CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - A priority for mounted patrols is the ability to see clearly from inside a humvee and spot potential safety and security threats. Any obstruction to visibility is a hazard.

"Sight is very important, you're trying to spot IEDs [improvised explosive devices] as you're going down the side of the road. You need the glass to be clean," said Spc. Edric Ashley, a light-wheel vehicle mechanic, from Houston. "There are lines and wires to look for, if it's dirty, you can't see."

As the weather begins to change, clean windshields become a bigger issue. "Rainy season is coming; it's going to get muddy. Vehicles in a convoy are going to be kicking up mud on the windshield. Make sure the wipers are good, the blades are good, and make sure to use windshield washer fluid," said Sgt. Michael Clark, quality control and assurance shop foreman, from Arlington, Texas, assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. "Water can create more mud sometimes. Windshield wiper fluid has an ammonia agent that cuts the mud and dissolves the dirt."

A vehicle without wipers that function properly or without fluid is a safety issue. All kinds of things can go wrong and accidents can happen, said Clark. Windshield wipers and filling fluids should be dealt with daily by Soldiers using preventative maintenance checks and services, he added.

Clark also emphasized the importance of closing the front hood correctly without cutting the two hoses that lead to the nozzles that spray fluid onto the windshield. It's an alignment issue, he said. The front hood, when closing, can extend itself and rub up against these hoses. Clark said he has seen 20 percent of humvees with these hoses disengaged.

If PMCS is not done correctly and fluids are not maintained properly, mechanics may have to order parts to replace ones that have become dysfunctional due to improper use. One example is the motor for the windshield wiper.

"Using water instead of wiper fluid can rust the motor, windshield wiper fluid has rust inhibitor in it that stops the motor from rusting," said Ashley, assigned to quality control, DSTB, 1st Cavalry Div. "Prior to a mission, to clean the windshields, [Soldiers] will drain the fluid from the reservoir and they drain it too low. If there is no fluid to pull, the motor is only sucking air. This damages the motor because it is made to pull fluid and not air," he said.

Replacing a part means Soldiers have to come back to the mechanics again for service. But without a motor pumping fluid to the windshield wipers, the bigger issue is visibility while on patrol.

"It's an inconvenience and a safety issue. I remember when I was on a mission and there was a dust storm; I needed it and I didn't have it," said Ashley.

Soldiers should be proactive in keeping windshield wipers functioning and the washer fluids full. It is also a good idea for Soldiers to carry reserve wiper washer fluid with them in their humvees. Extra fluid can be obtained through their mechanics shop.