Wiper blades are one area of maintenance where you often really get what you pay for, and a new premium option just opened up for owners of Jeep Gladiators and JL Wranglers. Jeep’s own “high performance” wiper blades promise better…performance…in a rather unconventional way. If this sounds like a gimmick, bear with me for a second. There’s no special compound at play here, but instead a different method of spraying wiper fluid that’s been around for several years now. Let’s take a look at how these new Jeep blades work and why you may have seen similar technology before.
In a typical windshield wiper arrangement, you have at least one blade and at least one separate windshield washer fluid nozzle located on the hood or in the cowl or even on the wiper arm. Hit the control for the washer function and a big spritz of washer fluid gets pumped onto the windshield. While a dose of this cleaning cocktail can help get dirt off your windshield, a fan-style fluid nozzle is hardly effective at evenly covering the entire swept area of the wiper blades. Enter, the high-performance part of Jeep’s new high-performance windshield wiper blades. New hoses redirect windshield washer fluid to the blades themselves, then 12 laser-cut holes in the blades let the fluid flow smoothly and evenly across the swept area of the wiper blades. This allows for more even application of washer fluid for thorough windshield cleaning when you hit the washer function. It’s rather ingenious, although Jeep isn’t the first manufacturer to do this.
Most high-end Mercedes models sold in the past decade or so can be had with a variant of this system dubbed Magic Vision Control. It’s a pretentious name, but Mercedes’ system does have some advantages over a more traditional setup. For starters, the washer fluid is heated, which means that ice can be melted off of the wiper blades. Pretty nifty, although far from the only perk.
Imagine you’re motoring along in your 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL 550 with the retractable hardtop down, Steely Dan on the stereo, and your toupee flapping in the breeze. Things are going well until an envious seagull decides to use your windscreen as a lavatory. Now there’s precisely one dollop of avian waste directly in your line of vision. In a lesser cabriolet, you’d shortsightedly reach for the washer function, only to have a mixture of washer fluid and bird crap mist over you like Axe body spray. That really puts the toilette in eau de toilette, don’t you think? Thankfully, Mercedes has thought of that. Because fluid doesn’t have to travel at enormous pressure to reach the surface of the windshield, Mercedes can control splatter.
While reduced open-top splatter is certainly nice, it’s certainly not the biggest benefit of in-blade washer nozzles. Mercedes-Benz claims that Magic Vision Control can reduce washer fluid consumption by up to 50 percent, all while improving safety. Wait, what? Well, when traditional washer nozzles absolutely bukkake your windshield with cleaning fluid, you experience a few seconds of not being able to see a damn thing. At 70 mph (114 km/h), a vehicle travels more than 200 feet (61.16 meters) in two seconds, plenty of distance for shit to suddenly hit the fan. Because these special blades don’t spray fluid across the whole windshield in one go, forward visibility is preserved. Overall, Magic Vision Control is more precise than arm-mounted nozzles or hood-mounted nozzles, plus the ability to blast ice from the wiper blades is pretty awesome.
While recent high-end Mercedes-Benz models are expensive, Jeep’s kit costs a mere $140 at your local Mopar parts counter. That’s not bad considering that the kit includes two sets of special blades, new wiper arms, and the necessary tubing required to send washer fluid up to the wiper blades. Granted, there are still some unknowns about Jeep’s kit. Replacement wiper blades likely won’t be easy to find at your local generic auto parts store, and winter performance without a heating system is still very much up in the air. Anyone who’s lived in a place with four fully-fledged seasons will know that ice buildup on wiper blades can get surprisingly thick, even to the point where winter-formula washer fluid can’t melt the frozen shackles of Jack Frost.
Perhaps the biggest known drawback to Jeep’s high performance wiper blades is that they only appear to have holes for fluid flow on one side. This means that the passenger side blade will be wiping across a fairly dry windshield on its way back down to its parked position, which can put extra wear on the blade. Many modern cars with traditional washer nozzles use an extended spray to keep the wiper blades lubricated through a full sweep, so Jeep’s high-performance setup will likely see slightly quicker blade wear compared to a standard setup.
We’ve reached out to Mopar for comment on replacement blade costs and whether or not the high performance wiper kit is fully reversible. In the meantime, this wiper kit looks like it could be a solid upgrade provided you live in a reasonably warm climate. The vertical nature of Wrangler and Gladiator windshields means they’re a magnet for bugs and mud, so a better way of spraying washer fluid feels like it’s worth a shot. As for performance in cold-weather climates, the jury’s still out. While these blades should do an awesome job of washing away salt stains on dry days, we’d need to test these blades to know if they’re still effective with ice coating the wipers.
Lead photo credit: Jeep