I like to have the occasional cigarette while driving, particularly when traveling non-trivial distances (e.g. 45 - 60 minutes or more). This can be somewhat problematic in moderate to heavy rain as having my window cracked for ventilation inevitably leads to rain dripping onto the interior of my car.

Now, there is a commercial product available for this type situation, sometimes referred to as "rain guards" or "side window deflectors". The functionality of this device should be clear in the image below:

                              enter image description here

Being that this is Lifehacker, I am looking for a homegrown solution to this problem taking into account some of the following criteria:

  • I do not want anything permanently affixed to my car. Any kind of "device" needing to be attached should be temporary and trivially removable, and (obviously) should not damage the vehicle in any way.
  • A solution to this doesn't necessarily have to replicate the exact functionality of the commercial rain guard device pictured above; and in fact, would preferably involve using some type of interior-based (as opposed to exterior-based) device(s).

Over time I have come up with different hacks to varying degrees of success, none of which have reliably solved the issue. For example, if my gym bag happens to be present, one end of a spare sock can be tucked into the depression of the arm rest, while the other end is laid over the power window controls:

                enter image description here

This addresses what is probably the primary concern: keeping my power window, etc... buttons dry, since water and electricity do not mix well. However, I don't always have a sock (or sock-like object) around, and at any rate, the "sock" method misses the mark in a couple of ways, which I've tried to highlight with red ovals in the above pictures:

  • In the left picture, you can see that the speaker mounted in the side door panel is exposed in such a way that rain can (and has) dripped down onto it. Broken speakers are useless to me, and therefore I would like for this to not happen.
  • In the picture on the right, I've highlighted a key area on the top of my door panel that is exposed. This is usually the first stop for intrusive rain drops, which I have to try to intercept (e.g. by wiping them with a napkin, my hand, etc...) before they drip down onto the speaker (and, if I am without an extra sock, my power window controls). In any case, I am really trying to keep this area dry because (a) I have a leather interior; and (b) doing so would most likely keep the speaker directly below dry as well.

To summarize, I am looking for a way to keep the interior of my car dry when I am driving in the rain and my window is slightly open (rolled down roughly 1 - 2 inches) - particularly the three regions annotated in the above photos. Ideally a solution would be fairly autonomous - it should not pose a significant distraction from my primary responsibility (driving safely).

And to clarify, I am completely open to something like the "sock method" that targets the top of my door panel. I have not found a suitable equivalent for this yet - i.e. something which can be rested stably in that area without having to hold it in place.

6 Answers 6


Frankly, the solution is simple: Don't smoke in the car.

Obvious health and financial benefits aside, there's some more benefits:

  • You don't need to buy anything to prevent rain from entering your car.
  • The car's value will not decrease due to the lingering smell of smoke. (Saving even more money in the long run)
  • Your drive will be significantly safer, since you don't need to pay attention to a cigar / cigarette any more. Especially in emergency situations, a dropped (lit) cigarette can be a massive distraction.
  • As mentioned in the comments, technically, it's illegal to drive with only one hand on the wheel, in some countries.
  • 1
    Not to mention that it's technically illegal to smoke, because you are required, by law, to hold the steering wheel with both hands at all times except for when handling the gear or some other action that's required for the car's functioning. Jan 12, 2016 at 15:38
  • 2
    ^ In Israel it's illegal. In the US this isn't the case, though a driving instructor would likely not pass you if you did the test with only one hand.
    – TylerH
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:02

I do believe that since we're talking about cars and traffic safety I would strongly recommend buying the professional rain guards, which should be available at reasonable prices. I would not suggest to make something intermediate which has even a low risk of falling of the car and hitting other traffic. This is especially dangerous/probable if you talk about fixing something to the top of the car window frame whilst driving!

The alternate solution, that is attaching something on the inside, could be viable, but I'm not sure how pretty it would be. This could be fasten intermediately or more permanently depending on needs, and how nice you want it.

One intermediate way could be to have a thin plexiglass where you glue a larger piece of clear plastic to it. The plexiglass you insert on the inside of the car window, and let the clear plastic drape over your leather on the inside. Now you should be able to roll down the window a few inches for ventilation, and any rain entering will hit the plastic and run over the plastic onto the floor of your car.


Get some of the sunscreen material from an auto parts shop that has lots of small holes punched in it. Cut it into strips that will fit over the gap from the inside roof to the top of the window. You will have to attach it to the roof (inside) and the window (also inside), forming a channel where most of the rain will fall. Run the lower end of the channel into a container to collect the rain. Dump it as needed.

This method will not absolutely prevent rain from entering the vehicle, but will reduce it enough to prevent most of the issues you are having.


While not smoking in the car is the best solution, we need to recognize that many/ most smokers are addicts and find it very difficult to pass a long drive without a smoke.

The simplest way to keep rain out with a window open, regardless of the reason for opening the window, is to open the window just a small amount (a centimeter is about right), and run the ventilation fan on flow-through at a high setting. The airflow outward will modify flow outside the window to keep all but the most direct splashes out of the window, and any foul odors generated inside the car will be exhausted as efficiently as possible.

Worth noting that you should still use the interior ash tray; it is illegal in every state in the USA to throw burning material from a car (which might include the coal from your cigarette, when flicking ashes out the window, and certainly would include a butt that hasn't been extinguished). In forested areas, the fine has long been as high as it can be without trespassing into felony levels, and if the act starts a wildfire it might well be charged as a felony. And if you're going to use the ash tray anyway, I don't see much to gain by keeping the window open, other than to blow ashes around the interior of the car, defeating any purpose of keeping the car from smelling like tobacco smoke.


Keep the window closed, and crank up the ventilation instead.


I keep a towel in my vehicle for this….I cover my window/door lock buttons with it to keep them dry and simply take it inside to launder it after use. I have rain guards as well, and they help keep most rain out, but I prefer the window down more than an inch or two.

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