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Windshield Wiper Orientation: England vs USA

Here’s something a person might be curious about.

Look at the left hand drive car (USA style) in the photo below. Note how the windshield wipers are oriented; i.e. they move from their rest position up and to the left from the driver’s perspective when you first turn them on. The pivot points are biased towards the driver’s side of the car. On British style right hand drive cars, do the wipers still use this orientation? Or do they reverse the location of the pivot points, and the wipers move up and to the right when you first turn them on?

a person - as in one.

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Never needed to use them in England but guess it makes sense.

They’re all over the place. I had a 65 Lincoln and the wipers were oriented the reverse of what you see above, they swept up and to the right. I had a 65 Olds and they pivoted from the ends of the windshield, meaning the left wiper swept up to the left and the right wiper swept up to the right.

In modern times Subarus and Mercedes have used one single wiper that swept the whole windshield, Toyota has used 3 wipers on the windshield, and many minivans have wipers that run opposed to each other, like the 65 Olds had.

There is no specific location for the pivots based on right or left hand drive. The regulations define how much of the glass must be wiped in the vicinity of the driver and total wipe pattern for the EU, Japan and the US.

A good designer (i.e. a Brit or a Japanese) would develop a wipe pattern that meets both driving positions for cars destined for both markets. Not disparaging designers from other areas but an American engineer may ignore it considering the car will never have a RHD model. The new Mustang has a RHD model for the first time in many generations but the wipe pivot isn’t changed so they must have considered it.

Many cars have a larger wiper on the driver’s side, eg, Subaru. So it is a valid question as to how that model is configured for UK or Japan. However, finding a photo that shows that is difficult.

Over the years I’ve seen just about every different windshield wiper configuration imaginable, including one huge wiper and three tiny ones. I’ve seen them come from the left, the right, the top, the center, and everyplace in between.

I’d be reluctant to draw any conclusions or make any general statements about the rotating axis location of windshield wipers.

George, why don’t you go to British car sites and find out?

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I have thought about windshield wiper orientation on school buses. On some buses the wipers come up from the cowl and on other buses the wipers come down from the top of the windshield. I am talking about modern school buses. The first school bus I rode had a Wayne body on a 1939 GMC chassis. The windshield could be opened from the bottom, so the windshield​ wipers had to come down from the top of the windshield. Some cars of the 1930s also had windshields that could be opened, necessitating wipers that came down from the top of the windshield. However, no modern vehicle has a windshield that opens for ventilation, so I too am confused about wiper orientation.

Good comments. Quite a bit of interest in this subtle car- design topic. A lot of curious folks like me participate here I see :wink: Wikipedia suggests while it is not universal, there is indeed some involvement of the design of w-wiper configuration, rhd vs lhd. For example, in the link below, the caption on figure 10 says

Fig. 10: Like Fig. 1 but mirror-reversed, mainly seen on RHD cars.

Are you sure?:



Very interesting @insightful ! The WW configuration on this RHD car seems definitely oriented the other way 'round. Is the configuration the same as the photo at the top of this thread for the LHD Mustang then?


It appears the design priority is to get the middle portion of the window on the driver’s side cleaned first off, then the edge of the window on the driver’s side after. Sort of makes sense, if the windshield gets splashed, more important to be able to see out the middle part of the window asap. The side part of the windshield can wait a little.

Well I’ll be dipped! No I am not sure at all.

Pics of the US version clearly show the pivot on the opposite side as this RHD version.

A left side mounted wiper assembly would be in conflict with the HVAC inlet in the cowl on a RHD vehicle. I would expect most LHD/RHD vehicles use different wiper assemblies.

I think @GeorgeSanJose nailed it. Most modern cars have wipers that where the left and right wipers operated in parallel to each other so that the center of the windshield is cleared first. Another system that is used is where the left hand and right hand wipers overlap which also clears the center of the windshield.
I remember cars and trucks from years ago where the passenger side wiper was an option. I know a passenger side wiper was an option on the 1948 Ford F-1 pickup.