Keeping The Elements Out

By Mikaela Conley

February 22, 2013 4 min read

There is a whistling that is getting in the way of your listening to your favorite radio station while cruising down the freeway, and you can't figure out what it is. Follow the sound and you'll probably be led to one of your doors or windows. Most likely, your car's weatherstripping needs to be repaired.

Weatherstripping, or the seal meant to keep precipitation and the elements out and the air conditioning and heat in, is found between the doors and windows of a car. Much like the cartilage in the body's joints, the weatherstripping protects the car's frame from the inevitable wear and tear that would come with the opening and closing of doors and windows. As a car's years go by, that weatherstripping needs to be repaired from time to time.

Weatherstripping in cars first appeared in the 1930s as a piece of woven fabric connected with screws to the body of the vehicle. Modern weatherstripping is made of a spongelike interior with a rubber coating.

Replacing the weatherstripping not only keeps up the appearance of your car but also keeps your interior dry and comfortable.

A whistling sound while you're driving is usually the best indicator that the weatherstripping has deteriorated. If you can feel rain or air coming through the car when the windows and doors are closed, that is also an indicator that the weatherstripping is cracked or needs to be repaired.

According to AutoMD, the tools you'll need to replace the stripping are interior strip tools, a hose and water and a flashlight. It is recommended that you wear safety glasses, latex gloves and closed-toe shoes while working on the car.

First, you must find the leak by finding the area of the window or door where the weatherstripping has eroded. If you can hear the whistling while driving, follow the sound. A tip: In a dark area, have a friend shine a flashlight around the doors and windows while you sit in the car. If you can see the light shining through to the inside, that is where the leak needs to be sealed.

Older cars tend to have stripping that has been glued onto the doorframe. If there are screws holding the rubber in place, carefully remove them, and then pull the stripping away from the frame with your hands or pliers. Be careful not to scratch the paint or metal, and be sure to clean the area of any excess adhesive or rubber.

Both factory and generic weatherstrippings are available at your local auto body shop or major retailer. According to Popular Mechanics, generic weatherstripping can be "sketchy and is best suited for a very old car or junker you won't be keeping long."

Factory replacement stripping, meaning the stripping that is made by your car's manufacturer, is also available and recommended for any vehicle that you plan on having for a long period of time.

Be sure that the new stripping is the same thickness and shape as the old lining. The same holes and ridges should also align. Clean the new stripping by sanding down bumps and ridges, and be sure to rinse and thoroughly dry it.

When replacing the door with the new weatherstripping, apply firm pressure in the middle of the seal and work your way out. Don't let the glue sit for more than 30 seconds before applying the stripping, or it will not stick properly.

Apply a stream of water to the top of the door on the outside to be sure the weatherstripping has been sealed properly. If water does not enter the car, hurray! You have properly installed your new weatherstripping. If water does come through the car, remove the weatherstripping and start over.

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