One of the best parts of having a Jeep is being able to customize your ride for whatever purposes you are looking for on any given day.
Do you want to have a hard top or a soft top? Simply configure your vehicle the way you want it to. Are you looking for the doors on or off? Do you want to go off-roading or stay on the road? Jeeps are truly versatile vehicles that can do a little bit of everything, which may be why they appeal to such a wide audience of fans.
One of the biggest questions that get asked about Jeep vehicles is whether or not users can drive with their windshield down. On top of the functionality of driving without a windshield, many people also want to know, “Is It Legal?”.
Can You Drive a Jeep With the Windshield Down?
Can you drive a Jeep with the windshield down? Yes, as long as your local laws allow you can drive with a Jeep windshield down it will be okay. Many laws state that vehicles built without a windshield can be driven without one. The Jeep is built with a folding windshield and often fits within these guidelines. *Not legal advice – verify and follow all local, state, and Federal laws.
Today, we’re taking a look at everything that has to do with your Jeep windshield and whether or not you should drive with it down, including the legality of doing so.
The Legal Issue
The biggest issue with using a Jeep with the windshield down is going to be the legality of your situation within your local jurisdiction.
One thing to note before we get into any of this is that if you are on property that is privately owned then you generally won’t have anything to worry about. These laws apply to public areas and are enforced locally by many different jurisdictions.
When it comes to the legality of driving a Jeep with a windshield down, you will probably need to look into your local laws. Most laws are written so that if your vehicle is installed with a windshield that it needs to be intact on your car.
Those are generally laws written to say that a driving car can’t just be missing a windshield. Some jurisdictions may interpret the laws differently though, so again you may want to check how your local law is written or make a phone call to your local department to see if this applies to you.
If your Jeep is installed so that your windshield folds down, then it more than likely isn’t breaking any vehicle code laws because everything is operating correctly.
Basically, you can think of a Jeep similar to a motorcycle in that sense. Motorcycles are obviously allowed to operate without windshields because they are designed that way and produced without windshields.
One thing that motorcycle operators do however is wear some sort of eye protection. This is probably a bigger issue than anything else about operating a Jeep without a windshield down.
All kinds of things can come flying at your face and if you are driving at a fast speed, things like insects and rocks are going to become quite painful.
One thing you can also say about the legality of having a Jeep windshield down is that is probably going to slightly depend on the day as far as what is allowed or what might cause you problems.
It is simply a fact of life that you can run into certain people who are going to let things slide, where as other people may be having a bad day and be more apt to give you problems, no matter what you are doing. You should probably factor that in to your situation when you are trying to decide on what to do.
Taking the Jeep Windshield Down
On newer models of the Jeep such as the Jeep Wrangler JL, you can actually take the windshield off quite easily. It’s basically a 15 minute process to get the windshield folded down.
You’ll need to remove 4 bolts and 2 nuts that keep the windshield wipers attached. Even in older models, it probably is not too much of a problem to get the windshield folded down, but it is probably a longer process than a quarter of an hour.
One thing to note is that you are going to need to tie your windshield down if you plan on travelling fast or really any kind of significant distance at all other than a parking lot with your Jeep windshield down.
This is because the windshield is going to be significantly prone to taking damage if it is simply lying on your hood. No matter how smooth the ride is in your Jeep, it’s not going to be smooth enough to have 0 bumps and that is basically what you would need to ensure the safety of your windshield.
Even though we will discuss speeds later, related to the windshield being tied down, it’s important that you don’t go over 50 mph with the windshield down.
The drag and wind resistance can actually blow the windshield back up if you go at a high enough speed and that would cause the windshield to come flying back up towards the Jeep in the normal position which is going to crack and significantly damage the windshield.
Speed, Usage, and More
Generally speaking, if you have the windshield down you are going to be operating the vehicle at fairly low speeds.
It is completely inadvisable to take a Jeep on the highway or freeway with the windshield down for a number of reasons. If you go over 50 mph, you may run the risk of having the windshield pop back up into place completely destroying it.
More than that though, you have taken away any protection you have from the outside world. You may think that this is normal although today even motorcycles have some kind of protection that allow them to operate safely without concerns about debris or other objects hitting you as a driver.
With the Jeep windshield down, that is exactly what you are going to need to watch out for.
A pebble or an insect may not seem like a big problem, but if you hit one of those at high speed and it comes right at your face you are going to have a pretty unpleasant experience.
That’s why some of the laws that are on the books require you to wear eye protection of some kind whether it’s a pair of glasses or googles or a helmet visor type deal.
If you have seen a car windshield get cracked from something driving down the highway, you can imagine the large amount of impact that the debris, or pebble, or rock had.
When you think about bigger cracks, you can imagine what those kinds of rocks would do getting kicked up from the road and directly into your face. Simply having a pair of glasses on is not going to save you from that situation, you are going to be in a bad place for sure.
Jeep itself recommends that you only drive up to 10 mph with the windshield down. That seems pretty low for what a lot of people are thinking about in this situation.
That would basically mean that you can take the windshield down when off-roading on certain trails.
In practice, many people are going to exceed that 10 mph number, even if just when driving to and from certain trails, however, it is probably going to be left up to your judgment whether you want to listen to Jeep or not. They are the ones who made the vehicle, after all.
If you are trying to drive this anywhere at all, especially if you are going over 10 mph, you want to tie the windshield down so that it doesn’t get bumped.
If you are driving and hit a pothole and the windshield is not tied down, you are going to get a huge crack in the windshield which is an enormous repair bill.
Obviously, if you take that concept and apply it to the off-roading terrain where everything is bumpy, you’re going to get a very similar answer.
Many Jeep owners have driven on local roads, dirt roads, and in small towns with a fair amount of success.
It would make sense that if they keep their speed low, they’re going to be fairly comfortable and not have too many problems.
In this scenario, you can think of the Jeep vehicle similar to any other kind of scooter or 4-wheeler type of set up. Those can be driven safely at speeds that increase up to 25-30 mph very easily, however they don’t have the power of what a Jeep does so you just want to be careful.
You will need to check your local laws to make sure that your Jeep is able to operate safely wherever you are.
There are tons of different rulings made based by each individual state. At the end of the day, you will probably need eye protection, you will want to make sure that your windshield is tied down, and you will want to make sure that you are not driving too fast.
If you follow those procedures, you are probably going to be just fine operating your Jeep without a windshield, as long as the laws say that you are good to go.