How to replace the windshield of your car in 10 easy steps

Article by Christian A., on August 13, 2018

Windshields are a necessary part of a car. Aside from protecting the car’s occupant from the wind, oncoming road debris and natural elements, the windshield also plays a role in shaping its aerodynamics. A windshield isn't just made of ordinary glass, as it is made from laminated glass to ensure safety.

While a windshield is made tough, it doesn’t mean it won't get cracked, chipped or broken. Just remember that as you drive, the windshield is subjected to torture. After tens of thousands of miles, it might succumb to cracks. Likewise, there are instances that the windshield might get broken – someone threw stones on it or a person fell onto it. Nonetheless, you might really need to replace the windshield. Of course, seeking professional help is recommended, but somehow, you can it yourself. Here is how.

Before starting the process of replacing your windshield, ample preparation is needed. For instance, you need a replacement windshield that fits your car. Different cars have different dimensions, and so are their windshields. If you’re installing a new windshield, scuff the inside edge that will stick to the urethane. If you’re installing a used windshield, scrape the old urethane off while leaving a thin layer and scuff any bare spots.

Likewise, you need the proper tools and equipment that will allow you to properly do the job. For instance, you need electric knife, cold knife, razor blade scraper, scuffing pad, glass cleaner, suction cup window holders, primer, molding, urethane, urethane scraper, urethane application gun as well as protective gloves.

Once all of the aforementioned tools are prepared, it is now time to start replacing your windshield.

1. Remove the molding

Remove the molding. Most of the time, the molding for the windshield is just stuck on. This means you don’t need a specialized tool to pull and remove it. However, you have to do this carefully since if the molding gets damaged, you may need to replace it.

2. Scrape off the stickers and remove the mounted rearview mirror

Scrape off the stickers and remove the mounted rearview mirror. Since you need the registration and inspection stickers, you have to scrape them off and glue them on the replacement windshield. If the rearview mirror is mounted on the windshield, you also need to remove it, to be mounted on the replacement part.

3. Cut around the windshield on the outside and press it up inside

Cut around the windshield on the outside and press it up inside. On the outside, patiently and slowly cut through the urethane bead using a cold knife. If needed, cut through the urethane bead from the inside. Inside the car, press out the windshield to loosen it.

4. Lift windshield out

Lift windshield out. Use the suction cup to lift the windshield out. Do this very carefully.

5. Remove most of the urethane bead

Remove most of the urethane bead. Using the urethane scraper, remove most of the urethane bead on the car while leaving a thin layer – measuring around 1 mm – as new urethane will stick best to old one.

6. Apply primer paint on scratched paint or bare metal

Apply primer paint on scratched paint or bare metal. This is to prevent the metal to rust over time.

7. Apply a bead of urethane

Apply a bead of urethane. Cut the urethane tube to make a triangular hole. Then, employing a urethane gun, apply a continuous, thick bead of urethane around the edge where the windshield will fit. Depending on the urethane, you only have around 15 minutes – some take an hour -- to complete the application. After that, the urethane will dry (cure).

8. Get the replacement windshield into position

Get the replacement windshield into position. Use the suction cup handles to carefully lower the replacement windshield into position. Leave a small gap between the windshield glass and the edges of the recess.

9. Apply pressure

Apply pressure. Once the windshield is in place, apply medium pressure around the edge.

10. Re-place the molding, and re-touch paint

Re-place the molding, and re-touch paint. Re-place the molding – the undamaged one you removed – and re-touch up any scratches in the paint.

Now, all you need to do is to wait for the urethane to cure, although the curing time depends on the type of urethane you used. Be gentle in closing the doors to avoid a sudden rise in air pressure that could cause the windshield to pop out.

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