How to Remove and Replace Car Window Trim

A car driving through water.
What You'll Need
New window trim
Flat head screwdriver
Metal scraper
Coarse sandpaper
Damp rag
Measuring tape
Sharp knife
Spray adhesive
Masking tape
Automotive primer

If you’ve had your car for several years or have recently purchased an older model, you might find that the window trim on the side windows is beginning to crack and rot. That’s definitely not a good thing since it’s eventually going to disintegrate completely, meaning your window won’t close properly and the rain and wind will get into the car. Under these circumstances, it’s best to replace the trim completely. You can take it into a glass shop and have them do the work if you wish. However, this is a project you can handle, allowing you to save your money for other things.

Step 1 - Remove Old Trim

open truck door to access window trim

Roll the window all the way down. Next, begin prying off the old trim using a flat head screwdriver. Depending on how old the trim is, it should come off fairly easily in long strips. Work your way gradually around the window until you’ve removed as much of the trim as possible. You’ll usually need to work from a number of different angles. Make sure to get off as much of the adhesive holding on the trim as possible.

Step 2 - Scrape

Using the small metal scraper, go all around the window to remove the rest of the adhesive and any of the rubber trim you couldn’t get off with the screwdriver. Go slowly and scrape as hard as you can, but make sure only to scrape the area where there was trim and adhesive, otherwise you’ll mark the paintwork. Using masking tape as a barrier can help prevent damage to paintwork.

Step 3 - Sand

Use sandpaper to scour the area beneath the adhesive and trim, ensuring you get rid of any particles that remain. This is important because the sanded metal will give a better surface for the new adhesive. Use a coarse-textured sandpaper to go all the way to the metal. When you’ve finished, clean the surface with a damp rag and allow the metal to dry thoroughly. Gently brush a small amount of primer over any bare metal to prevent rusting at a later date.

Step 4 - Fit New Trim

Driver giving thumbs up out car window

Before you actually fit the new trim, you need to measure the sides of the window and cut the trim to size if it comes in large lengths. If you’re not certain about your measurements, allow a little extra because you can trim it back later. Use a very sharp knife for cutting and where you have 90-degree angles, cut each strip to 45 degrees so they fit closely and cleanly against each other.

Next, spray the inside of each piece of trim with the spray adhesive. You only need a light coating so it doesn’t drip. Make sure that you spray the rubber and not the appropriate area of the car door. Spray and fit the pieces one at a time, ensuring they fit well against each other and that the trim is firmly in the door. As you put each piece in place, hold it there for several seconds for the adhesive to take hold.

When all the pieces are fully in place, allow them to dry for a few hours before rolling up the window again. Repeat for the other windows.