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November 23, 2021

When to Replace Your Weatherstripping

There are times when it’s painfully obvious that you need new weatherstripping- you have an identified leak, a seal gets torn or is even missing in places- but, in many cases it won’t be that obvious. Chances are if you wait till you’re seeing the road through the crack at the bottom of your door, you should’ve replaced your weatherstripping a long time ago.

So, when should you replace your weatherstripping? Here are some signs that it’s time to go ahead and replace those old, worn out seals with fresh new ones:

  • They just look worn out. If its dried out, cracked, discolored or droopy, it needs to be replaced. Not only will deteriorated weatherstripping leave your ride vulnerable to all the bad things that moisture brings, but it will also make the vehicle look awful. Fresh, new, supple rubber parts really are the finishing touch to make a build look “straight-off-the-assembly-line” good.
  • If the vehicle is over 25 years old (and still has the original weatherstripping), you should replace it. Years ago the rubber compounds used to make these parts weren’t as good as they are today. Here at Steele we use high quality EPDM rubber with no fillers and that lasts for decades.
  • You’re experiencing increased noise in the cabin. If you can hear wind, rattling windows or even just road noise your weatherstripping could be to blame. You’ll have to become a detective to see if you can spot clues to figure out specifically where the noise is coming from.
  • Unexplained water in the vehicle. You’ll have to be a detective again and figure out exactly where it’s coming from. It could be a bad seal, but it could also be any number of other things.
  • It no longer has a bouncy, positive seal. If your weatherstripping looks deflated, flattened and has more of a passive seal, it’s there, but it’s not doing its job.
  • On the flip side of that, it looks good, but it’s hard and brittle. Again, it’s there, but it’s not doing its job.

So, how can you tell if your seal has that positive seal that’s necessary for proper function?

The Dollar Bill Test is one way to tell for sure if a seal is doing its job or not:

You can use this test anywhere you have a squishy sponge rubber that seals against metal

  1. Open the door/trunk
  2. Take your dollar bill and place it part way across the seal and close the door. Make sure you leave enough of the bill showing so you can get a good grip on it for the test.
  3. Gently pull on the dollar bill. If the seal is working properly there should be a little resistance preventing the bill from sliding out completely. However, if when you pull on the bill you don’t feel any resistance at all, odds are you’ve found a weak spot in the seal. Another thing you should note, if the bill comes out with a lot of gunk on it (sticky stuff), it likely means the seal has some gunk on it and is therefore also not sealing well (read more about How to Maintain Your Weatherstripping the Right Way).
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 around the entire seal. Check the entire seal to be sure that there aren’t multiple weak points. If so, it’s probably best to replace the seal all together.

Does your weatherstripping pass the test? If so, cruise on! If not, take the time to fix it now so you don’t have a bigger problem later.

Steele not only has all the products you need but all the knowledge you need to get the job done right, too. If you have questions about Rubber Parts or Weatherstripping on your Classic Car, Truck, Hot Rod or even your boat, trailer or RV, feel free to reach out to us! You can call us at 800-650-4482, contact us through our website or comment on this post and we’ll get you answers as quickly as possible. Check out our YouTube channel for our full library of how-to/installation videos.

Steele Rubber Products, located in Denver, NC, is a manufacturer and seller of high-quality rubber parts and weatherstripping products for classic and vintage automobiles, hot rods, RVs and Boats. Steele offers more than 12,000 parts for cars and trucks as well as a large line of universal weatherstripping and rubber parts to be used on any project. Established in 1958, Steele is a trusted name in the automotive restoration industry. 

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