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Not Impressed By the Automatic Wipers - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited November 2015 in Honda
imageNot Impressed By the Automatic Wipers - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test

There's a lot to love about our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot, but the rain sensing wipers may not make that list.

Read the full story here


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    s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    i've never been in a car that had an auto-sensing wiper sensitivity control that seemed to do much of anything. and at least in the e90 bimmer forums i know many people tend to agree.

    i still like auto sensing wipers but i tend to agree the technology is far from perfect.
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    isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Maybe I'm missing something but the question begs...WHY?

    I am perfectly capable of determining when raindrops are falling on my windshield! I am also capable of twisting the stalk that turns on the wipers!

    Same applies to the two cars that have auto headlights. We have a lot of dark, rainy dreary days around here and the auto lights don't come on until it is almost DARK!

    So again....WHY? I must be missing something!
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Maybe you're missing a better implementation of those features? Our friend's Cruze auto lights feature works well.

    Forgot whose car I was driving a year or so ago and the rain sensing wipers came on. Kept up fine, but the really nice thing was how they were tuned into the "intermittent" mode. No moving the stalk dial up or down to hit the sweet spot.
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    wheelmccoywheelmccoy Member Posts: 97
    Not a fan of automatic wipers either. And when it comes time to go through a car wash, will I remember to disable it?
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    janet_kjanet_k Member Posts: 18
    I've used Mercedes' automatic wipers for the last 15 years across three vehicles and they've all worked exactly as designed, including staying off when the rain stopped or while driving through a tunnel -in the rain. The lights go on on rainy drives too, regardless of light, in concert with the wipers.
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    isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    stever said:

    Maybe you're missing a better implementation of those features? Our friend's Cruze auto lights feature works well.

    Forgot whose car I was driving a year or so ago and the rain sensing wipers came on. Kept up fine, but the really nice thing was how they were tuned into the "intermittent" mode. No moving the stalk dial up or down to hit the sweet spot.

    No, our auto lights on two of our cars work just fine but they don't turn on until it's a whole lot darker than we would like them to.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Move south. ;)
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    isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Been there. No thanks!
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    daryleasondaryleason Member Posts: 501
    I've never had a car that used rain-sensing wipers. But in my mind, I never figured how they'd work right. Your water build up on a windshield is based on the speed you're traveling and the amount of rain coming down. I've always wondered if you're going fast enough to blow the moisture "up" the windshield, if they'd come on. It would probably drive me nuts. That's like the little wipers on the headlights that Mercedes likes to slap on their cars (or used to, anyways) as a "luxury" feature. I never really thought they were useful. Unless you're going mudding in your Luxury Sedan, I just don't see them as something that would help you.
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    allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    edited November 2015
    This is one feature that will be very difficult to program to everyone's tastes. I've noticed a lot of variance of wiper speed in the rain. Some will have their's on intermittent while the car right behind them will be on full blast high speed.

    And the Detroit crew have been doing lights with wipers automatically for at least 20 years. I know my friend's old 1997 Grand Cherokee did this and wouldn't dim the instrument panel displays unless it was dark enough. However the usual Chrysler gremlins showed up when it got old (10 years and well over 150,000 miles). They would automatically turn off while you were driving at night. Had to go to manual mode from then on.
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    kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 241,171
    Rain sensing wipers are sensitivity adjustable, just like normal intermittent wipers. If you've ever experienced good ones, you'd love them.

    Unless you don't like variable intermittent wipers, at all.

    It's not exactly new technology. We had them on our 2003 model car.

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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    I like the idea of setting stuff and forgetting it.

    (Isell, try a little bit to the east next time, lol. Perhaps AZ. )
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    kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    You get a crack in the windshield and its a $1,200 replacement cost. No thanks, our 13 Pilot's windshield (OEM quality) was about $270 at a local shop and they came out to our place.
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    vvkvvk Member Posts: 196
    Wait, defective wipers on a brand new 2015 Honda?
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    banhughbanhugh Member Posts: 315
    janet_k said:

    I've used Mercedes' automatic wipers for the last 15 years across three vehicles and they've all worked exactly as designed, including staying off when the rain stopped or while driving through a tunnel -in the rain. The lights go on on rainy drives too, regardless of light, in concert with the wipers.

