Your car door seals are responsible for making sure your vehicle’s cabin stays dry, warm and quiet, whether your vehicle is parked or out on the road. Over time, however, the rubber in these seals can start to degrade, which can lead to a situation where you notice additional wind noise on the highway, feel a breeze during the wintertime or spot drops of moisture or a wet carpet near the door itself.
How can you deal with seals that are approaching the end of their life? Check out these three easy tips for help.
1. Reseating a Seal
It’s possible that your car door seals aren’t actually worn, but have simply fallen out of place. This is a relatively common occurrence, as the regular movement of the door can tug and pull at the original seating point used by the seal to keep things airtight.
First, examine the entire periphery of the door to see if you can spot any gaps where the seal itself is attached to the frame. Once located, make sure that the seal isn’t frayed or cracked near the gap itself, but just dislodged. Next, use weatherstrip adhesive to reseal the strip to the frame. Pro tip: A snap-clamp is a great tool for holding the weatherstripping in place until the weatherstripping has cured.
2. Consider a Patch
If the gaps in your car door seals are actually torn, but only in a small area, you might want to consider a patch rather than replacing an entire seal. The simplest way to patch a gap is to use universal weather seal, which can be purchased in rolls. Simply cut the length of weatherstripping that you need and use the same adhesive mentioned above to stick it in the area that is torn or frayed.
3. Total Replacement
Take a deep breath, because replacing worn car door seals is much easier than it sounds. If your seal is torn or frayed in several places at once – or if, when you pinch the rubber it doesn’t bounce back to its original shape but simply stays compressed – then it’s likely time to replace the entire thing. Torn, frayed and compressed dried-out door seals simply can’t do the job they were designed to do anymore.
Removing your existing door seal is as simple as tugging it free from the frame of the door, taking care to remove any interior door panels (using a screwdriver) that might be over the top of the seal before doing so. Then, clean the door frame where the car door seals are mounted to make sure you’ve removed all remnants of the old seal. You might need to use an adhesive remover to make sure there’s no old adhesive or bits of rubber left behind. Finally, attach the new seal using a tube of weatherstrip adhesive to make the bond permanent — and make sure to have plenty of clips on-hand to keep it in place while everything dries to a perfect tack.
Don’t let a worn car door seal get you down. Following these simple steps will have your car sealed, quiet and dry just like it was when it was new.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.