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Ask Doug: Why Do People Put their Top Down and Their Windows Up?

Good news, people of Oversteer: Friday is back, and that means it’s time for your favorite column: Ask Doug! For those of you who are new to Oversteer, this is when you “ask Doug” some sort of automotive related question, and Doug responds in a rambling, incoherent manner.

For those of you who want your question responded to in a rambling, incoherent manner, you can participate in Ask Doug! Just send me an e-mail at, and I will happily read your e-mail, and possibly even laugh at it, especially if you’re asking about whether you made a mistake in purchasing a first-generation Audi allroad.

Anyway, on to today’s question, which comes from a reader I’ve named Gerald. Gerald writes:

Hey Doug,

Now that summer is in full swing here in the Midwest, I have a question that has irked me since I was a kid. I was the lucky offspring of a father who thought the addition of a red 1987 Chevy Caviler convertible to the family stable was logical. He now owns what I like to call the Blue Noodle, a 2004 Sebring Convertable. Now, these cars themselves do not bother me, I know they were hoopties the day they rolled off the assembly line, but to each his own. What does bother me is that he and about every odd older convertible I see with the top down has the little rear windows up! Are these people unaware that these windows are not down? Do they do not look in their blind spots? The aesthetics are completely destroyed with these dual clear sharks fins. Please, oh, please explain why these drivers do this?

Thanks, Doug and to each his own,


Excellent inquiry, Gerald, and don’t worry — you didn’t need to tell me you were from the Midwest. I could’ve guessed it based on the fact that it took you 164 words to write out your question, and also because you know one single individual who owned both a 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier convertible and a 2004 Chrysler Sebring convertible. But, anyway, let’s get to it.

The question here is: Why do people drive around with their convertible top down and their rear windows up? I’m going to expand this a bit and ask why people drive around with their convertible top down and any windows up, and then we’ll cover the rear windows.

Here’s why people drive around with the top down and the windows up: Because it eliminates blowing wind. If you’ve ever attempted to drive around with a convertible top down and the windows also down, you’ll notice that the blowing wind — especially at high speeds — is just massive. It blows and blows and blows and blows and it ends up messing up your hair, and it dries out your eyes, and eventually you wish you hadn’t bought a convertible, and eventually you wish you hadn’t bought any car, and eventually you wish you spent every waking moment of your life inside, where it’s still.

Automakers have learned this, and they’ve figured out a solution: In virtually every car with a power-operated top, the windows now come up after the top has automatically lowered. So you press the button to lower the top, the top lowers and then the windows come back up to prevent the blowing. Of course, if you want, you can put those windows back down, but the default position is up.

And this leads us to the answer to Gerald’s question. Because here’s what happens when people leave up the rear windows: The top has gone down, the windows have come back up and now they want to roll the window down because they like the blowing air. So they roll down the front window, and they forget the back window is up, and they just cruise around, all happy with the top down and the window down, oblivious to the fact that A) the rear window is still up, and B) they are living inside an automotive tornado.

So this explains the phenomenon on cars with automatic tops. But what about cars with manual tops? Well, in that case a similar thing happens: The driver puts down the top, manually — and once the top is down, the windows remain up. So the driver goes to roll down the window, but they only roll down the front one, forgetting that the rear window is up at all.

And so, Gerald, now you can see why this happens. I hope your father enjoys his Blue Noodle. Find a convertible for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. My car is a pain to put all four windows down since they’re all manual but the top is power, so after putting it down I have to reach around the car and crank them all down. A lot of the time i’ll just roll down the driver’s side front and keep the other three up if I don’t have the time and patience.

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