DIY: How to Replace Your Car’s Windshield

Photo Credit: Touch of Glass NY

Perhaps a vandal whacked your windshield and caused nasty spider-webbing. Or maybe a peeved ex smashed your windshield out of spite. Whatever the ultimate cause, you now have a big project on your hands: to replace that windshield fast so you can drive safely.

All of you Do-it-Yourselfers can save significant money and time on the windshield replacement job, but they need good help and good resources. This article will walk you through the replacement process, step-by-step, and connect you with a reputable Bay Area parts supplier, so that you can get the components you need for your job at a fair price.

  1. Get a replacement windshield.

At A1 Auto Recyclers, you can find recycled used car, truck, van, and SUV parts for practically every motor vehicle out there. Be sure when you transfer the new windshield from A1 Auto Recyclers that you cushion the glass to prevent it from getting cracked in transit.

  1. Remove plastic moldings.

Small plastic side and top moldings must be taken off first. These clips are basically about an inch long. You might be tempted simply to break them off, but if you do so, you will have to glue on the molding, so ideally leave the clips intact and just take out the moldings.

  1. Cut out the windshield using a cold knife.

This is the most arduous part of the task. Urethane is very strong. This polymer permits the windshield to flex without cracking while you drive, so it’s a good thing it’s strong. But when you’re trying to cut it out, it can resist your efforts fiercely. A cold knife or extended handle razor knife can be used to slice through the urethane. If you are experienced, you can probably get through the job in 15 minutes. But if you don’t have the right tools and you are not experienced, it can take an hour or longer. Do-it-Yourself sites have a variety of tips for how to get through the urethane effectively without breaking the glass and which tools to use depending on your skill and proficiency level.

  1. Clean up the pinch weld and prepare for re-installment. 

Use water and a brush to eliminate dirt and grime. Be sure also to use a blade to trim down the old urethane to just around 3 millimeters. If the urethane is corroded or damaged or loose, you might want to clip it back further — all the way to the metal, in some cases. Be sure to prime any bare metal before going further.

  1. Prime the glass for urethane adhesion.

Choose a primer that’s appropriate for the urethane you are using.

  1. Use a caulking gun to apply the urethane.

Watch out for contamination from debris, dirt, oil, etc. You could do the job with a hand caulker, but you may have a difficult time getting a consistent bead. Since you want to minimize the risk of leaks, an electric caulking gun may be a better way to go.

  1. Insert and align new windshield.

You’re almost there! In this process, again, you’ll need to watch out for potentially contaminating the components. If you feel uncertain about any aspect of the removal and installation process, talk to the team at A1 Auto Recyclers in Kirtland, NM for advice, tips, and assistance.