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How do you replace your windshield?

Replacing your windshield is not an everyday task, and there's a reason for that. You need specialized tools, a skilled hand and a lot of time. One mistake can mean the glass shattering or failing at a really inopportune time. That's just the nature of safety when it comes to your windshield—it's pretty much invisible until it's not. Regardless of why you want to replace it, the job is really meant for professionals (and we're not just telling you that so you'll donate money to your auto body professional.) However, if you have the time and the will to learn, follow these steps to make it happen.

1. Take It All Off

In order to expose the complete perimeter of the windshield, anything and everything around the windshield has to be removed. Pop open the hood and remove the moldings and any clips around the windshield, plus your wipers. Each car's windshield design is different, meaning you may only have one continuous molding to remove, or you may have a multiple molding segments and clips to remove. Some clips can be pulled straight off with your hands, others may require a screwdriver.

2. Make a Plan

Figure out the best way to cut out and detach the windshield from the merging metal of the car that forms the frame (called the pinch-weld.) The windshield can be cut out from either the interior or the exterior, and it's generally removed with the help of a specialty knife or razor. You'll have to analyze the angles to determine exactly how yours is fitted and the best way to cut through the urethane around the entire perimeter. Our advice is to watch a few videos on YouTube—you may even find one for your particular make and model.

3. Separate the Windshield

This will be tricky. You're cutting the urethane that holds the laminated glass to the metal frame. Most people prefer to attack the problem from the outside since there's more room, but there are safety hazards with this method. If your car doesn't have a thick enough strip of urethane (less than an eighth of an inch), your knife could slip and break the glass. If you go from the inside, you should use a knife with an extended handled and perform a dragging motion as many times as need need be to fully cut the urethane. Always use gloves in case of slips. Once this is complete, you can push the glass gently out from the inside. If the urethane was cut correctly, it should pop right out. Just be warned that the glass is very heavy, so grab a partner to help you lift it.

4. Clean Up

Any dirt can be cleaned off with regular water and a brush. It's extremely important that the area is ready for the new urethane you'll apply. Any the rust on the pinch weld needs to be sanded down and any excess urethane removed with a razor. You're looking for about 3/16" (3 mm) thick of old urethane as a base to apply the new urethane. Use a primer recommended by your urethane brand to prime the pinch weld according to your primer's instructions. Many primers also recommend priming the new windshield's perimeter, too. Priming aids in adhesion and prevents future rusting, so please don't skip this step.

5. Apply the Urethane

Use an caulking gun to apply a thick, consistent bead of urethane around the entire perimeter of the pinch weld. For best results, we recommend using a triangular-shaped extruded bead. Urethane uniformity is vital to create a strong and water-tight bond between the pinch weld and your windshield, so we highly recommend using an electric caulking gun. If you don't have one, they are available at most hardware stores. Use a putty knife or a flathead screwdriver to smooth out any gaps or breaks in your urethane bead.

6. Install the Windshield

Some moldings must be attached to the windshield prior to installation—check which type you have and attach any required moldings. Align the windshield and carefully set it atop the urethane on the metal frame. There may or may not be a mounting block on the bottom of the windshield to assist you. If your car doesn't have mounting blocks, then attach some tape at the top two corners of the windshield, to keep it from slipping down while the urethane cures and bonds to the new windshield. Install any other moldings or clips required.

7. Wait and Test

Some types of urethane dry within an hour and others can take up to 24 hours or more, depending on the season. Check the cure time for your urethane, and be sure to leave it alone for at least the minimum cure time. Failure to wait until the urethane fully cures is extremely unsafe—imagine your windshield falling out when you come to a hard stop on the road, or, much worse, falling out during a rollover accident instead of protecting you. Once you have waited the recommended amount of time, apply some pressure to the windshield to make sure it does not move. Remove any tape and other protective materials used during the replacement. Congratulations, your car is ready to drive again!

As you can see, replacing your own windshield is complicated. To be done properly, it takes specialty materials, tools, and training. Since you're already here, why not see how little it would cost to have one of our professionals fix it for you? Find windshield repair near me