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  • Writer's pictureJonnie Hendrickson

Car Manufacturers Once Said Windshield Wipers Have "No Commercial Value"

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Buy 1 Get 1 Free on windshield wipers until April 30th

That title is hard to believe. Shockingly it's true.

On November 10th, 1903, the United States Patent Office issued patent #743,801 to Miss Mary Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama. The paperwork granted her a 17-year patent for an invention that, at the outset, appeared to be just one more unremarkable idea destined to gather dust in a basement archive, languishing in a pile of discarded dreams.

This was the position of Dinning and Eckenstein, a major manufacturing and financing firm that received a sale of patent offer from Miss Anderson two years later in 1905. Their letter in response to her offer stated this view in painfully plain terms,

“We beg to acknowledge receipt of your recent favor with reference to the sale of your patent. In reply we regret to state we do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale.

And with that, Ms. Anderson's grand idea had been declared dead on arrival.

But some ideas refuse to die. Some ideas survive rejection, find their time, and live. Defying impossible odds, some ideas become so useful that they outlive even the memory of a life without them.

Over the next 50 years, Mary lived long enough to see her idea become ubiquitous in the age of motor vehicles. Her invention? A hand-cranked radially-swinging-arm window cleaning device.

After a particularly cold and unpleasant ride on a New York City streetcar, where the motorman had been forced to remove his windshield altogether to see through the slush, snow, and sleet, Miss Anderson sketched her concept, indignantly noting,

“There was no reason to let the foul weather in."

The image below is the original drawing she submitted to the patent office over a century ago. It is the birth certificate of the modern windshield wiper.

Original windshield wiper design submitted for patent by Mary Anderson in 1903

Despite the incredible evolution in transportation technology over the past 100 years, the windshield wiper has continued to be a necessary convenience and safety feature for vehicles of every make, model, and year.

The origin story of the windshield wiper illustrates that sometimes the most essential things in our day-to-day life are the very things we take most for granted. In an age where our vehicles are tech and toy-filled computers on wheels, the safety and functionality afforded us by our windshield wipers still cannot be overlooked.

Did you know 97% of your driving decisions are based on vision?

Whether you drive a six-figure Lambo or a common Camry, neither car can stay on the road in a rainstorm without working wipers. Leaving worn-out or broken wiper blades on your vehicle restricts your vision and can damage your windshield.

Are your wipers working correctly? Is it time to replace them?

Here are 3 Common Signs your Windshield Wipers need to be Replaced.

windshield wiper images portraying what skipping, streaking and squeaking issues look and sound like.


If a specific area of your windshield is always dirty, or if you see a series of vertical lines, it’s a sign that the frame of your wiper may be bent or warped, causing it to “skip” across its path. The adhesive that binds the rubber to the blade may also have dissolved, resulting in poor contact with the glass.


Some streaking is typical, but a persistent film or a layer of grime after using wiper fluid indicates the rubber has thinned or worn out and is failing to create a proper seal during operation.


That hair-raising “squeaking” or “chattering” sound when you flick your wipers on could indicate that plastic or metal from the frame is scraping directly across the glass. Squeaking is indicative of a few potential issues. Your wiper blade may be striking the windshield at something other than a 90-degree angle. The racket could also result from the rubber pads being stiffened by extensive use and exposure to the elements.

Wiper blades should be inspected every six months and replaced at least once a year, depending on the climate you drive in.

Extreme heat or cold, snow, and ice buildup are a few of the obvious climate forces to consider. But how about all the sap from that canopy of trees you park under outside your home?

Another consideration is the type of blades on your car. Most wipers are made from basic rubber, but some more hardy varieties are constructed from halogen-hardened rubber or silicon. Knowing which type of wipers are on your windshield will help you understand when to get your vehicle fitted for a new pair.

Whatever your wiper situation is, right now at Super Lube, you can BOGO - buy one, get one - free on all windshield wipers until April 30th.

Be sure to ask us about our new Frog Wiper Blades, which we cover with our exclusive No Slip, Streak, or Tear 12-Month Guarantee only at Super Lube.

Drop in anytime and let us get you back safely in the driver's seat with a clear view of the road ahead for half the price.

One last thing.

The next time you find yourself driving in a rainstorm, tip your hat to Ms. Mary Anderson and her unwillingness to let the foul weather affect her day.



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