Vacuum vs. electric wiper energy use

Back in 1984 I bought a very worn1970 or 71 gremlin, I remember it had an un-synchronized low gear and it had vacuum wipers. It also had my beloved 4 wheel drums. I think it had a 3.? liter six. It was rough, but the vacuum wipers worked ok. I remember they were fluid in their operation., I put a check valve and an extra vacuum canister under the hood and that helped the wipers under load, it wasn’t a big deal to let off of the throttle for a few seconds to get wiping again. Most of the time the old girl was foot to the floor… It was great for ripping down the gravel and dirt backroads of southern indiana.

The drums and vacuum wipers did just fine. My complaint is the %$%&%^ rear glass was fixed, it didn’t open, it wasnt broken, it came that way from the factory, at some point I removed the rear and side glass and painted it like the general lee, remember this was around 85 and I was 18.

That car seen more offroading in a week than a modern SUV will see in a lifetime. The three speed was column mounted and was very vague and clunky, a pain in the but to shift, and it was fairly slow to accelerate. I sold it to friend and he drove it for a while before it got junked.

Well Chunkyazian,Mack trucks had pnuematic wipers for a long time ,for some reason,they were pretty troublesome somewhere along the way they went from a pull"switch" to a rotary one(many Macks had the knobs pulled off till the drivers got used to them) I think they are all electric now-much better-Kevin

It’s not about energy use, it’s about having 8 different speeds and 8 different delay settings and a hidden “park” position…There is no place in a modern car for vacuum operated windshield wipers…

My father-in-law bought a 1965Mercury Monterey that had electric wipers that had only one speed. The wipers were either on or off. Apparently, this was true of the bottom of the line Ford products of this era. I think it was a toss up as to whether these single speed wipers were any better than vacuum wipers where there was a vacuum booster section on the fuel pump. However, the 2 speed electric wipers on the 1940 Chrysler were a real improvement over vacuum wipers. Even the lowly 1957 and 1958 Studebaker Scotsman models offered electric wipers as an option over the standard vacuum wipers, but a radio on these Scotsman Studebakers was not an option–you had to go aftermarket.

The amount of energy used by electric wipers is not insignificant, but is pretty small compared to the rest of the electrical loads on a modern vehicle, and modern charging systems easily handle it.

I’d imagine another issue with using engine vacuum to run this on a modern vehicle is that you’d have to design the system so it doesn’t confuse the heck out of the electronic engine management system when suddenly you have an intermittent massive vacuum leak.

As a side note, my dad had a 1968 Olds Toronado that had electric wipers but vacuum-operated power locks. I remember pushing the button to lock the doors—hisssss click!

Another example of changes in how automotive accessories are powered would be power windows.

I’m not sure if everyone is aware of it, but some of the earliest power windows were powered from a central hydraulic pump under the hood. This system–which was necessitated by the weak 6-volt electrical systems of the day–worked decently when the cars were new, but after a few years, leaks from the hydraulic cylinders in the doors frequently led to oil stains on the interior door panels.

Just imagine having permanent oil stains on the gray broadcloth that covered the interior door panels of your luxury car!

@VDCdriver–I remember these hydraulic systems for power windows. My aunt came to visit us from out of town driving her 1948 Buick convertible. That Buick had hydraulic power windows. While she was with us, the cylinder for the left hand window started leaking. She could roll the window up, but it would gradually lower itself. I was in high school and took her Buick to the dealer for repair. The car was 10 years old at the time and the dealer had to call all over to get the parts. I did like driving that Buick, however, When I picked it up at the dealer, I took it out on the highway for some much needed exercise. I think the top was also hydraulically operated.
This same aunt and uncle also owned a 1940 Ford convertible. The top was operated by vacuum motors. I also drove that car when we visited them.

" I think the top was also hydraulically operated."

I believe that you are correct, Triedaq. My recollection is that the top & the windows were powered by the same pump.

