Jeeps may be the most fun vehicles you can drive. The go-anywhere, do-anything runabout of the automotive world has legions of owners and fans who are passionate about all things Jeep. From modifications to Jeeping adventures to debates over the best model years, there is plenty to keep online forums alive with chatter. Some topics provoke intense debate and raise some serious questions, like:
Can You Drive a Jeep With the Rear Window Open?
Can you drive a Jeep with the rear window open? You should not drive a Jeep with the rear window open. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, the struts that support the window will be subjected to more stress than they were designed to withstand. Secondly, the open window could allow exhaust fumes into the passenger compartment.
Of course, when you speak of shoulds and should-nots, you’ll get plenty of opinions on each side of the issue. And since Jeep owners are a free-spirited lot, the opinions are rather passionately expressed.
So, yes, there are those who will say that driving a Jeep with the rear window open is fine, that they’ve done it themselves plenty of times with no ill effects.
Rear Window Blues
One of the most popular features of a Jeep is its ability to be modified to its owner’s preferences. Whether through factory options or after-market modifications, the Jeep can be a virtual one-of-a-kind driving machine.
The most-modified Jeep model is the Jeep Wrangler. Its compact size, minimalistic design, and rugged reputation lends itself to many custom treatments with lights, roll bars, specialized bumpers, running boards and custom tops, just to name a few. The tops – soft tops, hardtops, canopy tops, camper tops and various iterations – are at the forefront of the rear window discussion.
The owner who would spend thousands of dollars on customizing his Jeep Wrangler is also most likely to seek the freedom of open windows when he drives. Sometimes, though, it’s a case of needing to haul something that won’t fit in the Wrangler’s compact spaces.
Other models of Jeep also have customizable features, and they also come into play in the rear window discussion, but the most prevalent model would be the Wrangler.
Keep it Closed
It’s not so much having the rear window open on a Jeep; it’s having the other ones closed. (In some cases, you couldn’t open them anyway.) Having ONLY the rear window open encourages the inflow of outside air. And two feet away from the window is the exhaust pipe, so you’re likely to get exhaust fumes in the passenger cabin.
If you can open a side window, it would make for a somewhat safer situation, as it would create a front-to-rear airflow. That could help minimize the infiltration of unwanted fumes through the back window. However, this won’t help when the Jeep comes to a complete stop or gets into a traffic jam, where fume-filled air is abundant all around.
There is an additional problem with the rear window on many Jeep hardtops if driving with it open is your goal. They are top-hinged, meaning they pivot open from the bottom and hang out over the rear bumper (and beyond).
This creates an even more dicey situation by cutting off an area into which fumes might otherwise dissipate. It’s almost like a funnel has been created that directs exhaust fumes right into the open rear window.
If your AC is set to “recirculate” you have yet another issue working against you. The AC unit draws air from the passenger cabin into the system. If the rear window is open, outside air will replace the inside air that has been drawn into the AC system.
There is, of course, an outflow of air coming from the vents, but the two currents of air don’t get in each other’s way for the most part. Therefore, there’s not anything to impede the influx of outside air through the rear window.
You Could Damage Your Rear Window
Since the rear window on many Jeeps – whether a factory hardtop or after-market – is hinged at the top, there has to be something that keeps it open when it’s lifted up. That job falls to a pair of small window struts, similar to the struts that provide suspension in the Jeeps’ chassis.
There’s not a whole lot to those struts. They’re basically just gas-filled tubes with just enough back pressure to resist the normal downward pressure exerted by the weight of the tailgate or window. They’re not strong enough to resist downward pressure when a person pushes down on the window to close it.
Over time, some of that gas leaks out, and the strut is less able to hold the window up. So when Jeep owners ride with their back window up, the bumps and thumps of the highway could put more stress on the struts that they’re able to resist. The window could then slam shut and possibly shatter.
How likely is that? Truthfully, it’s not very likely, but it is possible. At the very least, the Jeep owner is degrading the struts’ integrity if he rides with the rear window open very often. Sooner rather than later, the struts will need to be replaced.
Back Window Open Anyway
Despite all the warnings, some Jeepers will insist on driving with the rear window open. All it takes is one comment on a blog forum saying, “I do it all the time, and nothing bad’s ever happened,” to attract a host of followers to the practice.
They have work-arounds to make sure that the window doesn’t break or the exhaust fumes don’t come rushing in from the back, but if you have to employ work-arounds like that, maybe it’s not such a good idea to drive with the rear window open.
There might be occasions where the only way to get that step ladder home from the hardware store is to let it hang out the back window. So if that’s the case, and you have no other options (you probably do have other options, but . . ), be sure to secure the window so that it doesn’t bounce with every bump in the road. A couple of bungee cords should work, if you drive slowly.
And if you have the back window open, make sure you open another window – perhaps all the windows – to create enough back pressure to keep exhaust fumes from rolling in from the back.
If you have a removable top and the weather’s nice, just go convertible. It’s more fun anyway.
Are You A New Jeep Owner?
If you are, here are a few fun and friendly reminders about being a Jeep owner. Your life is going to change forever and most of them are in a good way. It’s only your wallet that will not like the Jeep.
How to Jeep
Jeep owners are a special breed, and to fit in with your brethren, there are some things that you need to learn and put into practice. They include:
- The Jeep wave – Always wave to fellow Jeepers.
- The Jeep pledge of allegiance – Be brand loyal at all times.
- Be ready to defend your model – Yours is the best. Be able to state why.
- Prepare to make new friends – They’ll want to go for rides.
- Secure your belongings – Jeeps with no tops or soft tops offer little security for thieves.
- The Jeep Broke Syndrome – It happens to everyone. The key is not to worry.
- Join a Jeep club – They’re everywhere.
- The Wrangler Death Wobble – Depending on vehicle load, the front wheels can suddenly wobble violently. Find out what caused it.
- Jeep events – A chance to show off your Jeep and network with other Jeep owners.
- Gas mileage is overrated – You bought a Jeep for the adventure. (It still gets better gas mileage than a Hummer.)
Can You Drive a Jeep With the Rear Window Open?