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Whopping noise from open rear windows on 2010 Corolla LE

I’ve learned I can’t drive with my rear windows open because it generates this whopping noise that’s so bad it hurts your ears and shakes the car a bit at highway speeds. Sounds like a helicopter sitting on top of the car. I’m thinking it’s caused by the air waffling in the rear window/deck space, since it’s only slightly better since I took off the rear seat headrests. It happens at speeds over about 25 mph, and is unbearable at speeds over 50. Does anyone else have this problem, or better yet have an explanation?

Unfortunately this is common on many cars, resulting from how the air flows over the windows at speed. Only thing I know is to fiddle with the window openings until you find a combination that works.

My 2006 Matrix does this too. It’s called buffeting.
It’s like blowing over the tone hole of a flute.
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Opening one or both front windows a little damps it out.

This buffeting/cavitation phenomenon is present in virtually all modern cars.
Because they are designed for maximum aerodynamics and because the designers intended for the windows to be kept closed for maximum fuel economy, this situation is essentially standard equipment on cars nowadays.

As circuitsmith mentioned, the only (partial) cure is to open one or both front windows a bit.

While I agree that the modern designs cause this, the first time it happened to me was with our '84 Jeep Cherokee (the small one). About as far from aerodynamic as one can get…

As others stated this is very common. On my Civic I’ve found that if I open the moonroof, keep the front windows closed and open one (not both) rear window about 1 1/2 to 2 inches I get good air flow in the entire cabin with no buffeting. Experiment with your car until you find a good solution.

Yup, what they said.

I have found that, even with the front windows closed, opening the fresh air from the Heat-AC-Vent system reduces the rear-window buffeting. That has worked on two or three different cars, including a 2004 Camry. Gives nice fresh air in the front, with the windows closed so your hat doesn’t get blown off.

While each car is different, I can recall this phenomenon in may parent’s cars from way back when I was a kid in the '50s and '60s. Sedans have always suffered from this to some extent.

There is no solution other than to experiment with different window configurations until you see what works in your car.

We have it on the Yaris too, but we have AC.

As stated before this is a common phenomenon. The buffeting will also loosen a headliner if the adhesive if weak. That will open a whole new can of worms.

Thanks everyone. Guess I’ve been lucky to never have had this problem before. As noted, I can crack the rear windows an inch or two without it happening, but as far as using the vents or AC goes, I’m a big fan of cruising with the windows open (below 90 degrees), so that’s why this is disappointing. Haven’t lost my hat yet!