Choosing Weatherstrip: Quality Counts
When replacing weatherstrip, it is seldom one type fits all. Some Corvettes are daily-driven road warriors. Others are full-blown customs and then there are the original, low-mileage show stoppers. Every owner enjoys their Corvette differently. That's why you'll find different quality levels of weatherstrip. The most prevalent are OEM and Reproduction.
OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, weatherstrip is manufactured by or for General Motors and is what was installed on your Corvette at the factory. It will have the same color, fit and overall finish as original weatherstrip.
Reproduction weatherstrip is the highest quality reproduction of the original that is available. It is made in the same fashion with the same material as the OEM-styled parts to provide the same fit and function as the original.
Value weatherstrip is made to general service and replacement standards. It is a high quality and a valid choice as an economical alternative. Value weatherstrip is often manufactured from alternative materials, such as EPDM, a type of synthetic rubber.
Tools of the Trade
Replacing worn or cracked weatherstrip can seem like a daunting task, but armed with the right tools and materials, your restoration can take as little as a few hours!
One must-have item to keep in your toolbox is a silicone grease compound. Over time, weatherstrip can dry out and crack. Silicone grease helps keep weatherstrip flexible, and also helps to protect against water and wind leaks. It also helps prevent weatherstrip from freezing to body panels in colder climates.
Weatherstrip Adhesive is another must for any replacement job. It is made of a strong, flexible rubber cement that can withstand vibration and extreme temperature variations. The black color blends well with weatherstrip to form an invisible seal. Most weatherstrip adhesives can also be used to bond paper, cork or rubber gaskets in place during installation.
Several aftermarket companies provide a Weatherstrip Removal & Installation Tool Kit, making the job that much easier. A simple 4-piece kit, like the one available from Mid America Motorworks, enables you to remove your old weatherstrip or install new. These tools are helpful in removing old retainer clips, adhesive and weatherstrip. They are equally useful in guiding the new weatherstrip into place and re-attaching retaining clips during installation.
Weatherstrip Problem Areas
Typically, C3 and C4 Corvettes see the most wear on weatherstrip. If your Corvette has been in storage for a while or has seen lots of road time, there's a good chance that your weatherstrip should be replaced. Still, there are signs you can check to confirm that it's time for an upgrade. Old weatherstrip is easy to identify, because it's typically faded and cracked. Old window and windshield weatherstrip cracks in the corners, particularly in the lower corners. Check there to ensure that moisture doesn't reach the body of your Corvette, causing rust.
When weatherstrip is old, doors, trunks and hatches don't have the same secure closure. Corners of the weatherstrip, especially on hatches, are usually first to show signs of wear or deterioration, as they pull away, shrink or create gaps.
Installation Tips & Tricks
Now that you have an idea of what type of weatherstrip to use, here are a few tips to help you with the project. Before removing the old weatherstrip, compare the new weatherstrip to ensure the size is correct.
- Carefully remove the old weatherstrip and dry fit the new to troubleshoot any possible fitment issues before installing. It's a good idea to keep the old weatherstrip in case you run into issues during installation.
- For continuous pieces, like windshield or hatch weatherstrip, you want to center the weatherstrip for placement. To find the center of your weatherstrip, lay it out on a flat surface, and then fold it in half to find the center. Mark the fold with a piece of tape and place at the center of your windshield.
- For weatherstrip with molded ends, place the ends first and stretch the weatherstrip into the shape of the Corvette. Use masking tape to hold it in place, as the weatherstrip will naturally fit the shape.
- When you're ready to glue the weatherstrip, only glue a small section at a time to ensure that the glue doesn't dry before you get to it.
- To extend the life of your new weatherstrip, apply a thin layer of Silicone Grease or other lubricant on the weatherstrip about twice a year.
Check out our video on the proper installation of C4 rear hatch weatherstripping.