Why Don't Rear Windows In Some Cars Not Roll Down All The Way?

I realize that on some four doors the rear windows will only roll down halfway or a little more than that, likely for child safety reasons.

However, I im in a rental car right now while mine’s getting fixed, a Dodge Caliber (I hate the thing, fwiw) and the rear windows roll down all the way except just a tiny fraction of window, like about an inch. What purpose could that possibly serve? It isn’t going to keep a child from extending their arms out the window, and it just seems stupid.

If you’re not going to stop the rear window at about halfway down or a little more than that, then why not let it just roll down all the way?

The rear wheel well is in the way?

In my car, the rear windows don’t don’t not roll down all the way.

That’s the point…some do more than others. Maybe Skammer’s on to something about the wheel well in some cars, but in many cars, the rear windows are ahead of the rear wheel, not directly over it.

I understand if you have a car with four doors and you only allow the window to roll down halfway or a little more, leaving a few inches of glass above the lip of the sill, but in this Caliber’s case, it’s like an inch or less of glass!


Because there’s not enough room in the door for the whole window to roll down. Yes, you can design a door so there’s enough room for the window and mechanism and safety features but people don’t care much about their rear windows for car makers to worry. Wheel wells take up a big chunk of space so it’s much more of a problem in the back.

With the admission that there may be a few exceptions:

Front doors, below the window, are complete rectangles.

Rear doors, below the window, are like rectangles with one corner scooped away to accomodate the wheel well. Start looking at 4-door cars and you’ll see what I mean.

In the majority of rear doors, the scoop interferes with the window’s rear corner going all the way down. How much it interferes, and how far down the window goes, varies with different designs.

The don’t go down just to piss you off. I think that was the answer the OP didn’t not want.

Yup, exactly. Look at this image of a RAV4.
The back window only goes about half way down because that’s all that will fit inside the door. Drop it lower and it would hit the wheel.

IOW too much window, not enough door.

And here I always thought it was for child safety – even a wriggly six year old will have trouble trying to crawl out the window while the car is going.

I’ve never quite understood why anyone thought that was such a worry, though.

Few if any customers will check this out during a test drive, so even if they consider it a negative feature, it doesn’t impact sales.

I’ve been told (no cite) that the half-down window is actually more dangerous than a fully down one; the glass edge acting somewhat like a guillotine in a side impact accident, and that as such you should never have a window down partway.


My Scion is like that, the windows leave about three inches of glass above the enclosure on the rear doors. This Dodge Caliber I’m in temporarily actually allows the back portion of the glass to recede fully into the door, but the glass starts to slope out of the door as you go towards the front of the car, and at the end of the window enclosure the glass is protruding about an inch.

I was just wondering guys, thanks. I assumed a safety issue, when in fact it appears to be a design one, with a lot of variance from model to model.

Looking at some Google images of the Caliber, I can see why. There’s probably enough room for the rear of the window to go all the way down without interfering with the wheel house, but in fact it would have to go considerably below the sill in order to allow the front of the window to clear the sill. If you look at the halo portion, it looks like it rises from the rear of the car towards the front of the car, meaning the glass is at a higher height there. The belt line of the door looks like it descends from the back to the front. And for obvious reasons, the glass channels have to be parallel for the window to go up and down. So, although the wheel housing doesn’t prevent the rear of the window from going all of the way down, it won’t let it go down far enough for the front of the window to clear the sill.

The halfway-down windows are for child safety, but the windows that go down all the way except for maybe an inch are due to design limitations.

Thanks Balthisar and Ferret Herder. I suppose that answers my question.

Back in the day when cars were a lot more rectangular, back windows DID go all the way down, but I suppose with the newer shapes of cars that benefit from “cab forward” designs, as well as front wheel drive and aerodynamics in general have caused this design it be prevalent.

That’s what they want you to think. Some auto manufacturers have turned a limitation into a feature.

I’ve been doing that forever in computer programming! :slight_smile: The good ol “undocumented feature”."

I don’t believe that’s true. The first time someone got trapped in a car and couldn’t get out because of the “mandatory child protectoin” feature, then there’d be lawsuits out the wazoo. Besides if that were true then auto manufacturers would make the same model without that limitation so they could custom sell their product.

Funny enough, back in the day, when most of us were kids, our parents had big boats for cars and the concept of the wheel well being part of the back door was ludicrous. So the call for smaller cars became louder (and I don’t think it had anything to do with gas, it was the auto companies looking to cut corners and build with much cheaper materials). So they built these cars, and I imagine that the rear windows not rolling down all the way probably wasn’t discovered until late in the design process of these newer cars. I’m sure there were a few high-level meetings on the half-down back windows and what to do about it. Of course the slimy bastards said it was a new “child safety feature.” It was a design flaw.

Enright3 – you got it.

There are a large number of cars out there that have child protection locks on the rear doors, i.e., like police cars, they can only be opened from the outside.