How To Replace Car Window Trim

Posted on: 1 January 2018

You may not think about your vehicle window trim until the interior starts getting wet. The trim helps seal the vehicle from the elements, but it can start to rot over time, it leaks because of poor installation.

Another sign the trim needs replacing is a whistling noise from the window. You should be able to replace the window trim yourself by following these steps.

Prepare to Replace the Window Trim

To replace window trim, gather:

  • damp rag
  • tape measure
  • masking tape
  • garden hose
  • flat-blade screwdriver 
  • sharp knife
  • metal scraper
  • coarse sandpaper 
  • spray trim adhesive or silicone sealer
  • automotive primer
  • replacement trim

Trim should be replaced before winter, so it can adhere properly. Lay drop cloths or plastic over the seats and floor of the vehicle. Test the trim for leaks by spraying water with a hose, or pour a bucket of water on it.

If the trim is in good shape, and you still hear air, apply adhesive or silicone to loose pieces. Otherwise, buy replacement stripping that has the same thickness and shape as the old one. It should also have the same rubber studs and hole channels.

Remove the Old Trim

Roll the window down, and open the door open to access the trim better. Use the screwdriver to detach the screws, if needed, and pry the rubber studs from the holes, taking care not to scratch the paint. To prevent scratches, lay masking tape around the paint edge.

Gently peel the trim from the window, unhooking clips as needed. For trim that won't come off easily, spray it with the adhesive, and let it stand several minutes.

Gently scrape remaining adhesive using the scraper. Sand the metal area under the trim using a circular motion, and use a damp rag to clean dust. Coat the metal with primer to prevent rust.

Install the New Trim

Measure the per miter of the exterior window, and cut the new trim to fit using the knife. Cut strips at 90-degree angles to 45-degree angles. Dry fit the trim around the window, and make adjustments.

Dab a thin layer of adhesive on the metal, and while you let that set, coat the inner rubber portion of the new trim with a light layer of spray adhesive. Be careful not to spray it too thick, or it will drip.. 

Push the trim in place, and keep your hands on it several seconds to set the adhesive. Reinstall screws and clips, and after the trim has set for then minutes, press on it again to help remove trapped air.

Contact an auto glass repair shop for more help.