cars can park themselves, connect to your smartphone and
warn about traffic in your blind spot, so why can’t
they keep snow and rain from pouring onto your head when
you open the door?
a combination of fashion and fuel economy, but help
could be on the way.
decades, cars had "drip rails" along each side
of the roof to protect your head, upholstery and sanity
from snow and icy water.
rails or rain gutters used to be de rigueur on all
automobiles," said Matt Anderson, curator of
transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn,
started to disappear in the mid-’80s. It was a
concession to styling and fuel economy and reducing wind
noise," Anderson said, "but you do get snow on
the seat and rain falling on your head."
change made cars more attractive and aerodynamic, said
Peter Davis, vehicle design chief for consultant Tata
Technologies. The rails on the roof disrupted air flow
and altered the car’s profile.
rid of the rails improved fuel efficiency and reduced
advent of one-piece body sides also contributed to the
drip rail’s demise. Using a big single piece of metal
for the entire side of a vehicle eliminates squeaks and
gaps between body panels, but it also got rid of the
gutter’s spot where the panels met.
and aerodynamics also drove a move from vehicles with
vertical sides to windows that angle inward and doors
that wrap up into the roof. That creates another
opportunity for snow or rain to fall into the car by
moving the opening where the door and roof come together
so snow falls onto the seat rather than to the vehicle
1986 Ford Taurus was the beginning of the end for drip
rails. Acclaimed for its aerodynamic "jelly
bean" look, it rewrote the book on the American
family sedan. When the ’89 Honda Accord followed
without drip rails, the die was cast.
hopes the 2015 Mustang coupe and convertible will reduce
the problem when they go on sale late this year. Both
have roofs designed to direct water away from the doors
added a V-shaped insert" along the edge of the
convertible’s fabric roof, Ford engineer Andre
Beduschi said. "It acts as a trough to wick water
away. It performs much better than our current
Mustang coupe’s metal roof has little ridges along its
outer edges that channel water to the front and rear of
the car. "The sheet metal and offsets and moldings
in the doors were developed to keep water from pouring
in," Ford engineer Ron Lovasz said.
like that may reduce the amount of rain that gets into
cars, but snow will remain an issue as long as the sides
of cars continue to slope inward to the roof and use
one-piece metal stampings.
best advice may be to keep the snow brush handy and
brush the roof off before you open the doors. Be warned,
though: the trunk has even less protection to keep snow
out than the doors.
been that kind of winter: Resistance is futile.