How to Replace a Windshield: An Easy Tutorial for Car Dummies

how to replace a windshield

Do you have a chip or crack in the windshield of your car? Few things in life are more annoying. Once you have a crack, it will generally keep growing, which is not only unattractive but can also be dangerous.

Taking your car to a repair shop for a new windshield can be expensive. It’s also unnecessary. Learning how to replace a windshield is easier than you might imagine. It’s a simple matter of understanding a few basic repair tips.

Let’s take a look at a few simple things you need to know to make your car look as good as new all on your own!

How to Replace a Windshield: An Easy Tutorial for Car Dummies

Do you need a new windshield? This task is easy. There’s no reason to call the pros, even if you’re an auto dummy.

Remove Your Old Windshield

The first thing you’ll need to do when replacing a windshield is remove the damaged windshield from your vehicle. To accomplish this, remove the rubber trim and peel the gasket from the groove around the glass, and remove any clips keeping the molding in place. Sometimes these clips are hard to find but fairly easy to remove.

The area at the front of the car that forms a frame for the windshield is the pinch-weld. Look closely and determine the best angle for separating the windshield glass from the pinch-weld. To remove the windshield, you’ll first have to cut it away from the urethane seal with a razor from either inside or outside the car

Cutting Through the Urethane Seal

This can be a challenge because the urethane around the windshield is a polymer-based adhesive that is flexible yet very strong.

Cutting from the outside can cause problems if the glass is too close to the pinch-weld. If you’re not careful, the glass can break and make a mess.

Cutting from the inside is easier. Use a razor knife and cut with a dragging motion.

Lifting the Windshield

Don’t try this on your own unless you have experience and know exactly what you’re doing. This is a two-person job. Open a front door of the car and reach in with one arm. Gently apply pressure to the glass. Push it outward and away, creating a gap between the glass and the pinch-weld.

Once you have lifted the glass away from the car, set it carefully on the ground. It’s a smart idea to place a towel or some cardboard beneath the old windshield to keep from breaking it as you set it down. After all, you won’t want to have to sweep up a mess of shattered glass from your driveway, garage, or wherever you park.

Now prepare the pinch-weld for the new windshield using a razor to trim away whatever urethane remains. Then use sandpaper to remove rust from the pinch-weld, followed by water and a brush to clean away any contaminants.

Preparing the Pinch-Weld

Tape off the area around the pinch-weld, covering any areas that weren’t sanded. This prevents the primer from getting on anything other than the bare metal.

Now apply primer to the bare metal of the pinch-weld. Apply it in thin layers rather than one heavy coat.

Installing the New Windshield

Apply a layer of urethane primer to the black band around the perimeter of the windshield. This black band is the frit band. The primer will open the molecules of the frit band to help it bond with the urethane.

Now use a caulking gun to apply urethane to the pinch-weld. Do this using an electric gun but producing a consistent bead can difficult and result in a leaky seal.

Using suction grips, ease the new windshield into place. Carefully align it by sight. Be careful to not touch the frit band with your hand due to dirt and oils on your skin that might impact how the glass adheres to the urethane.

For more information on replacement glass for your vehicle, check out Windshield Guru.

Give the Urethane Time to Dry

It’s dangerous to drive your car before the urethane has dried. We recommend letting it set up to 24 hours before driving, depending on the type of urethane used.

Keep in mind that you risk the windshield glass separating from the metal frame if you drive the car without giving it adequate time to dry.

One helpful tip is to use tape to hold the windshield in place until the urethane dries.

Replacing the Window Gasket

Now that you’ve installed the windshield glass, it’s time to install the window gasket.

Remove any strips of tape from the glass.

Use a razor knife to cut the gasket as needed, and use a rag and water to clean any contaminants from the surface of the gasket. Start at one end of the gasket and press it into the groove a few inches at a time until you’ve worked your way around the entire perimeter of the windshield.

Now place gasket clips at intervals around the windshield and tighten them.

Replacing the Trim Around the Windshield

Once you are confident that the urethane has dried completely and the gasket is properly installed, it’s time to replace the trim along the perimeter of the windshield.

The purpose of the trim is to cover the gasket, clips, and the seal over the pinch-weld.

DIY Windshield Replacement

You want to keep your car looking its best, but safety should always be your top priority. When your windshield gets chipped or cracked, replacing it is a matter or both restoring its appearance and keeping it roadworthy.

More people prefer to take care of auto repairs themselves whenever possible. This is a way of being self-sufficient while also saving money. Learning how to replace a windshield doesn’t have to be complicated. You only need the tips contained in this article as well as a little bit of can-do attitude!

Click here to see five ways to prevent rock chips from damaging your windshield, and check out our auto manuals if you need help with automotive maintenance.