Do it Yourself Automotive Glass Replacement

by Wesley Tucker

Replacing automobile glass is not a complicated procedure, but it can take a little unexpected muscle. When removing and installing glass panels, be sure to account for the weight and cumbersome nature of each piece. After all, it is glass and one slip and it's off to the auto supply dealer to get a new piece. Also, replace glass panels with glass specifically cut and shaped for your car. There is no safe and accurate way to cut glass down to size or make it larger to fill the gap.


Replacing door windows means taking the door apart to access the lift mechanism. This work is done best with the window about half way up; too low and you have to lift the glass out and put new glass in the entire depth of the door. All the way up and the fasteners may be inaccessible behind the door frame. Disassemble the door by removing all the exterior screws attaching the door panel. There are screws underneath the armrest and around the exterior door edge. If your car has manual windows, remove the window crank handle. The door panel will also have a variety of clips attaching the panel to the door frame. Unfasten them all, but do not force the door panel. If there is any resistance, check for hidden fasteners. Once the door panel is off the assembly attaching the window to the lift mechanism is visible. Remove all the fasteners from the attachment bracket and lift the window out of the car. If the glass is curved, follow the curve while lifting. If necessary, transfer the bracket to the new glass. Glass door windows for some cars have the bracket attached. Lower the glass into the door and attach to the lift mechanism. Reassemble the door following the reverse steps you used for assembly.


Replacing the windshield means first removing the weather stripping around the edge. If the rear view mirror is attached you can disconnect it before removing the window. A special tool (available at auto supply stores) is used to pry the stripping from its groove. Once the weather stripping is removed the glass will lift out. Remember, though, it is a very heavy piece. Installing the new glass means positioning it in place and then inserting the weather stripping into its sealing groove. Just like with the car door, if your vehicle has a bracket for the rearview mirror, the replacement glass from the factory will have the bracket already attached.

Side Windows

Windows around cargo areas of SUVs of the back window of sedans are removed and installed with a procedure identical to the windshield. Just be careful with side cargo area window -- there is no hood or trunk to rest the panel when it is unfastened from the car. If necessary, get a second or maybe third set of hands to avoid a large piece of glass hitting the ground!

About the Author

Wesley Tucker is a lifelong southerner whose politics are objective, whose sports are many and whose avocations range from aviation to anthropology to history and all forms of media. With a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, Tucker has been a writer for more than 30 years, with work ranging from news reports to feature stories.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Luxury Car sportscar from my luxury car series image by alma_sacra from