How to Fix Broken Car Windows

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When working on your car, some problems are easier to fix than others. For instance, a broken headlight is something you can replace easily. It's a lot more difficult for you to pull large dents out of body panels on your own. Luckily, broken windows fall into the former category. With a few simple tools and a little patience, you can keep the elements on the outside of your car where they belong.

Things You'll Need

  • Shop manual for your car
  • Well-stocked tool kit with various sizes of Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
  • A big tarp
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • A scrap piece of cardboard
  • Masking tape
  • New window glass for your car
  • Remove the largest pieces of glass from the broken window before proceeding. Vacuum any small pieces that you see.

  • Remove the door card, taking care not to puncture or tear the plastic moisture barrier you'll find underneath. You will likely need at least one screwdriver to remove it, and shop manuals unfortunately don't usually specify which. The screws themselves will show you whether it's a flat-head or a Phillips, which should guide your process of elimination. Consult your shop manual for any specific instructions regarding the door and window mechanisms.

    If any other tools are required, the shop manual should specify. However, it's highly unlikely other tools will be needed for this task. Take care not to rip or tear the door card; depending on your car, it might be rather fragile.

  • Place the door card on your tarp. Draw a rough diagram of the door on a piece of cardboard.

    Next, tape any screws, bolts or other hardware you've removed from your door card to the cardboard diagram. You'll use the diagram to place the hardware exactly where it needs to go when reassembling the door. Don't remove the lift mechanism or motor (for automatic windows). Remove the weather stripping from the top of your door.

  • Vacuum any remaining glass pieces out of the inside of the door. Do the same for the weather stripping.

  • Note the location of the clips and bracketry inside the door that will hold your new glass. Replace the weather stripping.

  • Line up the new piece of glass with the opening in the weather stripping. Carefully ease the glass down into the channel in the door. Keep a close watch on how it moves down toward your lift mechanism. If anything is blocking the glass from reaching the lift mechanism, ease the glass back out and remove the blockage. Keep attempting to slide the glass into place until you succeed.

  • Test your window to make sure it works properly before replacing the door card. Make any necessary adjustments. Replace your door card, and wash all the fingerprints off your nice, new window.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's not impossible to do this by yourself. If you've got a friend you'd trust with your car, though, it might be worth offering to spring for pizza if he'll help you. You may frequently wish for an extra pair of hands, especially when you're trying to position the glass.
  • Side windows are made of tempered glass. They're designed to shatter into tiny bits rather than larger pieces that could possibly kill you in a crash. It's less dangerous glass, but it's still glass. You may want to wear gloves while cleaning up your broken glass.

References

  • Photo Credit Raleighwoman
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