What Is Wind Buffeting and How to Stop It

You know that helicopter sound that happens when you’re on the freeway with a window down? It’s called wind buffeting and getting rid of it is simple.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

What is Wind Buffeting?

It happens in almost all vehicles. Wind buffeting occurs when you roll down a window while driving, usually at highway speeds. The throbbing, helicopter-like sound is the outside air passing over and interacting with the contained air inside the vehicle.

When the two air masses collide, they compress and decompress repeatedly. This produces the throbbing effect. It can be as loud as a commercial aircraft.

Many variables contribute to the effect: car shape and size, how far you lower windows down and your speed. The effect can happen when any single window is down, including the sunroof.

The helicopter sound is more pronounced when a rear window is down. This is because the side mirrors are designed to direct air flow away from the front windows. Lowering a rear window amplifies the effect.

Wind Buffeting Is Worse on Newer Cars

Why? Because cars are so aerodynamic, wind passes over them extremely efficiently. When a window opens, the air flow is disrupted, magnifying the buffeting effect. Older vehicles were designed less efficiently and air leaked from their insides. The leaking air relieves the pressure caused by wind buffeting, reducing the effect.

How Do You Stop Wind Buffeting?

Simple: Open another window. That way the pressure inside the vehicle stabilizes and the buffeting stops, or at least minimizes.

Some vehicles have plastic deflectors at the front edge of side windows. They help direct wind out and away from the vehicle. Vehicles with sunroofs may have these deflectors to direct wind flow up and away from the cabin. Aftermarket roof racks can also contribute to wind buffeting. Pick up a wind fairing to reduce it.

Shay Tilander
Shay Tilander is a senior editor at Family Handyman. When he's not enjoying family time with his wife and three boys, he loves tinkering with projects and geeking out on electronics.