Auto Installation 101: Attaching a New Weatherstrip Seal
Are your car’s doors starting to leak or rattle? Then it’s time to strip off the old weatherstrip seal and install a new one. This often-forgotten component is responsible for providing an air-tight seal while the doors are closed. Once this part wears out, the doors might feel a bit loose, and air and water can easily get inside the cabin. So once you experience these signs, get your hands on a new seal and attach it as soon as possible. Here’s how:
Required skill level: Novice
Tools you’ll need:
- Seal adhesive
- Weatherstripping remover
- Water hose or sandpaper
Inspecting the replacement weatherstrip seal
Before you start with the actual installation, it’s best to take a closer look at the new seal. Make sure it’s the same as the old one. The new one should have the same thickness, shape, and holes as the old seal.
Removing the old seal
Using a screwdriver, you might need to remove screws in order to remove the worn-out seal. Once the screws are removed, gently peel off the old weatherstrip. For hard-to-remove bits, spray them with some weatherstripping remover first. Then once the weatherstrip softens, peel it off again and see if all the bits are removed. You can use the screwdriver to gently pry off any remaining strips. For leftover adhesives, spray them with some weatherstripping remover. Wait for the glue bits to soften up. Then remove them with a screwdriver.
Prepping the new seal
Once you’ve removed every bit of the old seal and glue, place the new seal onto the frame. Check if the new seal fits perfectly around the frame’s contour. Then remove it. Before attaching it, clean it with sandpaper or rinse it with water. This is to make sure that the new weatherstrip doesn’t contain any contaminants or rough spots.
Installing the new weatherstrip
Sparingly apply adhesive on the new weatherstrip’s back side. Then attach it onto the frame before the glue dries up. Make sure that the new seal snugly fits every nook and cranny of the frame. Then re-install any screws you’ve previously removed.
Weatherstrip Seal Buyer's Guide
- Weatherstrip seals fill in the gaps and edges around static and moving parts of your vehicle.
- They are installed around the car doors, windows, beltline, cowl, vent post, truck bedside, division post glass, pillar post, inner & outer header, roof rail, sunroof, and rear compartment.
- Weatherstripping can be installed using built-in clips, automotive adhesive, or by simply pressing it on.
- These seals keep water, wind, insects, and debris from entering your vehicle.
- They also help the heating and air conditioning system maintain the temperature inside the vehicle cabin by keeping air from escaping.
- The seals around the windows and doors also provide sound insulation.
- There are two types of weatherstripping used in automotive applications: static and dynamic seals.
- Static seals are used on gaps and surfaces that don’t move (windshield, rear window, and roof rail seals).
- Dynamic seals are used around parts that move or open/close (doors, car door windows, and rear compartment).
- Problems caused by worn out and damaged weatherstrip seals are easy to catch because they come with easily observable symptoms.
- Check for visible cracks and chips, light and air passing through the gaps, roaring noises at high speeds, and water stains in your interiors or rear compartment.
- The cost of these seals will vary depending on whether you choose a vehicle-specific set or opt for universal automotive weatherstripping. You may purchase these individually, in sets of two to six, or as part of a kit. You can expect to spend anywhere between $6 to $281.
- No matter how small a leak is, be sure to replace damaged weatherstripping to prevent mold and water damage to your vehicle.
What happens inside the vehicle cabin is as important as what happens under the hood. Auto manufacturers put a lot of time and effort into designing interiors that will help you and your passengers enjoy your time on the road. Part of this process involves making sure that the cabin is a sealed and controlled environment. This is possible thanks to weatherstrip seals.
What is a weatherstrip seal?
Weatherstrip seals fill in the gaps and edges around static and moving parts of your vehicle. They keep water and debris from entering your vehicle, as well as prevent hard metal surfaces from scratching against each other.
Weatherstripping is installed around the car doors, windows, beltline, cowl, vent post, truck bedside, division post glass, pillar post, inner & outer header, roof rail, sunroof, and rear compartment. These strips are typically made of rubber or silicone.
How does a weatherstrip seal work?
Similar to how weatherstripping is used in homes, these create a tight seal around the gaps in your car. Some seals are installed using clips that let you snap them onto your vehicle. Others require the use of automotive weatherstripping adhesive to glue it in place. There are also press-on strips that are made of a stiff material that allows them to fit over the flange on their own.
