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We got a lot of rain this winter, followed by a lot of sun and heat, so in this article I am going to tell you how to replace your windshield seal (works on any stationary seal).
First, we need to get the old one out. It’s better to cut the old one out than to try and push it out. You’ll need a sharp knife with a fixed or locking blade. Standing outside of the car, push the tip of the knife between the glass and the rubber. Now press down slightly and slide the knife, cutting the rubber. At some point, you will feel the tip hit metal. Hey, you’re through the seal. Do that all the way around the glass. Then peel off the outer part of the seal. On seals that are hard as a rock this takes some effort. When this is done, we should be looking at the glass still stuck to the inner part of the seal. In most cases, you can gently push on the glass from the inside and have your buddy Al catch the glass. If it’s not easy to push you might have to use your knife on the inside as well. Main thing here is don’t want to break the glass. Once it’s out, peel the rest of the old seal out. Now clean up the area the seal sits in. Do any rust repair that you deem necessary.
Next, prep the window to go back in. Use some glass cleaner and get it clean. I don’t get carried away here because I will be putting lots of fingerprints on it when I get around to installing it. Just make sure the edge is clean. Do not use dish soap on the front window. You can on any other window but not the front. The reason is the front is what is called a laminate window. In other words, it has a piece of plastic between two pieces of glass. If you use dish soap it will delaminate the glass and in about a month you will get these weird looking flowers sprouting from the edges of your window. Ok, back to prep. Grab your window and have a seat. I put the top edge away from me. Now have your new window seal handy. Find the seam where the seal was glued together. I put that on the top, some people put that on the bottom- It doesn’t really matter, I just think it looks better on the top. Find the groove that the glass sits in. Center the seam with the center of the windshield. Make sure you have the outside of the rubber facing out. It really sucks to get the rubber on just to find out you have it on inside out. Open the groove as best you can and push it onto the glass. Make sure you get the glass bottomed out in the groove on the seal. I go a foot or so one way then a foot or so the other. Then get the sides on. At this point, flip the glass over in your lap and work on the bottom. Do not use any type of slippery stuff here as we want the rubber to stay put on the glass once we push it into the groove. If your fingers hurt you’re doing it right. Now the fun part. If you have an American style seal that takes the molding or trim you’re in for a treat, they are a pain in the ass, and now is the time to do it. If you’re not and have a Cal look seal that doesn’t take the molding you can skip the next few sentences.
I lay my windshield on a pair of sawhorses with a blanket between the sawhorse and the glass. Lay your molding out on the rubber. Gently open the groove it goes in and start stuffing the molding in. A hook tool helps here. Once you’re done cussing at it and it’s in, there are clips that have to be installed that join the molding together. I slide it over one side of the molding and leave it there until the window is installed. Take a break, you earned it.
The last part of the prep. Find a 12-gauge wire or a rope longer than the circumference of the window. Find the center of the bottom of the window and the groove that lips over the metal of the window opening. Now leave a foot or so of wire sticking out and start working the wire into the groove. There is a tool for inserting a rope into this groove, a handle with a hollow tube. The rope goes through the tube and out the handle. If you don’t have the tool that’s fine it just takes a little more work. Lay your wire in that groove until it’s all the way around and overlaps a few inches on the bottom. It’s ready to put back into the car.
The figure below helps to demonstrate what we mean when we say that pulling your rope or your wire should guide the seal in.
If the car is ready, rub some dish soap on the opening from the lip out. If you have headliner on part of the opening skip the dish soap here as it will loosen up the glue. The dish soap helps the rubber slide around as we install the window. Place the glass into the opening with your wire ends into the car. Center the window. Make sure the rubber is up against the metal lip. It’s time to pull it in. Have Al on the outside. Tell him to keep one hand on the top of the windshield and keep it there till the last foot of pulling it in. This prevents the whole thing from sliding up and out. With his other hand have him follow you around as you pull the wire, applying just enough pressure to the area to keep the rubber against the lip. No more than that. You’re on the inside of the car. Take one end of the wire and pull towards the center of the windshield. This will pull the rubber lip up and over the metal lip. Go about six inches one way then six inches the other. Al with his one hand should be following you. When you get to the top and about the last foot have him back off on the pressure as you are flexing the glass a little here. Once you have it pulled in, look at the inner lip. Is it all the way down? If yes you’re golden. If not don’t sweat it just yet. Go outside the car and make sure your outer tip on the rubber is not rolled. If it is, take a small pocket screwdriver and unroll it. Be careful here because it’s easy to scratch the paint. Once the lip is rolled out look again on the inside. Are we good? If yes, you’re done. If not, then use the palm of your hand and hit the rubber seal where it’s not all the way down on the inside. You should see the window suck in. Once in, you’re done. The first one is a learning experience, but once you do the second one it’s not bad at all. Those of you with bay window busses make damn sure the window is centered and have extra buddies to help.
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