MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Don’t Rear Car Windows Roll Down All The Way?

You & I most likely don’t have the exact same automobile. In fact, pretty much everybody’s vehicle is different, with various options & features included (or not included). But one thing that pretty much anyone who has a 4-door passenger car has are rear windows that don’t roll all the way down. Why is that? Why don’t rear windows roll all the way down like the front windows do?

Since this is something pretty much every car deals with, you might’ve just assumed it was some kind of government-mandated safety feature, similar to airbags or seat belts. And that would make sense since, with the windows not rolling all the way down, kids would be less likely to squirm out of the car. It’s a feature that certainly would also complement your car doors’ child safety locks, which prevent anyone from opening the doors from the inside.

But this particular “safety feature” is actually just a convenient side effect of your rear windows’ limited clearance & mobility. The real reason almost all rear windows won’t roll down all the way is because there’s no place for the glass to go when the window rolls down. When you look at the side of a regular 4-door car, you’ll see that the front doors are rectangular, meaning the front windows have a broad flat expanse to slide down into. The back doors, on the other hand, are usually curved or slanted forward to provide clearance for the back wheels, and that shape obstructs the back windows path. So, the glass sheets could only slide down so far before they’d end up hitting the wheel wells.

Some car designs manage to avoid the issue by just splitting the rear windows into two panes: the front being larger & rolling all the way down, while the rear is smaller & doesn’t move at all. So, if you happen to have one of those cars to shuttle your kids around in, maybe be a bit more meticulous about activating those child safety locks. But if you’re like the majority of the rest of us, and your rear windows roll down just short of all the way, at least now you know why (and you don’t feel like you got shorted by the manufacturer or dealer).

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