Replace Your Own Windshield in Seven Steps

You were driving down the road and – oh no! – you heard it. Crack. A stray pebble got kicked up by the car in front of you and it put a neat little crack in your windshield.

So what do you do? Obviously, it needs to be fixed, since it’s a huge safety hazard and you could get into a lot of trouble with the authorities if you’re caught driving around with a cracked windshield. You can take it to a dealership or an auto body repair shop; sometimes though the cost is astronomical and you are tight on cash this month. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys doing home auto repair, though, then replacing the windshield on your own might be the way to go.

cracked windshield

Supplies You Will Need:

A new windshield, a painter’s knife and sealer (available at auto parts stores or online), a scraper blade, suction cups, a gasket sealer and a rubber hammer. And if you can, get a friend to come over and give you a hand.

Step 1: Purchase a Replacement Windshield

If you check online, there are sites that sell replacement windshields. Be wary and skeptical before forking over your credit card number it might be the wisest option to just call. That will also be helpful when it comes to price, because if you have a live human being on the phone, there’s a good chance you can haggle on the cost. If you do not like any of the prices online, another option is to try to find a second-hand windshield. While not as commonplace as side windows, there are still whole windshields out there, if you know where to look. Try salvage yards first. If that yields nothing, try looking around on Craigslist in the auto parts section (or post your own ad saying that you’re looking for one – it’s free and easy).

Step 2: Remove Windshield Wipers

It might seem obvious, but nonetheless, remove the windshield wiper assembly on the car before you go for the glass. Make sure you remove the trim and then unscrew the bolts which attach the wiper to the car.

Step 3: Remove Molding

With your painter’s knife, carefully remove the molding that surrounds the windshield. Take care not to damage it, as you will be reusing it later.

Step 4: Remove Gasket and Existing Adhesive

At this point, it’s important to note that your new windshield should be set up on a pair of carpet-covered saw horses. It’s also important to put a padded barrier between the glass and the wood so that the glass isn’t scratched and the wood isn’t messed up by the sealer that will go on later.

The rubber gasket needs to be peeled off the channel and set aside. You can start removing the existing adhesive now, taking care to do a thorough job with a scraper blade. The key is to make sure you get all of it, as any remaining old adhesive will prevent the new from being properly installed. Also, check both the exterior and the interior for the old adhesive.

Step 5: Remove Old Windshield

Now the really fun part: it’s going to be heavy, but you’re either a big tough guy or lady or you nabbed a friend to help, right? Use the suction cups to lift off the old windshield and set it aside. With any luck, it will stay in one piece while you do this.

Step 6: Prepare the New Windshield

Clean the new windshield so that it’s smudge free (around the edges especially). At this point it’s a good idea to reapply the gasket, working it around the perimeter of the windshield. Apply gasket sealer by pulling back the edge of the gasket and brushing it on so that it’s between the gasket and the windshield. Don’t miss any spots and don’t fuss that it’s messy. The central thing is that you create a good seal.

Step 7: Reinstall New Windshield and Molding

Now you can use those suction cups on the new windshield and carefully lift it into place. Lay it on the frame, pressing with even pressure. If necessary, use the rubber hammer to “seat it.” Then you can reinstall the molding, by setting it in place and pushing it down. That rubber hammer might come in handy again, too, right about now.

That should do it! It’s always a good idea to check for leaks when you’re done, too.


See Also — Where Can I Find My Cars Paint Code?

“Cracked Windshield” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Author: Al Morgan
Al Morgan has done all his own car repairs since he was old enough to drive. He sometimes uses a website to locate car parts and thinks it’s a pretty convenient option for anyone.

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