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You may have seen those commercials for the rain repellant products like Rain-X or perhaps the new windshield wipers which are coated with a similar type of substance and thought to yourself ‘Well, that seems like a gimmick’. You’re probably in good company if so. However, a few of us at the local auto shop are here to tell you that, somewhat surprisingly, these products actually can work very well. In fact, they can really improve visibility (and thus safety) in some of the worst thunderstorm conditions.

Blue Sky
(photo by msgsti217 via Flickr)

Are you surprised? Well, it turns out that not every product these days is a ridiculous marketing scam or gimmick. Only about 81% are. Just kidding, in all seriousness it’s closer to 60%. But, the use of these rain repellent chemicals is undeniable for one simple reason. They work. They actually work quite well by themselves (in many cases you don’t even need to use windshield wipers) and paired with a good pair of wipers they can make a ‘no visibility’ situation just good enough to allow you to actually drive.

We’re sure that a lot of you have been in such a torrential downpour that everyone on the highway was forced to pull over and wait it out. With rain repellents you can typically maintain enough visibility to keep going (however slowly and tentatively). Take it from an auto technician who isn’t easily impressed with products like this. And the benefit is that you might be able to avoid one more accident that could lead to an expensive repair at your local auto shop.

So, how do these repellant chemicals work? Well, they simply provide a very slick surface that doesn’t allow rain or other liquids to stick to it. It’s like a super-effective wax, but more long-lasting. Most of the commercial products available will last about 3 months or so. And they really can make a difference.

Another piece of advice from your friendly auto technicians at the local auto shop? Shop around and compare prices and brands. That Rain-X stuff might be the most recognizable brand, but a few looks around the blogosphere show that it is not the clear winner in terms of cost or durability so check the reviews before you pick one product or another.

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