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As of this morning my rear windshield wipers stopped working. I just bought the car this year and it is still covered by my three year warranty. I called the Mini dealership and they said that they can fix it on Monday. However in the past they've told me that for safety issues they would give me a rental the same day.

I personally see it as a safety issue. I'm trying to find a Massachusetts law that says real windshield wipers specifically but I don't think one exists. This question led me to this law that says "Windshield wipers must work as originally designed." Then goes on to site a 2 blade example, but I think that is mostly an artifact of the time it was written, and not to mean 'only in the case of 2 blades.'

Is a possible rear window obstruction a safety issue or am I being overly cautious?

  • I would think it is not a safety issue. While it is an obstruction due to not being able to see out the rear view mirror, you still have two side view mirrors, as well. Most people wouldn't think twice about driving the vehicle if it were full of "stuff" which obstructed the view. This is no different, in fact with just a dirty window, you'd have better rear view ability than with "stuff" inside your vehicle. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 30 '14 at 13:06
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While I cannot interpret Massachusetts law, I can say that for a rear window obstruction "it depends." Mainly it depends on your driving skill and preparedness for driving without the rear view. The rear view is most important when you are in reverse or if you are switching lanes on a multi-lane road. Your ability to use the side mirrors and turn your head to observe blind spots, along with your ability to anticipate passing vehicles will provide some, not all, information that can normally be had with the rear view mirror.

I have had to do this a few times when I had a full load in my station wagon. It is not optimal, but it is possible. For most driving circumstances, such as good weather, that rear wiper is not needed. If you recognize that there will be heavy rain or snow where you would need the wiper, plan your drive accordingly until you can have it repaired.

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It's very unlikely that any jurisdiction would require you to have a working rear wiper, for the simple reason that many vehicles (vans, lorries etc) don't have any rear windscreen at all. And as both James and Paul have said above, you could easily be driving with a load that obscured your rear window in a normal car. In both cases the driver would be reliant on the side mirrors for a rear view.

In short, I wouldn't worry about it, especially if they are going to fix it on Monday - you can always clean the glass by hand before you set off if you think it's too dirty...

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