My "singing" windshield

The windshield on my 04 suburu outback whistles something fierce with a cross wind, which happens often in Kansas. I have taken it into the dealership twice now. The first time they resealed it. It didn’t work. The second time the said it was fixed and there was no problem. The mechanic then pulled me aside and said there is a problem and Suburu denying having this problem. But he gave me no advice. I have a 15 month old and sometimes her naps are in the car, especially on upcoming summer trips. I would like a silent windshield. Any suggestions??

I am trying to imagine how a windshield could whistle.

I have seen a radio antennas whistle - the kind of antenna that attaches to the pillar at the corner of the windshield. The solution for that was to make plastic spacers that lifted the antenna up higher off the car. Once I got the gap wider, it stopped whistling.

Some cars make a noise similar to blowing on the edge of a piece of paper in a strong crosswind. That is caused by the air reversing direction in the duct work. It is caused by a high-speed cross flow of air across the air inlet at the base of the windshield. It only happens when the crosswind speed is close to or faster than the vehicle’s speed. Turning the fan on high helps. Switching to recirculate might help.

I am going to give you an alternate theory as to the source of the noise.

Although I am a Subaru fan, I dislike their use of “frameless” side windows. Because of this design, the windows in the doors do not always seal as thoroughly as they should against their rubber seals. To their credit, the company has finally changed that design with the new design Forester, and the new 2010 Outback and Legacy will also have “conventional” windows. The Tribeca already has this more sensible, less troublesome design.

There is a procedure to realign the “frameless” windows so that they make full contact with the rubber seals, but it involves taking the door apart, and many dealers may be reluctant to get involved in this tedious adjustment procedure. I would suggest that you offer this alternate theory of one or more of the side windows being the culprit, rather than the windshield, and see what the service writer’s reaction might be.

Oh, and by the way, the brand of your car is spelled SUBARU, not Suburu.

It’s All Up To You . . . My Subaru!
You’ve been hung out to dry . . . or go whistle, rather.

But that’s OK. You can handle it. You will have to conduct a series of “controlled experiments”. What fun this can be and what a feeling of satisfaction you will get by outsmarting the folks at Subaru. You will have the most fun when you go back to the dealer to tell them where the whistle originates or how you fixed it.

Do this: Purchase a roll of 2" wide masking tape. I’m thinking you should pay a little extra and buy the blue stuff that peels of more easily and might even re-stick to be moved around. Carry this roll with you wherever you drive.

Next time the conditions are right and the whistling begins, pull over in a safe location. Try taping over sections of different possible sources of whistleness, like the top of the windshield edge (paricularly if there are trim moldings), the bottom of it, one side, the other side, the antenna base (as suggested by Manilito), wiper blades/arms, side window edges, air vent intakes (as suggested by Manilito), outside mirrors, etcetera, etcetera.

The controlled part: Tape and untape only one small item or section at a time or when the whistling stops, uncover a little of it at a time in order to zero in on it. Each change requires you to stop in a safe place and change the tape. You don’t have to do it all a once (you’ve put up with this for a while now). One or two tries per trip is good. Keep track of where you’ve taped and not taped.

I have confidence that you’ll find it and possibly figure out a cure or at least point your mechanic in the right direction. Have fun and good luck. I hope that wind starts blowing for you!

P.S. Maybe you should do this when the 15 month old daughter is not onboard, unless you can do it very safely and quietly.

P.P.S. Oh, and you probably know that the sufaces that are getting the tape will need to be really clean and dry. You maybe have to carry windex and paper towels (I’ve never been to kansas, but I’ve heard about the dust.)


I once rented a Ford Taurus while on a vacation and the windshield buzzed at speeds over 50 miles per hour. It sounded like a nest of angry hornets. I returned the car to the rental agency and they swapped me for an upgrade for free. When I turned in the replacement, I asked about the original car. The clerk said that the first car they rented me had had the windshield replaced and the job apparently wasn’t done correctly. You may have something wrong with the windshield. Rather than go to the dealership, take the car to a glass shop. A body shop may be able to recommend one for you. These glass shops often come to your house. You could have the technician take a ride and he may be able to confirm that it is the windshield and know more than the dealer about how to do a correct repair.