    My 2013 ML350 automatic wipes are OK but far from perfect. I would prefer a manual system with a large range of variable, intermittent speed settings to adjust the wipers fast enough to see through but slow enough to avoid squeaking! My 2008 Honda Accord had 8 intermittent settings and I felt it was a better system, good enough to find that sweet spot.
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    PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    Yet another example of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". Stop trying to help me. Our phone bills are more than double what they used to be and the number of phones we have gone through in the house is silly ever since they "saved" me from Ma Bell.
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    s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    i like auto headlights not so much for them turning on when i need them but turning off when i am getting out of the car. my mustang doesn't have auto headlights and i find it a little annoying.

    i know, first world problem. but here is another thing, it is one of those additional features that you never hear about "breaking". you never see anyone on the forums say, "oh great, my auto headlights aren't working again."

    our mazda and bmw both seem to be set to error on the side of caution. they are far more likely to turn on when not needed (slightly overcast day) than not be on when needed and i have to do it manually.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited November 2015
    s197gt said:

    i like auto headlights not so much for them turning on when i need them but turning off when i am getting out of the car.

    Remember Tucker? I don't either but headlights are about to "officially" change again.



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    PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    Maybe they could include a clause... DRL's are NOT headlights for night use :(
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    isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    So, the other night I got into our Avalon. The headlights were set on automatic. It was dusk and I would have turned my headlights on but I wanted to see just how dark it would get before they finally turned themselves on.

    Ten minutes passed and it was getting pretty dark. No lights. After another five minutes I couldn't take it any longer and as I reached to manually turn on the headlights, they finally came on. I'm telling you, it was DARK!

    In my opinion, just a useless option. They do turn themselves off however even when set to manual. THAT is a good thing!
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    agentorangeagentorange Member Posts: 893
    Almost worse than auto headlights are cars with permanently lit instruments. They fool many into thinking their lights are on when they're not. Young and old alike get fooled in my experience.
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    PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372

    Almost worse than auto headlights are cars with permanently lit instruments. They fool many into thinking their lights are on when they're not. Young and old alike get fooled in my experience.

    Oh yea, especially in places like shopping center parking lots. There IS a headlight icon that lights up, but the habit of seeing dash lights and thinking headlights are on is tough to shake.
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    cjasiscjasis Member Posts: 274
    edited November 2015
    We have had auto wipers on several Lexus, we have them on our current Audi, my current BMW and my current Porsche. None of them are any good in changing weather. If it's bucketing, they work great (but then so would manual wipers). It's the in between stuff where they get confused.

    The other HUGE downside that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet is the added cost this feature ads when/if you have to replace a windshield. It can be very expensive.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited November 2015
    @kirkhilles1 mentioned it but I found some OEM glass in a quick search for older Pilots that cost about $30 more than "regular" glass (to account for the sensor mounting space at top center of the windshield). Not sure how the new windshields are made or what they incorporate to make the sensors work.

    Be worth checking into before buying a car with auto sensing wipers if you live off the pavement like I do.
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    bjohansenbjohansen Member Posts: 5
    I think rain sensing wipers are one of those things that sounds great in theory, but works horrible in practice.
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    wernerga3wernerga3 Member Posts: 7
    I thought this was a Pilot Touring? The Touring does not have rain sensor, on the Elite trim does. Are you sure you are not just knocking it for something it doesn't even have..


    http://automobiles.honda.com/images/2016/pilot/downloads/2016-pilot-specifications-highlights.pdf
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    wernerga3wernerga3 Member Posts: 7
    Nevermind- Saw it's an Elite, sorry!!
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    allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    edited November 2015
    Some auto light systems wait for it to be really dark before turning on. Love that my Acura lets you choose sensitivity (minimum, low, mid, high and maximum) to your liking. Minimum sensitivity they will come on when it is dark and maximum they will come at twilight. Also like that they aren't fooled by shadows or driving under trees but if you enter a tunnel or parking garage they will come on in about 5 seconds.
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    heather99heather99 Member Posts: 6
    allthingshonda - For sure you're aware that the 2016 Pilot has the Auto Headlight Sensitivity setting too, just like the MDX (referring to EX-L and above). Based on personal experience, even if the Pilot's is set Min (minimum), the headlights do turn on say some 10 minutes before the listed sunset time of the day. Still a bit sensitive for my taste despite the lowest setting though. Good thing the Pilot allows the driver to bypass the AUTO setting if wanted.
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    isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    I'm just happy I'm able to muster up the strength to twist my turn signal lever so that I can turn my headlights off and on when I want to!
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