Today: Rising Belt Lines Explained

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 22, 2015

Dear Car Talk:

What is a "rising belt line"? I saw a car review recently on your cartalk.com website that said "... as today's styles call for a rising belt line ..." Thanks.

-- Ed

Well, Ed, the longer a man is married, the higher his belt line gets. I've been married for over 40 years now, and my belt's hiked up just a scooch below my Adam's apple when I mumble, "Yes, dear."

In automotive terms, the belt line is that line formed on the side of the car where the top of the metal part of the door meets the bottom of the window glass. That line extends from headlight to taillight along the side.

If you look at older cars, you'll see that the belt line didn't rise much from front to back; it was a pretty flat line. But if you look at cars today, the vast majority of them have belt lines that rise up and get higher from front to rear.

From a styling point of view, that gives the car more of a wedge shape, and makes it look as if it's in motion even when it's standing still. From a practical point of view, it means you can no longer see bupkus out of the back window. Or sometimes out of the rear side windows.

Fortunately, this styling trend has coincided with the advent of backup cameras, rear-cross-traffic alert systems and blind-spot monitors. So instead of looking behind you, you increasingly count on electronics to tell you what's there.

It takes some getting used to. And the American Chiropractors Association is opposed to it, because blind-spot monitors and backup cameras have been shown to prevent stiff necks, which cuts into business.

But the electronic aids do work. The problem is that not every car with a rising belt line offers those features, or offers them affordably. So for people with those cars, we have an older technology: accident insurance.


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