The most important safety system in a vehicle is the driver’s eyes. If the driver’s vision is impaired, it will have a direct impact on how the vehicle performs in emergency situations. Winter visibility is especially critical, no matter if you are in California or Alaska. As the days grow shorter and the weather patterns shift, being able to see clearly is critical.
Neglecting to address potential visibility problems when a customer brings their vehicle into your shop is not only a missed service opportunity, it is a safety issue as well.
Headlight bulbs are constantly being improved for longevity and contrast. Breakthroughs are not limited to the OEMs; most innovations make it to the aftermarket first. Headlight bulbs are one of the rare replacement items that have tangible value to the customer and provide benefits they can actually see. Premium bulbs use better raw materials for the filament, glass and gas to give off better light.
The key selling point for these bulbs is contrast. By using a “whiter” or “hotter” light color, differences in the shades of color or the grays of winter become more noticeable. This helps the driver see an icy patch on a salt covered road or a deer hiding in the trees.
Since headlights and other bulbs can differ in light color and pattern, it is recommended to replace the bulbs in pairs. Also, it is Murphy’s Law that when one bulb fails, the other one can’t be far behind.
Headlights are constantly being sandblasted. The scratches scatter the light and prevent the headlight from projecting its beam down the road. When the outer layer of the acrylic or polycarbonate has been removed, the materials become prone to UV damage and oxidation. The surface then turns into a milky yellow color that diffuses the light produced by the bulb.
Headlight replacement is an option, but it is possible to restore a headlight lens at a fraction of the price of a new unit. The typical process requires sanding and polishing the lens. The last step is to apply a sealer that can prevent oxidation. Kits with all the tools are available, but many DIYers lack the patience, skills or tools to get a professional result.
This is a service that you can offer to your customers. You can perform it yourself or sublet the service to a mobile service that can perform it in your parking lot.
Wiper blades are just like elastic — heat and the environment cause them to lose the ability to snap back into shape. For wipers, it is sun and exposure to ozone that can cause them to lose the ability to keep the blade’s edge in contact with the windshield. Cold temperatures can compound the problem by making the blade stiff.
How do you inspect wiper blades? Looking for cracks and tears is one method, but this will not reveal the performance of the blade. The tool to measure the performance of a blade is a spray bottle filled with water. When a car is in for service, spray the windshield to see if the blades can remove the water without streaks or chatter.
The main challenge for a winter wiper blade is snow and ice. On regular frame-style wiper blades, snow and ice can clog the frame and prevent the wiper from making even contact. Winter blades may use a rubber boot over the frame to prevent snow/ice buildup, and newer frameless-style wiper blades do not experience this problem.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Windshield washer fluid does not get the credit it deserves. These solutions are more than just water and ethanol or glycol. Many solutions use detergents and solvents to remove ice and snow from the windshield.
Windshield washer fluid does more than just clean the windshield — it protects the windshield and pump. The solution is formulated to act as a lubricant so the wipers will not scratch the coating on the glass. Also, it helps to lubricate the pump in the reservoir and keep the electric motor cool. Proper windshield washer fluid also acts as an antibacterial agent to prevent bacteria and algae from growing in the reservoir.
Using a premium washer fluid is a good practice for your shop and excellent advice for your customers.