In addition to GM, I think that Lincoln might have used hydraulics for their early power windows, but I’m not sure about that point.

Wasn’t there certain cars with a vacuum operated convertible tops? Of course there’s the good old vacuum headlamp doors, and I think there were vacuum power windows!

Lets hear it for our versatile friend vacuum! Is there anything it can’t do??!!

On a side note, I think ford tinkered with the idea of using hydraulic accumulators to capture kinetic energy when slowing down a car, store that energy and use it to help the car get moving again, Similar to what hybrids do, but with hydraulics. This was a while ago and I don’t think it went anywhere. Kinda like fords plastic engine block.

Ah, vacuum powered pop-up headlights. Dad’s 1968 Toronado had those too… One was a little weaker than the other and the right lamp would always pop up first as I recall…

The concealed headlights on my '71 Charger were closed by an electric motor, and they opened when a solenoid opened and allowed a spring-loaded mechanism to pop the headlight doors open.

However, I really didn’t like the gimmicky nature of those concealed headlights, so the first thing that I did after getting the car home was to turn on the headlights and then detach the connector running to that electric motor, thus keeping the headlight doors open constantly. It was always easy to spot my Charger, as it was the only one in the area with the headlights not concealed.

Why have we limited the option to vacuum or electric? What about hydraulic? Lincoln did that for many years, all through the 60’s I believe. The wipers were operated hydraulically off of the power steering pump. They sure were smooth and quiet.

I still choose electric, because if the engine stalls on a rainy night, vacuum or hydraulic wipers can leave you blind. Electric wipers will work as long as the battery does.

Why have we limited the option to vacuum or electric? What about hydraulic?

Why not manual wipers? The kind you had to move a lever inside the cabin to clear your windows

What is simpler: A system of pressurized hoses and lines with fittings plumbed across the engine compartment and prone to leaks, or a few thin wires running to an electric motor that’s probably no larger than a hydraulic one?

How about rain-powered wipers? You just need a large waterwheel on your roof and a decent amount of rain before they start to kick in…

I’m working on perfecting a vehicle that is entirely powered by road rage. Unfortunately it develops the most horsepower while going 0-30 in heavy traffic and not on uncongested open roads.

I don’t know if it will ever be perfected, but coatings for windshields could make wiper use minimal in the future. The rain x solution in the the washer fluid does a good job now in most conditions. I would say, the fewer options necessary, the less relevant the debate about what powers them becomes. I would also like to to @oblivion’s suggestions, that back seat drivers be given a set of pedals to power up accessories when ever they open their mouths.

@oblivion I think bad news makes a better fuel than road rage, as it travels faster and is much more readily available.

If you could run a car on disappointment, everyone could drive for free. Of course people would start getting worse mileage as they became satisfied with their disappointment-powered cars, which would kick their disappointment back up again. Eventually it would level off, with disappointment and happiness balancing out and no one truly happy. Just like life.

I can’t believe this post is still going, it is a NON issue

@EllyElllis Yes, in the Middle Ages monks argued how many angels could dance on the head of a pin! This thread is about as relevant.

@ellyellis @docnick

I don’t think this thread was irrelevant, we went thru some history and talked about some of our experiences with vacuum wipers.

Its real simple folks, if it doesn’t interest you, don’t read it. Just because you don’t find something interesting doesn’t mean others wont.

The thread was dead for a day and ol elly had to pipe in and get it started again, then Doc speaks up further keeping it going. So here I am Speaking my mind and I will probably be scolded for it.

Afterall, we all listen to a show which has the puzzler… Most of those are not very relevant to the show, or anything else these days, but they are interesting… just like vacuum wipers.

But here it goes…

In fact do you know that there was a car with wipers powered by a cable connected to the transmission? They only worked when the car was moving, and their speed varied depending on the speed of the car!

Class, can we explain one advantage to vacuum powered wipers on… lets say a stock 1958 Buick?
There was a reason we used vacuum wipers back then? Why might this be?