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The Net Takeaway: Wiper Blades

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Wiper Blades · 01/04/2006 04:44 PM, Personal

I remember helping my dad change the wipers on our car. Growing up in New Orleans, you have a lot of rain. The wipers needed to be changed every 6 months or so… but it wasn’t all that hard. You simply removed the wiper component, and slide out the rubber strip. Then, at the gas station, you could buy a new rubber strip and slide it in… or the full service attendant could do it for you. 15 minutes total.

Well, we are now a wasteful society. When I went to change my inserts this time, I learned that DIY isn’t always an option.

First off, few companies even sell the rubber strips (my first clue). When I finally found them at an AutoZone, they were all “universal” fit (my second clue). I removed my wiper holders from the ML320, and it was only when I sat down to whip out the old inserts that I realized that these car companies just don’t want to let you save the money or the materials.

That’s right, you can’t just remove the rubber. Its wedged in there good and tight. And, when I finally got it out with needle-nose pliers and a screwdriver… you guessed it, the universal fit rubber inserts… didn’t fit, universally or otherwise.

So, off I went and bought complete wiper pieces. 2 for the front, 1 for the rear… $62 with tax.

“What do I do with these old ones?” I asked the parts guy.
“There’s a trash can right there.” he replied.
“Aren’t they worth anything? Trade in? The only thing wrong with them is the rubber, can’t that be replaced? After all, these new ones here were worth $60!”
“Nope, you just throw them out and buy new ones.”

Thanks, Mercedes. I guess to you, if we are rich enough to overpay for our car, we are rich enough to overpay for all the maintenance and upkeep as well. That’s the way to keep a customer loyal.

Its easy to focus on Sony and other record label’s attempts to control use of media, but don’t ignore how every company wants to control obsolescence and replacement capability (funny, Sony comes to mind again, spelled “memory stick”) to force the consumer… to consume.

Time spent trying to replace insert: 35 minutes
Drive time to buy new wipers: 45 minutes each way
Cost to buy wipers: $62
Pain from trying to do the right thing and being forced to just spend more and throw out more? Priceless.

Update: a friend let me know that if I buy 3rd party wiper assemblies from companies such as Bosch, many of these have easy to replace wiper inserts. Its only the “OEM” parts which make it difficult.

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