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For my third car in a row (2007 Nissan Altima, 2011 Mazda6, 2011 Infiniti G37), I get awful wind buffeting if I open the rear windows a few inches at any speed greater than 40 MPH.

But if I open the front windows the same amount, and at the same speed, there is almost no buffeting, ever.

What gives? Why does this phenomenon occur with the rear windows, but not the front windows?

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In the simplest terms possible, the windshield acts as a spoiler or fairing, pushing the air out and up as your vehicle gains speed. The air naturally will push back to be along the side of the vehicle.

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With the front windows open, there is enough pressure to push the air out away from the windows to give the feeling of less drag.

With the rear windows, the air has come back against the vehicle causing more drag. So, the buffeting you are describing is the air causing drag.

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