Have you ever bought something from the store that wouldn’t quite fit in your vehicle and left you wondering if you can drive your SUV with the hatch open? If so, you’re not alone!
There is no legal requirement for the hatch of an SUV to be closed while driving, however, the hatch must be secured so that it cannot freely open while the vehicle is in motion. This can be accomplished using bungee cords, ratchet straps, or a simple rope if needed.
While that is the quick answer to this question, there’s a lot more to consider when it comes to driving your SUV with the hatch open.
What is the Hatch?
On an SUV, a hatch is the equivalent of a tailgate for a truck.
Instead of having a door that folds down in the back of the vehicle, there is a door that opens outwards and makes it easier to open and close when you are adding or removing cargo.
This is always located on the rear end of the vehicle and offers better access to the trunk space when you need to pack your cargo for a trip. The space is limited, which means that larger items may require you to leave the hatch open a bit to allow enough room.
This door often opens upward, which allows you to lift it with one hand, and many come with a mechanism that lifts the hatch when the door is opened so that you don’t have to lift it yourself.
Some vehicles also come with automatic sensors that allow you to open the hatch without your hands now!
What Disadvantages Are There When Driving with the Hatch Open?
Before you take off thinking that everything’s rosy when it comes to driving with the hatch open, it’s worth taking a look at some of the disadvantages of this approach.
#1 Damaged Goods!
The most obvious disadvantage to driving with your hatch open is that something could fall out!
While you may have secured the hatch from opening further, the fact that you couldn’t close it fully means that there are gaps.
Hitting a large bump or driving up a steep incline could be enough to jostle your cargo’s contents out onto the road. This not only risks damaging the items but also puts other drivers in danger who are around you on the road.
#2 Bad Weather
You’ll also want to make sure that you check the weather before embarking on any open hatch outings.
Rain, snow, and even wind can make for a disappointing trip home when you’re driving exposed to the elements!
This is particularly important to consider if you’ll be making a long or multi-day trip as the likelihood of encountering poor weather increases as your trip gets longer.
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider the security of the items inside your car. Should you need to park it in a public area to run into another store, stay overnight, etc… your vehicle will open for access.
While we never want to assume the worst in others, it’s not a great idea to tempt fate by leaving your open vehicle unattended. You could very easily return to find things stolen or ruined.
This is yet another reason why an open hatch for multi-day trips typically isn’t your best bet. You’ll be better off finding some kind of enclosed trailer that can be fully close while safely storing your goods.
Advantages of Having the Hatch Open
Though there are some major disadvantages to driving with the hatch open, there are also a couple of big reasons why you might want to consider it.
Not needing to spend extra money renting a trailer or alternate vehicle for the job is probably the biggest benefit! While it’s clearly not your best bet for large loads, it’s a great option to leverage in a pinch for small tasks.
If you need to transport a large amount of cargo that will not fit without keeping the hatch open, then opting for renting a vehicle for the job is an option.
However, if you are not going very far, then this could feel like a waste of money to have to pay for the hourly rental amount and gas for another vehicle when you have one that could do it.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to drive a vehicle that you are not used to.
If you rent a truck or borrow one from a friend, you will be driving a larger vehicle than you normally drive, which could be a bit nerve-racking for some people.
It also spares you the time of needing to go pick up the rental, use it, and then return it once the job is done!
Things to Keep in Mind When Driving with an Open Hatch
If you do choose to drive with an open SUV hatch, you’ll want to take a few more additional precautionary steps before and during your trip.
First of all, make sure that you’ve done a good job securing your hatch closed. The last thing that you want is for it to whip open while you’re driving down the road!
While the goods inside your SUV could fall out and become damaged, the more worrisome point is that it could cause another driver to get into an accident. Not only do you not want to see someone else injured, but you could be held as at fault for the accident and required to pay for the damages.
Secondly, knowing that your vehicle will be partially open, it’s best to avoid the highway or other high-speed roads if possible. While side and back roads may take you longer to get home, it’s better to approach things in a safe and slower fashion.
Because these roads often have fewer drivers on them, you also reduce the risk of there being an accident if something were to escape from your vehicle. Of course, if you followed my first point this shouldn’t be a problem regardless 😉
The takeaway here is that driving an SUV with a hatch open can be done, and it can be done safely! However, you will want to take a look at these tips and guidelines to ensure that you are doing everything you need, to keep yourself and others safe.
If you expect this type of usage to become more frequent, then it may also be worth considering finding a more permanent solution. Even with the best planning and intentions, things can sometimes still go awry.
An alternate vehicle such as a larger SUV, or perhaps a truck may be a better investment.