When we talk about the various issues that can arise with car windshields and windows, we usually think in terms of cracks and chips. However, those aren’t the only things that can cause trouble.
Unless your windows are open on a rainy day, there’s no reason for them to be letting water into your car. If you’ve got water coming in where it shouldn’t be, you’ve got a potentially big problem on your hands. Is this something you can fix yourself, or do you need to schedule an appointment with your favorite repair shop?
This article will help you figure out whether it’s best to do a repair on your own or call in the professionals if you notice a leaky window.
What Causes Windows to Leak?
There are two primary things that could cause your windows or windshield to leak — cracks or weatherstripping problems. Cracks and chips in the glass are usually easy to spot, and unless they’re large or cut all the way through the layers of the safety glass, they won’t generally leak.
Weatherstripping issues can happen anywhere on your window or windshield. They arise when age, sun or damage causes the rubber seal to rot away the weatherstripping. Weatherstripping is located around the edges of the window glass, and your car may have one of three types depending on what model it is — window channel, vent window seals or beltline weatherstripping.
Your windshield also contains weatherstripping arounds its perimeter, which may be one of two types — A-pillar seals or header seals. Header seals are most commonly found on cars with convertible tops.
It doesn’t require much leeway to let water slip in between the cracks — and it doesn’t take much water to encourage mold or mildew growth in your car’s upholstery.
DIY or Professional Repairs?
Are leaky windows or windshields something you can replace on your own in an afternoon, or should you head to the shop?
Thankfully, leaky weatherstripping around windows and doors is fairly easy to replace. The biggest challenge isn’t fixing the leak — it’s figuring out where the water is coming from in the first place. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and you can find the source of the water with a quick inspection. Look for cracks or missing pieces of weatherstripping — those are usually the most likely suspects.
If you’re not that lucky, there are still a couple tricks you can use to spot the leaks. You can find out where water is pooling or dripping in your car by using a hose. Try drying everything off as well as possible, then dust the surfaces with cornstarch or talcum powder — something that sticks to the surface easily, but will show moisture if it comes into contact with water.
Then close the doors and windows and hose off the outside of your car. After a few minutes, open the doors again and inspect the talcum powder to determine where the leak is.
You can also put some soap on a washing mitt and cover the window with it, then turn your heater on high defrost. Get out of the car and make sure all the windows and doors are fully closed, and you’ll see bubbles where air is coming out. This method is useful for finding air leaks, but it also works in this case. Where wind can get in, so can moisture.
Fixing It Yourself
Once you figure out where the leak is, all that’s left is to replace the weatherstripping to stop another leak from happening again. The difficulty of this task will vary depending on where the leak is. Dripping water around doors, windows and trunks is usually fairly simple and inexpensive to remedy.
All you need to do is remove the damaged weatherstripping and replace it with a new strip. Most auto parts stores sell replacements, though you may need to order the replacement strips based on your car’s make and model. The steps you take to replace your weatherstripping may vary based on which kind your car has, so do your research before taking on this project.
For windshield leaks, the process is a little more complex. If you can’t locate the source of the leak, you may need to remove and reseal the entire windshield, which is a more complicated process. You can do this yourself with a bit of patience and a couple extra tools, but if you’re not confident in your skills, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your favorite mechanic.
Fix Your Car Windows Fast
If water is leaking into your car, you need to act quickly. A vehicle’s interior provides the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. In many cases, all you need is a little water to trigger mold infiltration. If you’ve got a leak, fix it as soon as possible.