Why Are Jeep Window Controls in the Middle?

If you’ve ever been inside a Jeep Wrangler, you may have noticed something peculiar about the window controls. Unlike most vehicles where the window switches are located on the driver and passenger doors, Jeep places the window controls right in the center of the dashboard.

This unique design choice prompts the question – why are Jeep’s window controls positioned in the middle?

The primary reason has to do with Jeep Wrangler’s signature removable doors. By putting the window switches in the middle, Jeep ensures you can still easily operate the windows even with the doors off. Beyond that practical factor, the central placement also enhances convenience, reliability, and rear window control.

Removable Doors Allow Open-Air Freedom

One of the most iconic features of the Jeep Wrangler is its removable doors. Since the very first Wrangler in 1986, drivers have enjoyed the open-air experience of taking the doors completely off.

This fun feature provides an unobstructed view of the outdoors and a feeling of freedom. However, it also means the space where window controls are normally located – the doors – are gone.

Jeep’s solution is to put the window switches right in the center console. This allows for easy access to all window functions regardless of whether the doors are on or off.

Taking Off the Doors is Quick and Easy

The process for removing Wrangler doors is simple and can be done in just minutes with the provided tools.

First, the wiring harness connecting each door must be detached. This harness provides power to components like the windows, locks, and mirrors.

Next, a torx bolt located at the front of the door near the side mirror needs to be removed. This releases the door hinges from the body.

Finally, the door can be lifted up and away. Once removed, the doors can be securely stowed aboard the Wrangler using provided straps.

Driving Doorless is Thrilling but Requires Adjustment

Many Wrangler owners love the doorless driving experience offered in warm weather months. Not only is it great for enjoying sunshine and fresh air, but it also allows drivers to better take in the outdoors.

However, driving without doors does require some adjustment. The open cabin exposes occupants fully to the elements. This can mean louder wind noise, dust kicking up, and an increased sun exposure.

It’s also important to take precautions like:

  • Wearing eye protection like sunglasses
  • Applying sunscreen regularly
  • Keeping arms and legs inside vehicle while in motion
  • Reducing speed to control wind buffeting

Despite the need for adaptation, most find it is worth it for the unparalleled open-air adventure.

Central Window Controls Enhance Convenience

Beyond just enabling window operation without doors, the central dashboard placement has other advantages.

Having the switches located in the middle makes them equally convenient for both the driver and front passenger to access. Controls are positioned within easy reach, allowing quick up and down adjustment of any window.

In many vehicles, the driver has their window controls right at their left hand but reaching across to the other door for the other windows requires unwanted stretching and leaning. The Jeep setup eliminates this annoyance.

Kids and Passengers Can Control Their Own Windows

Allowing passengers, especially children, to control their own window can be advantageous. Kids often enjoy being able to put their own window up and down. The centered switches let them safely do so without distracting the driver.

Some other vehicles have secondary window controls located in the rear doors or armrest. However, the centered dashboard switches in the Wrangler give all riders easy command of their window.

Power Window Operation Remains Steady

An additional benefit of the central layout is that window operation feels consistent regardless of whether doors are on or off. Pulling the switches up or pushing down provides the same steady power window movement.

In contrast, having controls attached to the removable doors could potentially interfere with smooth electrical operation once the doors are disconnected. The Jeep’s centralized switches avoid any issues.

Reliability and Weight Savings

Though not conclusively proven, some Jeep experts suggest the middle window switch placement enhances reliability in other ways as well.

First, it reduces the amount of wiring and electronics located in the removable doors. With fewer components to potentially fail in the doors, it improves overall reliability.

Second, eliminating the window switches and associated wiring slightly reduces weight in the doors. Since the Wrangler is focused on off-road performance, decreasing weight where possible has advantages. Less door weight puts less strain on the hinges and makes removing them a bit easier.

Overall, the simplified door wiring and construction contributes to the Wrangler’s rugged durability and capability. The central window controls are part of creating a lean, efficient design.

Rear Window Controls Provide Override

Some Jeep Wrangler models have an additional feature in the centered window control panel related to rear windows.

In the four-door Wrangler Unlimited, there are typically switches on the rear doors that allow back seat passengers to control their windows. However, the center console switch panel contains a “rear window lockout” switch.

This switch allows the driver or front passenger to disable the rear door window controls. It essentially gives front riders override capability and control.

Parents, for example, may want to lock the rear switches while young kids are riding in back. This way, children can’t inadvertently put their windows all the way down without adult supervision. It enhances safety and peace of mind.

Jeep Stuck With What Works

When Jeep first debuted in the 1940s, the short wheelbase MB model also featured a centered dashboard switch for driver window control. This was necessary because the primitive convertible-style doors had no interior handles or controls.

The design concept carried over to early CJ models and was ultimately adapted to accommodate power windows. As years passed, later Wrangler versions retained the proven middle switch placement.

For Jeep, the approach simply worked, so why change it? The thinking was likely, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The unconventional layout became part of Wrangler’s unique identity.

Even the newest Jeep models like the Gladiator pickup truck stay true to the heritage by keeping the characteristic center console window switches. For Jeep purists, it just wouldn’t be right any other way.

In Summary

The Wrangler’s eye-catching doorless design comes with a practical challenge – how to keep controlling the windows. Jeep’s solution is mounting the switches centrally in the dashboard rather than the doors.

Beyond enabling window operation without doors, the middle placement has become an advantage. The convenient location enhances comfort, while potentially boosting reliability and weight savings as well.

In an era where new vehicles increasingly standardize designs, the distinctive center window switches remain a charming Jeep anomaly. For Wrangler diehards, it’s one of many traits that set their preferred 4×4 apart from everything else on the road.


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