Weatherstrip seals do more than just prevent water, wind, insects, and debris from entering your vehicle. Weatherstripping a car door also keeps air from inside your vehicle from leaking out. This makes it easy for your heating and air conditioning system to maintain the temperature inside the cabin. At the same time, they provide sound insulation inside the cabin so you don’t hear any unwanted noises from outside, especially during acceleration.
What are the different types of window and car door seal weatherstripping?
There are two types of weatherstripping used in automotive applications: static and dynamic seals.
This type of weatherstripping is used on gaps and surfaces which remain static such as your windshield, rear window, and roof rail seals.
These seals are used on one or more surfaces where movement is expected. These include weatherstrip seals used on your vehicle doors, car door windows, and trunk lid.
What are the signs that your weatherstrip seals need to be replaced?
Problems caused by worn out and damaged weatherstrip seals are easy to catch because they come with easily observable symptoms. Here’s what you need to watch out for:
Visible cracks and chips on the strip
Weatherstrip seals are mostly located around parts of your vehicle that are easy to inspect on your own. Rubber seals may become brittle, develop cracks, and fall apart due to changes in temperature.
Light and air passing through the gaps
Inspect any gaps where both light rays and air are streaming in. Weatherstripping around moving parts like your car doors, windows, and trunk can wear out or fall apart over time. If light, wind, or smoke can enter even if your doors and windows are shut, it may be time to get your seals replaced.
Roaring noises at high speeds
Weatherstrip seals provide sound insulation that muffles any loud sounds on the road. Listen for any hissing noises during high acceleration which can be caused by air pushing through the gaps caused by damaged weatherstripping.
Water leaks inside the vehicle cabin or rear compartment
If rain still gets inside your car even if all doors and windows are closed, then it’s time to consider getting new weatherstrip seals. You should do this no matter how tiny the leak is to prevent mold from growing on your carpet and other parts of your interiors. At the same time, you can protect metal assemblies inside your doors, windows, and rear compartment from water and rust damage.
How much is a weatherstrip seal?
The cost of these seals will vary depending on whether you choose a vehicle-specific set or opt for universal automotive weatherstripping. You may purchase these individually, in sets of two to six, or as part of a kit. You can expect to spend anywhere between $6 to $281.
Finding the right fit
CarParts.com can help you find the right weatherstrip seals for your vehicle in no time. We carry a wide selection of high-quality glass, door, trunk, and roof weatherstripping for your needs. Use our website’s built-in vehicle selector and plug in the year, make, and model of your vehicle to narrow down your search to all compatible parts.
Battle of the Weatherstrip Seal Brands: Fairchild Industries vs. Metro Moulded
Two established weatherstrip seal brands, Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded, both claim to provide maximum sealing capabilities with their weatherstripping products. To see which brand deserves the top spot, we’ve tested their weatherstrip seals on our Ford F-150. Here’s what we have to say:
Construction and material
Upon closer inspection, both Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded provided seals that are sturdily constructed using high-grade rubber. We noticed that Metro Moulded’s product is softer yet highly durable, but when we attached both stripping seals, both products provided an airtight seal.
WINNER: Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded
Ease of installation
Installing the product from Fairchild Industries was a breeze. Because it was constructed to match OE specs, it fit perfectly and didn’t require any special tools to install. Same goes for the Metro Moulded seal. This product was also made to match our F-150’s specs to a T, making installation an easy task.
WINNER: Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded
Both brands offer products that are sunlight-, ozone-, and water-resistant, making Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded ideal options when looking for a highly resilient replacement for a worn-out seal.
WINNER: Fairchild Industries and Metro Moulded
The price range for Fairchild Industries weatherstripping products is from $15 to $97, while the range for Metro Moulded items is $8 to $37. Because Metro Moulded offers a lower price range, this brand is a good bet for consumers looking for more budget-friendly options.
WINNER: Metro Moulded
Fairchild Industries backs it weatherstripping seal with a limited warranty, while Metro Moulded offers a 15-year limited warranty. In this round, the winner is the brand with the longest and clearly detailed warranty plan.
WINNER: Metro Moulded
In this battle of the weatherstrip seals, the clear victor is Metro Moulded. Both brands are highly durable, easy to install, and provide nifty extra features, but Metro Moulded snagged the top spot because it provides a lower price range and a longer and clearly detailed warranty package. So if you’re looking for a replacement weatherstripping seal for your ride, you’re sure to get the most out of your budget with a Metro Moulded product.
