Car window wiper mystery

This one has been bothering me for years: why don’t all cars have rear window wipers?

Typically station wagons, hatchbacks and all sorts of minivans and SUVs have one; but ordinary four-door cars almost never do. Yet the need is identical: why, then, discriminate against these?

If you have a good answer, post it in the comments!

10 Responses to “Car window wiper mystery”


  1. 1 charlie

    you can’t reach the rear window from the backseat of an SUV, but can from the backseat of a sedan.

  2. 2 Tom Burnham

    I think it has to do with the angle of the glass. Some windows naturally collect more crud (mostly dust) than others. Look around and see whether wipers are not more prevalent on windows which are more nearly vertical than those which lack wipers.

  3. 3 Nathan Zeldes

    Interesting idea, Tom. I’ll look to see whether that relationship exists, though my impression is that the division is exact – four doors no wiper, 5 doors yes. Of course four door cars also have a more slanting glass.

  4. 4 Amitai

    Nathan,

    In Israel – that’s the law. Even when the geometry of the car is (virtually) unchanged, if the rear window is part of a hatch – it has to have a wiper (see Mazda6 for example). It makes no sense.

    On cars with vertical rear windows, and without a separate trunk (like minivans, or Renault Clio), a rear wiper is really beneficial, becuase all the crud thrown into the air by your own car ends up on your rear window – probably has to do with turbulence behind your car.

  5. 5 Jamie Gruener

    I’m with Nathan. It makes no sense that non-hatchbacks lack a rear wiper. We recently sold our Civic hatchback that had fairly vertical rear glass and a wiper. Had it been a sedan, the wiper would have been missing.

    I think the reason hatchbacks get wipers is because there’s room for it. In sedans there is less room for wiper arms. But that’s just a guess.

  6. 6 GREZZ

    the air flow over the sedan cars it’s different from the hatchbacks

    in an hatch, the car’s shape ends BEFORE the rear glass, and so the air falls (for aerodynamics purposes the air must fall right at the end of the car) over the window

    in a sedan, the car ends AFTER the rear window, so the big fall is after the tail, just where the plate is located

    sorry for my bad english, i’m from Italy

  7. 7 M@

    It could have something to do with the size of the vehicle. On smaller vehicles the side mirrors allow you to see a greater percentage of what’s behind you, while larger vehicles rely more heavily on their back window.

    A modern station wagon and a modern coup or 4-door are about the same width, so my point above is moot; perhaps the idea was incorporated back in yore when the width difference between the two was greater? I dunno.

  8. 8 Mohamad Asoudeh

    Hi there. I think all cars are required to have a rear wiper.
    Vehicles in high speed air flow is rapidly moving toward the rear of the rear does not rain Hit Slow .On the inside of the vehicle speed is low. Be required. I’ve designed for rear wiper sedan. The beautiful and interesting. I am an Iranian. I have made it. Because it is really necessary.

  9. 9 Steve

    THE REALITY…

    I have been driving for 40 years and still see absolutely no need for a wiper to scratch dirt and sand and crud into a piece of glass on the back of your vehicle when you have side view mirrors for the very purpose of seeing emergency vehicles or someone else coming up behind you.
    If you must see out that window (which is not a requirement by our laws in the US because pickup trucks can have toppers and vans can be totally enclosed, so that the only rear view you have is your legal side mirrors) then I get out and wipe the window off before you back up to your trailer or jeopardize anything or anyone that might be in that blocked the area.

    I honestly chuckle every time I see someone running one of those wipers while driving down the highway 60 miles an hour in the rain. If you have to see through that window under those conditions you probably don’t belong driving on that highway.

  10. 10 Jimmy

    That rear wiper is an absolute joke… I HATE when I accidentally turn it on and it leaves a wiper mark on the window. What’s even funnier is the little wipers on the headlights… you got to be kidding me.. what a waste of money.. I get it if you drove down a dirt road all day long and they were on a 4X4 SUV but to be on a Mercedes and/or BMW, Something that barely drive through a pothole, C’mon!!!

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