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Have you ever asked yourself why race cars only utilize one wiper as compared to their production model counterparts? This is a question that boggles the mind, and has been asked over and over again in various online automotive communities, to which I haven’t found a satisfactory answer yet. All I’ve seen are haters saying “it’s cool on a race car but rice on a road car”. Now tell me, does that answer anything? Opinions on what’s rice and what’s not are mere personal preferences. Facts are what count.
Well I guess now is the time for me to get in touch with the geek side of me and explain to you guys the advantages and disadvantages of having the controversial Single or Mono Wipers. Here goes…
1. Weight Reduction
Race cars are usually fully stripeed-down and rebuilt with only the bare essentials, additional safety equipemnt, as well as go-fast goodies.
So yes, as lame as it sounds since wipers don’t really weigh that much, when race-prepping a car, every little bit counts when it comes to stripping down a race car to reduce weight.
2. Conventional Wipers Restrict Vision
Apart from weight reduction, lowering the center of gravity is another reason why race car builders go to such extremes when it comes to modifying their cars (e.g. chop-tops).
So once you install low racing seats which allow the driver to sit as close to the floor as possible to lower the center of gravity, you’ll see the reason why race car builders actually strip down the dashboard. Apart from the weight savings, it improves visibility that would have been restricted had the dash remained stock. But once you’ve done away with the stock dashboard, notice how the wipers now become the lowest point on the windsheild.
Since most racing series rules require race cars to have at least one wiper, those who would like to maximize visibility choose the lesser evil and would rather race with just one wiper parked at the 12 o’clock position…
Or parked on one side – the passenger side, so it still doesn’t obstruct the driver’s line of vision. Still a lesser evil.
The conventional two-wiper system is designed to clear more of the windshield on the driver’s side. This is perfectly fine for the usual daily-driver. But when you’re driving a race car at with a conventional wiper system, it might not be the most effective system around. One thing that can be bothersome is that with a conventional dual wiper system is that the passenger side wiper dumps water into the driver’s line of sight, before the driver side wiper clears it off. In a race where every split-second counts, a single or mono wiper might just be what you need, as it clears off your line of sight in one sweep, without leaving residual streaks, or dumping water in front of your face.
Besides, when done correctly on a race car, it can clear off almost the entire windshield, just as much as a conventional wiper. On a race car, you don’t have to worry about the top left and right corners not being cleared by the wiper. Anyway, the entire upper part of the windsheild is usually covered in sponsor branding. So the wiper doesn’t really have to cover that area.
3. Aerodynamic Drag
Ok, this is the tricky part. I’m no aerodynamicist, so I’ll leave the talking to the experts. Here’s what the folks over at the Audi Motorsports divions had to say (Source: Quattroworld):
The new Le Mans sports car’s single-arm windscreen wiper was also developed in the Audi Wind Tunnel Center. ‘This subject is not as trivial as it would perhaps appear,’ says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier. ‘We do indeed have experience from the DTM. However, the windscreen wiper is hardly ever used here. Also, a DTM car reaches 250 km/h and not 330. The demands on the windscreen wiper are considerably higher at Le Mans.’
– Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Engineering at Audi Sport.
Audi vs. Toyota in the 2012 Le Mans.
But what I do know is that when going at high speeds in the rain with strong gusts of wind, some drivers experience the so called “wind lift” on their vehicles. This happens when the airflow goes under the wiper at speed or in strong gusts of wind and lifts it, inducing chattering or skipping, thus reducing it’s effectiveness in clearing the water from your windshield. Here are examples of Ford Focus C-Max, and Mazda Miata owners sharing their experiences.
To solve this, vehicle owners with conventional wiper systems switch to the more modern aerodynamic wiper blades with integrated spoilers, designed to “hug” the windshield better, and utilize incoming air to keep pushing the wiper down to the windshield. Not only are they effective, they look cool too! Use it along with Rain-X and you’ve got yourself a winning combination!
My personal favorite are the Bosch Evolution wiper blades. If that isn’t enough for you then I recommend you try the Bosch ICON wiper blades. These are the same wiper blades used on the SRV Dominator vehicle in the TV Series – Storm Chasers.
Check product reviews of Bosch Wiper Blades and Rain-X here:
Single / Mono Wipers aren’t for everybody. Even in racing, not everybody uses them. It’s all a matter of preference, and performance.