oz container of Rain-X runs about $3.99 at aftermarket parts stores such as Advance Auto Parts. And, that 3.5 oz bottle—which offers 16 applications—can last a long time. On the other hand, a top-of-the-line wiper blade, such as a Bosch Icon or Triflex Onyx, costs about $24.99—per blade. That’s a pretty significant difference.
EVERYONE NEEDS A FAILSAFE
So, let’s say you’ve spent your entire driving life using wiper blades. It’s what you know; it’s what you love. Some geographic conditions are just not conducive to such a way of life, however. And, not every fleet can rely only on wiper blades 100 percent of the time.
“At SEMA in Las Vegas, every year, we hear from people who live in the dry desert areas with lots of sun where they can’t keep wiper blades on their vehicle because the rubber will rot. They’ll buy a brand new blade and by the time they finally need to use it, after months of sitting in the sun, it’s broken,” says Fausnight. “The rubber just doesn’t hold up, so they decided to not use blades at all and only use Rain-X.”
While this situation isn’t applicable to all fleets, what is applicable is that relying on only one solution can often be detrimental. When you’re on the road in the pouring rain and one of your wiper blades decides it has had enough, having a failsafe can keep you from having to pull over and wait—or find the nearest parts store. Because time costs money, and customers are relying on you or your driver to be on time, the best practice is to cover all your bases.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Find out more about Rain-X HWT and other Rain-X products and services, visit www.rainx.com.