Not only does old weatherstripping not seal the car, but it also soaks up water, which leads to rust like this.
During the course of a restoration, there are always certain tasks that stand out as obvious; rebuild the engine and tranny, paint and body work, and refresh the upholstery. Then there are the not so obvious tasks; polish and straighten the trim, restore the emblems, and replace the weatherstripping. While it seems replacing the weatherstripping is obvious, many times it is done as cheap as possible or just plain forgotten all together. Doing so not only leaves the interior at risk to the elements, but does nothing for the door rattles or wind noise, reducing the pleasure of driving a classic muscle car.
Choosing which products to use can be a daunting task, as there are many manufacturers and types of products to choose from. When selecting a weatherstripping, there are 3 main questions:
Does the product have an OEM fit?
Does the product have an OEM finish?
Is the product guaranteed?
Most weatherstripping manufacturers’ offer 2 types of products, OEM and replacement parts. OEM parts have the same fit and finish as the original parts; these are the types of products used in quality restorations. Replacement style parts fit the vehicle but lack the details such as chrome trim, and may require different mounting hardware; these parts are good for drivers and generally cost less.
Purchasing weatherstripping can be done in individual pieces or as a kit. Kits usually come with all the usual suspects; door sills, A-pillar strips, and trunk seals. The kit we received from Soff Seal included those pieces and also included 1\4 window rubbers, window felts, hood-body seal, even door handle and lock gaskets, everything you could possibly need to replace all the weatherstripping on your classic.
Installing weatherstripping is really quite simple, but there are a few tricks to getting the job done right. To demonstrate how easy a quality kit installs, we replaced all the broken-down, dilapidated weatherstripping on our 1971 Buick GS convertible with a complete restoration weatherstripping kit from Soff Seal. The Soff Seal kit snaps right in and has soft texture that is quite amazing and, needless to say, cruising the GS is much quieter now that the top actually seals.
1. The Soff Seal kit includes all the parts needed to completely replace all the weatherstripping on a GM A-body.
2. The tools required for the job. The 3M super adhesive keeps the seals place where there are no mechanical fasteners. The biggest help in this project is the orange nylon scraper, it doesn’t damage the paint and really helps remove all the old adhesive.
3. The job begins by first removing each seal individually and replacing it as you go. The A-pillar removal starts by removing the upper screw. The bottom of the seal is held on with 3 plastic pins, pull the old strip off and pop out the pins.
4. The chrome A-pillar channel gets removed by pulling the 3 screws hidden by the seal. Removing this piece makes it easier to clean.
5. Use the 1\2” chisel to remove the old seal. Any scratches will be covered by the new seal, so a chisel is ok here. After scraping the channel, wipe some mineral spirits on and scrub it with a rag to clean the residue off.
6. Replace the chrome channel and lay a thin bead of 3M super weatherstrip adhesive in the channel where the seal will lay. Press the new seal in place from the top to the bottom. Each side is marked left and right, so make sure you get the right one.
7. Use the supplied plastic pin to secure the bottom of the A-pillar seal. Sometimes the holes need to be opened using a small pick.
8. The upper portion of the seal is held in place with a small screw, which is supplied with the kit. Note the tab on the left side of the seal is slotted in the chrome trim.
9. The door seal replacement begins with removing the pins that hold the old seal on. Next, pull off the entire rubber seal.
10. What remains in the door are a bunch of little T-pins. These get removed with pliers. Sometimes they break, so you just push the rest through the hole and remove it from inside the door.
11. The front side of the strip has 2 screws which need to be removed.
12. Using the nylon scraper, remove all of the remaining seal. This is usually the worst seal as the doors take the brunt of the abuse.
13. Using some mineral spirits helps loosen the old adhesive. Scrape the adhesive to get most of it off.
14. Then use a rag to wipe the door clean. The cleaner the surface, the better the adhesive will stick and the longer the new stripping will last.
15. The door seal install starts with the plastic pin in the upper rear portion of the door.
16. The door seal area gets a bead of adhesive between the mounting holes. Since we are using a Soff Seal kit, all the pins line up and snap right in place. These pins won’t pull out of the rubber like the cheap kits.
17. The front side of the seal gets 2 screws which are supplied in the kit. Roll the window down to make it easier to install this section.
18. The door jamb rubber U pieces are simple screw-on parts. The 4 screws get removed, and there is no adhesive used here.
19. Then the new rubber is slipped in place. It helps to have the 1\4 window rolled down to get the part in place.
20. The 1\4 window rubber gets pulled out with a pair of pliers. It may take several tries until the metal inner slides out, then the rubber stops tearing, and it slides right out.
21. Next slide the new rubber into the channel. Using some soapy water makes the rubber slide in easier.
22. The convertible top header seal has 4 screws (2 in each end) and a bunch of those T-pins. Our convertible only had about 6” of actual rubber left, so removal was easy. Pull the pins with some pliers.
23. After the header has been scraped and cleaned, place the new header seal in place and re-install the screws.
24. Push in the rest of the pins to complete the new header seal installation. Use some adhesive in between each pin to make sure the top seals the weather out.
25. Remove each top frame pad individually and replace as you remove them. Scrape the frame with the nylon scraper.
26. Each pad has a unique length and mounting points, but they all look very similar. Match the old with the new.
27. Replace the old screws with new screws (not supplied). The holes in the new pads will line up, so if they don’t, you probably have the wrong pad for that location. There are six pads, 3 on each side.
28. The trunk seal requires some special attention. Note the orientation of the seal; this is key to proper installation of the seal. Lay a bead of adhesive all the way around the trunk lip. The seal gets pressed in under the lip.
29. The trunk seal is supplied long, so you can trim it and get a correct seal. Line up the seal and use a razor knife to remove the excess seal. Make sure you trim the seal about a 1\4” long so you don’t have a gap in between. Place small dab of adhesive on the cut end of the seal and press it together with the other. All done; now our convertible is sealed from the elements. Hey, maybe it won’t snow inside my car anymore!
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).