The VW Beetle Has a Weird History of Windshield Washer Systems

The Volkswagen Beetle has many interesting stories behind it. As you may already know, the Beetle started life during World War II. The rear-engine compact was purpose-built to be a cheap, reliable, and easy way to get more Germans into automobiles. Because the car was meant to be affordable, it was engineered to be a no-frills vehicle. As the Beetle moved into the 1960s, people began to crave more from the bug — specifically a windshield washer system. The first windshield washer system a manual one. Drivers of the 1961 Beetle had to push a rubberized button repeatedly. Each time the button was pushed, out came a squirt of windshield washer solution. After less than a year of using this system, engineers went back to the drawing board and came up with a system that used air from the spare tire to push the washer fluid out of the nozzles in the windshield. This was accomplished with the simple push of a button. To avoid stripping the spare tire of all its air, engineers overinflated the spare to 40 PSI. Once the tire reached 26 PSI, a specialized valve stopped the tire from losing more air until the driver pumped the tire back up to 40 PSI. Finally, in the late 1970s, Volkswagen engineers finally fitted the Beetle with the conventional electric windshield washer system. Unfortunately, the Beetle was discontinued in 2003.