Replacing a Cracked Windshield

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated March 29, 2012)

When driving around, it is a rather simple fact of life that cracks happen. When faced with this problem, you basically have two choices: repairing or replacing. Repairing a cracked windshield is fine for smaller cracks, but won't work all that well for the larger ones. Good thing that replacing a cracked windshield, while a little exacting, isn't all that difficult. That is, it's not that difficult if you follow these instructions.

Items needed:

  • A friend
  • Metric ruler
  • Replacement windshield
  • Replacement molding and trim
  • Windshield molding removal tool
  • Automotive cutting knife
  • Flat tip screwdriver
  • Cleaning brush
  • Bucket
  • Clean rags
  • Razor blade
  • Urethane primer
  • Urethane
  • Caulking gun (electric of possible)
  • Nitrile gloves

Procedure:

  1. Find a good spot to work. Where you work can often be as important as what you are doing when working on things like automobiles. If at all possible, you need to do your repair work in a well lit, well ventilated garage, but not outside. If you have to work outside, create some kind of a wind break around the vehicle to protect it from the wind.
  2. Remove the trim. Using your windshield molding removal tool, begin removing the windshield trim molding. This is done by inserting the tool under the molding, and then prying it up. It may take a little while, so don't hurry and accidentally damage anything.
  3. Remove the molding. Take your automotive cutting knife, and begin removing the urethane molding. These knives are specially designed to cut through the urethane molding that helps hold in a windshield, so use caution as you could accidentally get cut or hurt when you are doing that. On the plus side, these knives are fairly common and can be found at your local automotive parts store.
  4. Pull out the windshield. Once you have removed both types of molding, you should be able to pull out the old windshield. Make sure that you have a friend help you out with this part, since it could be very easy to drop the glass and create a huge mess or get hurt. Carefully place the glass somewhere off to the side for later disposal.
  5. Clean the opening. With the glass removed, you can begin cleaning out the opening. Primarily what you are looking to do is remove the old urethane residue, as well as the pinch weld area (which is the recess that runs around the opening of the frame). You may need to do a bit of trimming with a razor blade to get the molding to about three millimeters, but most of the cleaning can be done with a simple brush and water.
  6. Fit the new molding. Take the new rubber molding, and begin fitting it around the edge of your new windshield. Once you have done that, fit the outer trim into the grooves of the rubber molding.
  7. Apply some primer. Apply the urethane primer to the black strip that runs around the edge of the windshield. This edge is also called the frit band, and when you apply the urethane primer to this it is creating a reaction of some kind within the pores that will allow it to stick to the urethane.
  8. Apply the urethane. Using a caulking gun, apply a bead of urethane to the frame of the windshield. The area that you want to apply the bead to is the pinch weld area, so don't go and put too much on.
  9. Place the windshield. With the help of a friend place the windshield into the frame of the car. As you are doing this, make sure that you align everything (i.e., the top, bottom, and sides) carefully to avoid having a crooked windshield. Carefully press down on the windshield for a while to help hold it in place.
  10. Clean up. After the windshield has been placed into the car, it's time to clean up. Pick up all of the items and tools that you have used, and begin putting them away. Carefully dispose of the old windshield properly, paying particular attention to any pertinent laws in your city. Allow at least an hour or two before driving your vehicle anywhere.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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