FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — A new specialized service tool is designed to remove wiper blade arms quickly, enabling technicians to get into tight spaces to replace windshield wiper motors, windshields or other devices such as batteries.
Some potential customers call the 4680 Wiper Puller a useful niche device. Others suggest it responds to a need that they think hasn't been shown.
The tool is sold by OTC, a division of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions. It has a suggested retail price of $99.95, but Bosch says local distributors will set prices in their markets. The 4680 went on sale in February.
Wiper pullers are not new. But OTC says its device is a high-force puller with moveable, interchangeable arms of different widths. This flexibility will allow techs to work faster and more efficiently, the supplier says.
Dirk Skogerboe, a Bosch Automotive product manager, calls his company's wiper puller "a near-universal application, especially in tighter spaces that are becoming more common" or on vehicles that have deeply recessed wiper blade arms. Use of the device, which comes with a lifetime warranty, minimizes tech errors that "scratch the glass or paint," he says.
A socket wrench can twist the head of the 4680's forcing screw, permitting the removal of a bolt cover over the wiper blade arm, then the bolt itself. The puller arms extend around either side of the base of the wiper arm that fits over the spline shaft. They force the wiper arm upward and away from its seated position on the shaft, so that it also can be removed.
Mr. Skogerboe notes that competing wiper pullers use a swing jaw-type clamp or rounded cutout that fits around the base of the grooved shaft on which the wiper arm pivots; twisting a knob on the puller applies pressure to pull the arm off the shaft. But he says the 4680 can reach into deeper areas that older pullers cannot.
Matco Tools, Snap-on Tools, Motoring Shoppe and other vendors offer products similar to the 4680 Wiper Puller. Prices in the segment range from $13.65 to $479.95 as part of a broader toolkit.
Some service technicians say a blade screwdriver works fine as a wiper arm puller, although Mr. Skogerboe warns that risks paint and glass damage. Other techs question the need for the 4680, especially at what they call its high price.
The new device "may work on some cars, but on our Mazda vehicles, you don't need it," says Ernesto Olano, a technician at Mazda of Palm Beach in North Palm Beach, Fla. "You remove a bolt, push down on the arm and it pops out."
Olano says the only time he needed to use a dedicated wiper puller was on a heavily rusted car. "I am sure there are some uses for it," he says of the new tool, "but why would you try to reinvent the wheel?"
Robert Rubsky, the shop foreman at Schumacher Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Volkswagen in Lake Park, Fla., says he knows of no technicians "who would buy that tool for $100."
"If it was in the $30 range, it works good," Mr. Rubsky says. He adds with a laugh: "If you need [a wiper puller] and don't have it, you go to the technician with the double-wide Snap-on toolbox who does, and borrow his."