Classic Car Windshield Trim Removal

by John Stevens J.D.

Although rarely used today, windshield trim or "molding" was once a common accessory for automobiles. Windshield trim is usually though of as an added aesthetic feature due to its chrome finish, but the true purpose of the trim is to conceal the seam between the body of the vehicle and the windshield, where weatherstripping sealer was often haphazardly applied at the factory. Windshield trim is made of thin metal, making it susceptible to damage. Replacement trim is readily available and installation is fairly simple, but removing the existing trim can be a bit of a challenge.

How the Trim Attaches to the Windshield

Before removing the windshield trim, it is important to understand how the trim attaches to the windshield’s frame, meaning the portion of the vehicle that the windshield rests against. Surrounding the lip of the frame are a number of clips. These clips, not the windshield, are what holds the trim against the edges of the windshield. Before the windshield is installed, each clip is attached to a small metal pole. The windshield’s weatherstripping is then covered in sealer and the windshield is lowered into place. Unless the weatherstripping is severely cracked, the clips cannot be removed with the windshield in place. Fortunately, the trim can be removed without removing the clips. At the base of each piece of windshield trim is a short lip. Each trim clip slides into this lip. Removing the windshield trim therefore requires the trim to be removed from each clip.

Removing the Trim

Although the windshield trim may, upon first glance, appear to be a single piece, the trim actually consists of several pieces. The trim at the base of the windshield usually consists of two pieces, while the trim on each side of the windshield and the trim along the top of the windshield are single pieces. The bottom trim is always installed first, followed by the side trim, and finally the top trim piece. Removal must follow the opposite sequence. In other words, remove the top piece first, followed by the two side pieces and finally the lower trim piece(s). To disconnect each trim piece from its clips, a windshield trim removal tool is necessary. The tip of the tool is shaped into a hook. The hook must be inserted from the windshield-side of the trim between the trim and the weatherstripping. Slowly push the hook along the bottom of the trim until the hook stops, which means that it has reached a trim clip. The bottom of the hook must be placed underneath the bottom of the trim clip, which may take a few attempts. Once positioned, pull the removal tool upwards. The hooked-tip of the tool will lift the bottom of the trim clip away from the trim, thereby disconnecting the clip from the trim. Once each clip has been disconnected, the trim can be pulled away from the windshield.


About the Author

John Stevens has been a writer for various websites since 2008. He holds an Associate of Science in administration of justice from Riverside Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from California State University, San Bernardino, and a Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School. Stevens is a lawyer and licensed real-estate broker.

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