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How to Replace Your Automobile Windshield
24.02.2016 11:16

We often take our windshield for granted. It seems to always be there when we are driving, and for the most part doesn't cause any trouble. It is, however, very important that your windshield be in good repair. If it does need replaced, it has to be done correctly to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers.

Removing the Old Windshield

Remove any plastic moldings from around the windshield. Take care to remove any clips holding the molding in place properly. These clips release many different ways (i.e. pull straight out, remove the middle first, push in from either side, etc.) but damaging them will mean that they have to be replaced. They can range from very cheap, to relatively expensive, and some of them are hard to find.

Analyze the best angle to separate the windshield from the pinch-weld. The pinch-weld is where different metal components of the car come together in the front. They are welded together around the front of the car, forming a frame for the windshield.In order to remove the windshield you must cut it away from the pinch-weld. This can be done from inside or outside the vehicle with a cold knife or razor.

Cut the urethane. The urethane is a very strong, but flexible, polymer based adhesive. It holds the glass to the pinch-weld, but allows enough movement so that the glass does not crack from the stress placed on it when driving driving.
If you choose to cut from the outside you might have a problem when the windshield has been placed too close to the pinch-weld. If there is less than 1/8” of urethane then the knife will not have room to drag properly. This causes the glass to break and make a mess.
Cutting the windshield out from the inside of the vehicle is the other option. You can use an extended handle razor knife and cut with a repeated dragging motion. Many installers also use power cutters which are faster but do more damage to the metal pinch-weld.
 

Remove the windshield from the car. This should be done with two people. Open the front door on either side of the car and reach one arm in to gently push the glass away from the pinch-weld. Get a hold of the glass from the outside of the car and lift it straight up off of the pinch-weld.

 

Preparing the Pinch-weld

Trim off excess urethane. The pinch-weld usually has old urethane about ¼” thick more or less and it needs to be trimmed down to 3/16” or about 3 mm with a razor.

Remove any rust from the pinch-weld. Any rusty areas or areas with loose/damaged urethane will need to be sanded back to bare metal to remove all rust.

Prime any bare metal. This will help with adhesion of the urethane, but also is necessary to prevent the metal from rusting in the future.

Install the New Windshield

Apply a primer to the frit band. The purpose of the primer is to open the molecules of the frit band (the black band around the perimeter of the windshield) to accept the urethane molecules.

Apply the urethane with an electric caulking gun. The best thing for the new urethane to adhere to is the old urethane.
It must be clean and free from dirt, oil or other contaminants.
One problem installers have is wind blowing dust onto the pinch-weld before the urethane adhesive has been applied.
The job can be done without an electric gun but it is much more difficult to get a consistent bead, making leaks likely.
 

Install the windshield. Carefully align the top bottom and sides by sight.
Some vehicles have mounting block for the bottom of the windshield to rest on, others do not.
Be careful not to touch the frit band because the oils and dirt from your skin can contaminate the activated glass and reduce adhesion to the urethane.
 

Allow the urethane to set. Driving before the urethane has set completely is very dangerous. Depending on the type of urethane used, it will take between 1 and 24 hours to set. Follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding safe drive away times.

 

Warnings
The windshield is a crucial part of the crash safety system. Improper installation can lead to serious injury or death. If you are unsure about any part of the process you should consult a professional.
 

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