What is car weather stripping?

Automotive weather stripping is the rubber material that forms a seal around your vehicle's doors, windows, trunk lid, windshield, and other areas, such as the roof rails. Depending on the location, the seal might have an O or U shape. Window sweep seals, called beltlines, have a felt-like edge to help keep out debris. Black rubber windshield trim, known as molding, varies by vehicle.

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When should you replace weather stripping around car window?

Issues from car weather stripping wear are often due to age or exposure to conditions like extreme heat and harsh sunlight. If you notice the material is brittle, loose, compressed, torn, or frayed, it's probably due for repair or replacement.

Popular Mechanics notes that failing weather stripping allows water to seep into your car, which, if left unattended, may cause damage. Signs of failing weather stripping could include wetness on the carpet, on the upholstery, around the trunk, or water entering through a window when everything is shut. Another indicator could be a loud wind noise that occurs while you're driving with all the windows rolled up.

Effective seals help keep the cabin interior comfortable when you're running heat or air conditioning. According to Advance Auto Parts, if you find yourself cranking the temperature up or down abnormally, and you've ruled out problems specific to the heating, ventilation, and AC system, a weather stripping issue could be the cause.

How to tell if your car weather stripping needs repair

Before performing a replacement, you'll need to determine exactly where the weather stripping is failing. This could mean doing some investigating because water can travel along the seal far from the actual leak. Automotive experts recommend listening for louder wind noise while driving to narrow it down. Once you're parked, examine the weather stripping for wear and tear.

You can also identify a leaking spot by rolling up all the windows, closing the doors and trunk, and spraying a hose on the area. Observe where the water begins to drip or pool.

Different parts of the car have specific types of specially-designed weather stripping. Unlike car doors, windows, and trunks, each windshield has trim around the edge called molding. Your car could have molding that's attached to the car body. For repairing or replacing the weather stripping around the windshield, you may need to consult an auto glass company.

How to replace weather stripping around the windshield

Replacements come in one of two types: factory and generic, also called aftermarket. Factory replacements from the automaker tend to be more expensive but may have a better fit. Many auto parts retailers sell both kinds, although a dealership is more likely to have the factory version. Consult with an auto mechanic and check that the new weather stripping matches the size and shape of the old seal before removing anything.

Some seals are kept in place with clips, others with press-on strips or adhesive. To replace window, trunk, or car door weather stripping that's been glued on:

  • Use a screwdriver to remove any screws keeping the old piece in place
  • Pull the old piece free
  • Wearing gloves, remove any old adhesive residue with a solvent such as brake cleaner
  • Dry the area with a towel
  • Apply a thin bead of new adhesive
  • Press the new weather stripping in place firmly
  • Replace any screws that were removed
  • Allow the adhesive to dry according to the directions
  • Apply a coat of silicone-based spray to the new weather stripping

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