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Car windows with black band on the margin, reducing the actual size. Why?

I was driving behind a RAV4 yesterday and noticed that the rear window had a black band around it, about 3-4 inches in width, reducing the visibility. And the small side-rear windows had a similar band.

Why would a manufacturer take a design that already had poor visibility and make it even worse by adding that black band around the margins of the windows?

I’m driving a similar car, a Forester, which I picked for it’s better visibility (and other reasons), doesn’t have this “feature”. But I do see it on many models. Can anyone tell me the reason? Is it to make the window appear larger than it actually is?

The frit is a black enamel band that is literally baked into the edges of the windshield glass.The purpose of the frit is to provide an etched surface that allows adhesive to bond to the glass. The frit on the other glass is for the same thing since the glass is bonded to some type of frame.

Missleman: but why is is 4 inches wide on some cars, and zero on others?

Yeah, it’s much bigger than the glue band. It’s there to conceal the fact that the actual window is much smaller than it appears. If that part was clear, you’d be looking at the body, not into the interior. It’s a very common trick now, look at just about any new vehicle and you’ll see it. They do it to increase the strength of the body but not have the windows look too small. I was following a new Jaguar F type coupe, the actual working rear window is TINY!

That’s the answer I assumed. Just wanted a check.

Sigh… why do car designers place looks above safety???

The designers figure it’s better to make the passenger compartment stronger since everyone is looking at their smart phones and not out the windows anyway. [/sacrasm]

Yes, I forgot about the need to score high on crash tests - smaller windows = better scores.

That black band also prevents degradation of the adhesive due to UV rays.

Anyway, in looking at the photo of the Jag, and I can’t help but suspect that the width of the black area is to hide huge B pillars, said pillars being there to pass crash and rollover tests. The car would look much less attractive if the sheetmetal were to be brought further around to meet the visual area of the glass. Proportions would be strange. In short, I suspect it’s a combination of structural requirements AND aesthetic requirements.

But it’s very possible to design a safe car with good visibility that will pass the crash tests. The forester is a good example. It’s visibility is only fair (my opinion) but much better than it’s peers.

Yes, I forgot about the need to score high on crash tests - smaller windows = better scores.
Yeah, but smaller windows = more probability of not seeing something small, like a pedestrian. While flipping a car is undoubtedly a time when you want good structural integrity, it comes at the cost of making it harder to see stuff (specifically, to see pedestrians due to the side-curtain airbags hidden in the pillars). Plus, "high beltlines" are an affront to fashion, be it on a Buick, or a septuagenarian.

For safety…I’d sooner have big windows, to get as much info to me, the driver, as possible…and leave it to me to see that the car remains “greasy side down.”

I’m guessing the Jag has a rear view camera… as well as a “object in rear” warning system.

I needed a new commuter/family car in 1998. Two of the finalists were the Oldsmobile Intrigue and Buick Regal. The Olds was a little more fun to drive, but the Buick had better side impact test results. I opted for better safety because I had 3 children. I never had a side impact on the rear doors, but I still felt better about it.

A serious tip of the hat for placing the safety of your children above the snazziness of your car. You have earned my respect. :star:

I guess my brain must be fried tonight but I’m just not getting it. I understand the glue strip but how does a black band make the window look larger? To me it makes it look smaller which would make sense to me instead of having a massive window that has more structural integrity than the sheet metal?

I would wonder if part of it isn’t to block the sun on the massive windows. I remember renting a Gremlin way back in 72 or so in Texas in July. We drove a couple hundred miles in the hot sun and we had our luggage in back. Mine was a quality hard side but it was so hot back there my suitcase actually warped. That was that big glass back window with no tinting. Glad I wasn’t a dog back there.

bing: if the designer made the window the size of the inside line of the black strip, it would be smaller. The black strip allows the designer to make the apparent size of the window larger than the actual size.

BillRussell said: "… why do car designers place looks above safety??? "

Because the average buyer does also.

It always amazes me - and it shouldn’t! - that many things are designed to look attractive, but just don’t work well because of the way they are designed. Take low profile tires for example. They work EXTREMELY well for cornering, but not so much for ride and impact resistance (potholes!), so why is it that car designers use low profile tires on the ubiquitous 4 door sedan? They do it because it sells cars!

@CapriRacer, that raises the question: is it ethical for an auto designer to place style above safety?

The prime example is the poor visibility out of rear windows, due to the theme “rising belt line is good”. It’s probably impossible to get a number, but given all the auto accidents that occur each year, that poor visibility must have been responsible of some number of deaths.

And the extremely low profile tires are another prime example.

Actually, I would argue that the safety priority is what’s causing the compromise (black strip) to accomplish style. That would make safety first and styling second.

Yes, as far as crash test scores. But visibility is sure suffering.

Safety is pretty good in a tank but visibility and styling suffer.