Getting Your Windshield's Right Weatherstrip Seal
Your car's windshield is built in such a way that it allows you to drive through rainy days and harsh weather elements without worrying about rain getting into your car. That's why it comes with a weatherstrip seal, a part that keeps rain and other tiny debris outside your vehicle . If you need a new one, keep in mind that basic knowledge of the different types of weatherstripping is necessary in choosing a weatherstrip seal that fits your car.
Classifying windshield weatherstrip seals
Weatherstrippings, or weather strip seals, can be classified into two different categories: one based on grooves and the other based on the material. Below is a brief description of the two and how each type is an advantage or a disadvantage to your vehicle.
- Based on groove - A "channel" or a groove is present in all windshield weatherstrippings. It allows the seals to fit firmly between the windshield glass and the windshield frame. Two types of windshield weatherstripping are available in the market. The first type is the universal windshield weatherstrip seal. It is one long piece of rubber seal that you need to cut to fit your windshield. The second type is the custom windshield weatherstrip seal. It is a closed loop of rubber seal that's pre-measured to fit your particular car model. If you want easier installation, go for a customized seal.
- Based on material - Windshield weatherstrip seals are also identified based on the material they're made of. Some windshield weatherstrip seals contain rubber and certain fibers to provide flexibility and maintain shape. In higher-quality weatherstrip seals, there's also a coating which further protects the seals from UV rays. The acronyms EDPM, TPE, or TPO are usually displayed in product info labels, pertaining to the main rubber blends used. If you live in a sunny place, seals with UV protection are your best bet.
Other things to consider when buying weatherstrip seals
Though your weatherstrip seal type choices are limited to two, it is still important to take certain factors into consideration. These factors include your car model and year, and the type of weatherstripping suited for windshields. Remember that weatherstrip seals for car doors and windows might not fit the windshield. Attaching the wrong type of seal can lead to leaks, drafts, rattling, and loosening of the windshield glass. Given that windshield replacement digs a large hole in your pocket, make sure that you only get weatherstrip seals designed for windshields.
Replacing Your Vehicle's Weatherstrip Seal
Your car survives rain and other weather conditions because of a part called the weatherstrip seal. From the name itself, it prevents weather elements from entering your vehicle. Over time, your car's weatherstrip seal will eventually crack or get damaged. Replacing weatherstrip seals is an easy task for beginners and experts alike. With a few simple tools and a bit of patience, you can finish the repair in no time.
Get started with these simple yet concise instructions:
Difficulty level: Easy
Tools to be used:
- Glass cleaner
- Clean piece of cloth or paper towel
- Weatherstripping removal tool
- Weatherstripping adhesive
- Plastic putty knife
- Tape measure
- New weatherstrip seal
Step 1: Start with removing your windshield's old weatherstrip seal. Clean the windshield with a glass cleaner. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off dirt and debris.
Step 2: Raise each wiper arm away from the windshield until it locks in a vertical position. Use a wrench to remove the wiper blade nuts and washers. Set the wiper arms side.
Step 3: Wedge the tip of the weatherstripping removal tool between the windshield and the trim. Work the tool around the entire perimeter of the windshield.
Step 4: Put the new weatherstrip seal by pressing it over the edge of the windshield. Use your thumb to push it down and secure it into place. Align or realign the new weatherstrip seal using the weatherstripping removal tool.
Step 5: Next, proceed to your car doors and windows. Open the doors and roll down the windows. Remove the old weatherstrip seals with a weatherstripping removal tool. Begin with one corner and work around the perimeter of the door.
Step 6: Do the same with the other doors and windows. Get rid of the remaining weatherstrip seal with a plastic putty knife. Clean the bare door and window edges with soap and cloth. Scrub the edges if there's old adhesive left.
Step 7: Take a measuring tape and determine your door and window sizes. Use a utility knife and cut the weatherstrip seal to fit around your doors and windows.
Step 8: Put beads of weatherstrip adhesive around the entire perimeter of the first window you decide to work on. Again, use your thumb to press the weatherstrip seal firmly on the adhesive. Repeat the same procedure to the remaining doors and windows.