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2008 H4SO 4AT with 258Mm in Frontenac, Ontario
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Like most Canadian market Gen 3 Outbacks, our car has a heating element in the windscreen for warming the wipers. On some frosty occasions I’ve activated the wiper heater to see what happens, and every time it seems like nothing really happens, although the indicator light goes on, and the button "click" is surprisingly satisfying.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into situations that would benefit from heated wipers so I am thinking about deleting them when the windscreen is replaced this summer.

Does anyone have stories of the wiper heaters being genuinely useful? 🐦
 

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2005 Outback VDC limited 3.0r
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1,340 Posts
I use them everytime I go snowboarding. I don't like leaving the wiper arms up, as I've seen vehicles do this, and something smacks them down and cracks the windshield. Very rare. But I love them for snow weather. Also helps keep the rubber from hardening up or icing up when they get little use during whiteout conditions. Just makes overall snow/ice clearing easier in my situation.
 

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2008 Subaru Outback XT (MT) & 2016 Subaru Outback Ltd
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322 Posts
Also helps keep the rubber from hardening up or icing up when they get little use during whiteout conditions. Just makes overall snow/ice clearing easier in my situation.
I figured that it was the main reason for a heating element in the windshield. What I don't understand is why there are separate buttons for heated windshield/mirrors, and rear window. On my 2016 all 3 "sit" on one button. Just like a radio being connected to climate controls :) bad engineering if you ask me :)
 

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I like "heated wipers." However, to me, that is technically not heated WIPERS, but a heated windshield to prevent sticking wipers when they are stopped. What I have found it that wiper blades with exposed steel spring stiffeners will become ice collectors in snow while actually wiping, especially when the outside temperature is near the freeze point. This happens when the wiper is actively wiping and the ice forms on the spring and builds up to prevent the blade from flexing causing skips and chattering. I will always try to avoid blades with an exposed steel stiffener spring for blades with covered springs or with a plastic base and no springs.

On my past cars, the mirrors and rear defrost were always connected. On my wife's Mercedes, all were automatic based upon outside temps and precipation, although there was a button for rear defrost and mirrors.
 

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2006 Outback XT 5 speed
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61 Posts
When the car sits outside in winter and with the right conditions occur, the wipers get stuck to the windshield due to ice. Using the wiper heater melts the ice so that I don't have to try ripping the blades off the glass or overworking the wiper motor. Then after a few minutes, the wipers can be used with the washer to remove road salt from the windshield. I use it a few times each winter in Michigan.
 

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2005 3L LL Bean Outback
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368 Posts
Does anyone have stories of the wiper heaters being genuinely useful?
If your engine is cold, the wiper heaters will start heating up and defrosting the ice on the windshield way before the climate control gets a chance to defrost the windshield. Granted, the wiper heaters only defrost the lower part of the windshield. Perhaps not genuinely useful, but it speeds up the process and preempts having to keep the wipers up. On paper, it sounds like an unnecessary luxury, which is what I thought when I had my gen2 without wiper heaters. My gen3 came with wiper heaters and I can't really go back. If I'm window shopping new vehicles, I always look for wiper heaters or else a winter package that includes wiper heaters.

I’ve activated the wiper heater to see what happens, and every time it seems like nothing really happens
If you see the ribbon/grill under the wipers then you have the heating element. It's electrically connected under the passenger side A-pillar cover. Could be that a window installer forgot to hook it up. I've had my (gen3) windshield replaced twice, and each time there's an option of going for a windshield without the heating element, and each time I go for the windshield with the heating element, which tends to be ~ 20 USD more expensive than without.
 

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05 GT wagon, 09 Spec B, 18 3.6R Outback
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Thankful for them the other day when we had freezing rain.

Old story, I was not happy when I bought my 2000 Legacy GT wagon, which didn't come with heater windshield. Yet, in the brochure for the GT wagon, the car was shown in a Winter setting. I remember calling Subaru and telling it didn't make sense to show the car in a Winter setting and not have that as standard equipment.
 

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2005 3L LL Bean Outback
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368 Posts
Seems the wiper heaters (deicers) have 2 mode settings. Automatically switch off completely 15 minutes after activation, and continuously alternate between 15 minutes activation and 2 minutes deactivation. Mine switch off completely after 15 minutes and I would prefer the other mode setting. Just need Subaru Select Monitor to change the setting.

