Step-by-Step Windshield Replacement

by Jerry Garner

Windshields need to be replaced sometimes. As unfortunate as it may be, it is an unavoidable part of car ownership. Repairing or replacing a windshield is always costly. Not only is there the cost of the glass itself, but labor costs are often excessive. Even retrieving a used windshield from a salvage yard is expensive when you factor in the labor costs. Fortunately, changing a windshield is a very simple process that you can choose to do on your own. This will not only save you money, but give you the satisfaction of completing the job yourself.

Initial Preparation

Remove any items that can be salvaged from the windshield. If you wish to reuse the same mirror or windshield wipers on the new windshield, you will need to carefully pry them off with a flat screwdriver. You should also cover all defroster vents on the top of the dash. Cover them with masking tape to prevent any glass particles from falling inside when the windshield is removed. If glass finds it's way into the defroster it could blow out into the car whenever any air is used, so it is important to take precautions to keep this from happening.

Windshield Removal

Inspect the rubber gasket around the border of the windshield. If it is in good condition and can be reused, use caution when peeling it up. If it can be peeled off in one piece it can be used on the replacement windshield. If the gasket has become rigid or has developed cracks, it should be replaced. In this case you can save time by using a utility knife to simply put through the gasket. Attach suction handles to the outside of the windshield to lift it out of the car. If no suction handles are available, push the windshield out from the inside of the car, having a friend on the outside to grab it and lift it out. Use thick, cut resistant gloves when handling the glass. Wrap the old windshield in a storage blanket and set it aside to be recycled later.

Cleaning and Windshield Prep

Use a shop vac to clean away any glass fragments or loose debris. Carefully cut away any pieces of gasket material using a single edge razor blade. Also inspect the metal where the old windshield rested. Look for any patches of rust. These need to be sanded down to bare metal and then painted with a primer to prevent the rust from returning. Clean any old adhesive from the edge of the windshield by scraping it with a razor blade. When the glass is clean, use a cloth to rub windshield primer over the edges. The primer opens the molecules in the frit band of the glass, allowing the gasket to form an airtight and watertight seal with the glass. Note that some brands refer to the windshield primer as "frit band activator".

Install the New Windshield

Apply urethane adhesive to the edge of the glass and to the windshield gasket. Adhere the gasket to the windshield and then carefully press the windshield into place on the car. Use a damp cloth to remove any adhesive that may have squeezed out onto the body of the car. Allow the adhesive to dry according to the instructions provided by the specific brand that you chose to use. When the adhesive has dried and the window is firmly in place, replace the windshield wipers and the rear view mirror. Also remove the masking tape from the defrost vents and give the area a final cleaning with a damp cloth.

About the Author

Jerry Garner has been writing semi-professionally for more than 15 years. The body of Garner's work includes informative articles, news and current events and historical essays. He is an avid sports fan and frequently writes about outdoor activities online.

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