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What Is Automotive Weatherstripping and What Are the Different Types?

What is Automotive Weatherstripping?


Automotive weatherstripping is the rubber material that seals the edges of a vehicle's doors, windows, windshield, trunk lid, etc. It could also be called a weather seal, a weatherstrip, or just a seal. Weatherstripping prevents the outside elements like rain, snow, sand, and wind from entering a vehicle and ruining your day. There is a massive variety of auto weather seals available these days because cars and trucks have been using them for over 100 years. With that variety comes plenty of confusion. Luckily, 1A Auto is here to sort through this rubber madness. Here is a guide to some of the different types of weatherstripping you will find on cars and trucks.

What Are Door Seals?

Car Door Weatherstripping

Door seals are the weatherstrips that attach to the outside perimeter of the car door and seal the door to the body of the vehicle. They are usually held on with clips that slide into the door seal and then snap into holes in the doors. If the door has a frame around the window, the rubber door seal will likely be O-shaped and surround the entire perimeter of the door and window frame. If a vehicle does not have a frame surrounding the window, the door seal will be U-shaped, and attach vertically to the front and rear of the door and connect across the bottom.

What Are Roof Rail Seals?

Door Roofrail Vertical Seals

Roof rail seals attach to the roof of a vehicle where the door window frame comes in contact with it. This helps seal the wind, rain, snow, and dirt from entering the vehicle with the door closed. Damaged roof rail weatherstripping is a very common cause of wind noise at high speeds. If they are not in great shape and installed properly, wind noise will definitely be a part of the daily commute.

What Are Quarter Window Vertical Seals?

When it comes to weatherstripping, quarter windows are often overlooked because they don't have much attached to them. One seal that they do have though, is the vertical quarter window seal. It attaches vertically to the front edge of the quarter windows. It seals the door glass to the quarter window on hardtop and convertible models. Sedans would not use this type of window weatherstripping because they have a frame around their quarter windows.

What Are Window Sweeps?

Window Sweeps

Window sweeps, also known as "window felts," live on each side of the door glass toward the bottom. They are often made of a flexible piece of rubber, and some have a felt-like material on the inside edge. Their purpose is to allow the glass to roll up and down, but prevent debris from falling down into the door. On some vehicles, the interior window sweeps are mounted to the door panel, and others may be mounted to the steel door shell itself. Exterior window sweeps most often clip onto the door shell.

What Are Window Channel Seals?

Window channel seals, also known as window run channel seals, attach to the insides of the door window frame. The door glass then rolls up into them. They prevent wind, water, and debris from entering your vehicle when the windows are rolled up. They also prevent the window from rattling in the door frame. The insides of these weather seals are frequently made of soft rubber or felt to prevent scratches on the glass.

What Are Windshield Seals?

Windshield seal

The windshield weatherstrip is the rubber seal that surrounds the windshield glass in its entirety. It helps prevent water and wind from leaking in around the edges of the windshield. Some vehicles have windshields that are glued to the car with the windshield weatherstrip laid on top of it. Other vehicles need the windshield weatherstripping installed at the same time as the windshield itself, which means it cannot be installed after the fact. These weather seals are held in by pressure, clips, or weatherstrip adhesive, depending on the vehicle.

What Are Quarter Window Lock Pillar Seals / U-Jamb Seals?

U-jamb seals, also known as "lock pillar seals" on older vehicles, install right in front of the quarter windows at the bottom corner. This is also the upper front-most corner of the quarter panel. They are often U-shaped and made of a solid or hollow piece of rubber. This piece of weatherstrip is held on with screws, clips, or adhesive, and prevents debris from entering the insides of the quarter panel.

What Are Header Seals?

Header Seal

When you think of the word "header", you may automatically think "exhaust system", but that is not the case when we are talking about weatherstripping. The header seal can be found on cars with convertible tops or targa tops. It crosses the span of the top of the windshield and seals either the convertible top frame or the front section of the targa top to the windowshield frame. Some header seals also run down the A-pillars as well, which means that they seal the door to the windshield as well. They are held on with clips, glue, or screws depending on the application.

What Are A-Pillar Seals?

The A-pillar weatherstrip can also be called a "windshield pillar seal." This type of weatherstripping attaches to the A-pillar, which is the side of the windshield. A-pillar seals are intended to seal the door glass or window frame to the windshield. Like so many other weather seals, they are made of soft rubber and prevent the outside elements from entering in.

What Are Convertible Top Seals?

Convertible top seals usually come in a kit, and include all of the side weather seals that attach to the bottom side of a convertible top. These types of weatherstrips help seal the gap between the door and quarter window glass and the convertible top. This obviously prevents wind noise, rain, and other elements from entering the luxurious interior of the fancy convertible. The beauty of these weather seals is that they are designed to fold up with the top without stretching or becoming damaged.

What Are T-Top Seals?

When it comes to T-tops, you have to accept that 99% of them will leak water inside the car. That is why replacement T-top weatherstripping exists. The original rubber seals dry out, crack, and become brittle, especially in the hot summer sun. Replacing them solves this problem. They most commonly attach to the body of the vehicle and are held on with a combination of clips and weatherstrip adhesive.

What Are Trunk Seals?

The weatherstripping around the trunk lid is called a "trunk seal." It seals the trunk lid to the body of the car and also channels water down to the ground rather than into the trunk. As you can imagine, with trunk lids being used so frequently, these seals have a hard life. They often have objects dragged across them, along with water, snow, and ice beating on them mercilessly. Luckily, replacing them is easy, and they are usually held in with nothing more than weatherstrip adhesive.

What Are the Signs of Worn Weatherstripping?

Replacement weatherstrip is needed anytime that a vehicle has excessive wind noise, rain leakage, or outside elements finding their way in. It can crack, split, or become brittle over time. Weatherstripping can also unseal and loosen over time.

Usually trying to find a water leak is the most challenging part, because you need to be in a rain storm to watch the leak take place. If the weather isn't on your schedule, you can always run a water hose over the car or truck and watch for water to pool in the interior.

Replacing Weatherstripping Yourself

The difficulty level of replacing weatherstripping varies from one vehicle to the next, but overall, most weatherstripping is easy to install by any do-it-yourselfer. It will usually involve removing the adhesive, cleaning the channels, test fitting, and reinstalling by the same method the weatherstripping was applied. For tips to make a weatherstripping replacement easier, check out this article. To replace weatherstripping yourself, check out our how-to videos covering many years, makes, and models.

Need Some New Weatherstripping?

High Quality Auto Parts

When it comes to automotive weatherstripping, 1A Auto has everything that you need. We have rubber weather seals for thousands of applications. If it is attached to your car or truck, we probably have it in stock. We use these weatherstrips on our own classic cars and trucks, and we have absolute confidence in the fit, finish, and quality.

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