Font Parallel Pattern Number Document
 

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2020 Outback Premier 2.5i
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What I don't understand is why there are separate buttons for heated windshield/mirrors, and rear window
Are you sure? I was under the impression that the right side button was for combined rear window defroster and outside mirrors; left button for windshield only. Perhaps you have the 7" infotainment option, not the 11.6. Anyway, I wondered about the pairing as well. I guess they figured if you couldn't see out the back window, you probably couldn't see behind you in the outside mirrors.
 

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2008 Subaru Outback XT (MT) & 2016 Subaru Outback Ltd
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Are you sure? I was under the impression that the right side button was for combined rear window defroster and outside mirrors; left button for windshield only. Perhaps you have the 7" infotainment option, not the 11.6. Anyway, I wondered about the pairing as well. I guess they figured if you couldn't see out the back window, you probably couldn't see behind you in the outside mirrors.
You are absolutely right! Thanks for pointing out my mistake. I never looked it up in the manual I just figured that since heated mirrors and windshield were part of the winter package they probably were on one button.
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R
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117 Posts
Seems the wiper heaters (deicers) have 2 mode settings. Automatically switch off completely 15 minutes after activation, and continuously alternate between 15 minutes activation and 2 minutes deactivation. Mine switch off completely after 15 minutes and I would prefer the other mode setting. Just need Subaru Select Monitor to change the setting.
I love playing with these settings. There is a way to change them without an SSM3 but it requires some electronics skills. If you haven't played around with microcontrollers it's probably easier just going to the dealer.
 

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18 horizontally opposed cylinders of fury
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I find them useful & can definitely see them doing their job, particularly if there's a glaze of ice on the windshield & I run them a few minutes before driving off.

On Gen2 the windshield, outside mirrors & rear window each had their own control button so you could decide what & when to operate. For Gen3 the mirrors were tied together with the rear window, but the wiper park area still had a discrete control button. On Gen5 there is just one button & all 3 heating systems run together.

If you get it switched to the continuous operating mode (which Subaru kindly added to the customization screens for Gen5) the manuals describe that exterior temperature above 41 F, sustained vehicle speed below 10 mph, or low overall voltage will prevent the wiper deicer from operating continuously.

If it doesn't seem to be working, you can do some easy diagnosis. Attached is the Gen3 wiring diagram. If the switch's "on" light illuminates when you press it, that indicates the relay is working when the BIU commands it & that the fuse is good. To check continuity through the heating elements with the car off, pull the connector from the back of the switch & measure resistance between connector position 8 & car ground. The FSM doesn't indicate the correct resistance, but a small non-zero value would be expected. Infinite means a wiring or connection fault or conceivably a break in the conductive path on the glass; zero means a short that would blow the fuse.
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R
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I'm curious and I'd like to learn more about this.
There's a thread about reverse engineering the immobilizer, it details how to dump the rom on the BIU. all of these preferences are encoded in that rom. I mapped out a few of them but if people are interested i could map out the rest, it'll take a bit of time though
 

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2007 Outback 3.0 LLBean, WGO
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548 Posts
and the button "click" is surprisingly satisfying.
The little things do matter, don't they ;)

I also find this feature more useful when driving in sleet/freezing rain than when clearing off my car after a storm. I'll do a pretty complete job clearing snow/ice when it's parked.
But I've found while driving having this heater on reduces the squeak and skip of the wiper blades as they pick up winter mixture on the go.
 

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2009 OBXT
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That heated wiper element caused the windshield to crack on me the 2nd or 3rd time I used it!

It was in mid 20's F and I was warming up the car for 5-10min with the defrost and wiper heater on. Came back outside and scraped the windshield, got in the car and watched what looked like a rain drop go upwards from the bottom center edge of the windshield, take a 90deg left and all the way across to drivers side edge. Turning off the defrost of hot air slowed it down but it eventually creeped all the way over. So weird watching it slowly crack.

There were no visible cracks or chips in the area where the crack started, so I can only assume it was from the plastic scraper or some defect in the glass combined with an abrupt temperature gradient across the glass in that area. I'm the 2nd owner, but it looks like original oem glass.

So when I get a new windshield, I'm disconnecting that heated wiper element circuit. It was probably a fluke, but not worth the risk to me.
 

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2008 H4SO 4AT with 258Mm in Frontenac, Ontario
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107 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So when I get a new windshield, I'm disconnecting that heated wiper element circuit. It was probably a fluke, but not worth the risk to me.
@XT_user, instead of paying for something you won’t use, you could get an OEM windshield without the heater element. The heater-less glass is about $100 less in our part of the woods. 🐦
 

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2009 OBXT
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Thanks, I'll look into that when the time comes. Luckily, the crack only bothers me when sunlight reflects off it.
 
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