Why isn't there such a thing as windshield defrosters?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Here's a question that perhaps you can answer. I've spoken with several car salesmen who have yet to come up with an answer for me on this issue. I don't think it's that difficult a question, so I thought I'd ask you. For many years now, many cars have been equipped with rear window defrosters. Every car that I've had that was equipped with one worked well, and I've never had any complaints about their effectiveness, especially on cold mornings. Why don't car manufacturers install FRONT window defrosters in the same manner they install rear window defrosters? An explanation would be greatly appreciated.

RAY: Well, the main reason they haven't done it in the past is that you'd have wires running across the windshield, like you do on the rear window. It would make you feel kind of like you were in Alcatraz. And while that would make my brother feel right at home, it would be very distracting to the rest of us.

TOM: Actually, Robert, that used to be the problem. But Ford solved it a few years ago with an invisible, conductive film inside the windshield. And now Ford offers this so-called "insta-clear" windshield on a number of models.

RAY: Unfortunately, we've tried it, and we didn't think it was all that "instant." It might be more accurate to call it "eventual-clear." It's not that it takes any longer than conventional rear window defrosters. It's just that it SEEMS like forever when you have to sit and wait for it.

TOM: Right. When your rear window is frosted, you turn on the rear window defroster and drive. After ten minutes or so, you look in the rear view mirror and are pleasantly surprised to notice that the rear window is clear. But if you had to sit for ten minutes, and couldn't drive until it cleared up, it would seem like forever. And that was our only complaint about the "insta-clear" windshield.

RAY: So an electric windshield defroster is a good idea, Robert. And perhaps it will be standard equipment on cars of the future. But at least for the time being, we still find that the good, old fashioned blow torch works best.
TOM: Today we have some more winners from our Nouns of Assembly contest. We asked our readers to come up with collective nouns for all things automotive. We've mentioned a few already, like "a Harrison of Fords," and "a ring of Saturns." Here are some more we like.

RAY: Janet Klann from Glendale, Arizona came up with two good ones: "An attitude of Cavaliers," and "a sprawl of Suburbans."

TOM: This one from Stanley Jay, a self described "used mandolin salesman from Staten Island, New York: "A barber of Sevilles."

RAY: Father Frederick Heuser of St. James Catholic Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin was apparently working on our collective noun endeavor between masses. He came up with "a stuff of Legends," and "a rattling of LeSabres." That's good, Father!

TOM: Each of our winners will get a copy of our mediocre book, CAR TALK. But don't worry, we'll send it in a plain brown wrapper, so your friends and neighbors won't know you read our column.

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