Weather stripping in an old classic or muscle car is a crucial part of keeping your sealed up tight to prevent water leaks, wind noise, rattles, and even rust. Good quality weather strip will make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding these annoying nuisances along with keeping your dream car pleasant to drive. There are a number of different reasons you may have a leak or a wind noise, but these are some of the ways you may determine if your weather strip is bad, poorly installed, or just not the correct application.
To start off determining if you weather strip is bad is fairly easy. You will first want to visually inspect all of the seals around doors and trunk lids. These weather strips are most commonly made from foam. Overtime the foam breaks down, cracks, and falls apart. These areas are pretty obvious. There will be areas that are torn, missing, or cracked. Deteriorating weather stripping will cause wind noises and water leaks. Water leaks that will eventually cause rust and corrosion. This is no doubt, the number one reason to replace.
Other areas that can be critical to preventing rust, leaks and rattles are the window felts. Window felts sometimes called cat whiskers, belt moldings, or window fuzzies ride along the top edge of a door or quarter panel against glass that rolls up and down. These are very important for a couple reasons. The felts help keep water from running directly into the bottom of a door where it will never have a good chance to dry and eventually cause rust. Window felts also prevent all sorts of rattles. The felts help stabilize the glass and prevent it from shaking and moving. In some cases they apply pressure against a glass helping it seal against other surfaces.
Window felt come in couple different forms. A felt backed rubber, a looped felt backed cloth and typical fuzzy nylon material. Just like any old rubber, the felt backed rubber felts dry out, crack and fall apart. A looped felt backed and a typical fuzzy will look smashed and matted down. They also dry out and will feel hard or just fall apart as you run your fingers across them. The felts should be replaced if this is the case with whatever type of felt you have.
Rubber seals are another type of weather strip that should be inspected and replaced when bad. Rubber seals can found around many stationary windows and vent windows. Over time these rubber seals will shrink and pull away from their sealing surfaces. Seals that need to be replaced will also split and crack.
Old wore out weather strip is not always the culprit. Misaligned panels or glass will cause leaks, wind noise, and rattles. If you are having these problems and your weather strip is new or not suffering from any of the problems listed above you classic may be suffering from poorly aligned panels or glass. Not only does the weather strip have to be in good shape but the parts have to fit to it properly. A good test for this is using a dollar bill. For example when testing door weather strip, lay the dollar bill in the suspect area and close the door. The dollar bill should be tight. If it pulls out with little resistance you will end up with wind noise and leaks. I it wants to rip the panel may be adjusted to tight which could make the door hard to close. A good rule of thumb is to have enough resistance to cause the bill to pull tight, but not so much the bill will tear. When doing this try to access as much of the seal as possible working your way around the entire panel. If the seal seems to be pretty consistent throughout then you are in good shape, but if it is extremely tight in one area and extremely loose in another you may have some adjusting to do.
One of other things to consider is the quality of the new seals you decide to use. Weather stripping can come in different densities. Some vehicles require the weather strip to soft and pliable to allow for a door to close properly. Some vehicles may require a more firm weather strip to prevent from rattles and noise. In these cases it is best to consult your local clubs. With so many options a local car club should direct you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the correct brand.
Companies like Steele Rubber and Metro Molded parts have huge assortments of vehicles and applications. They also offer universal extrusions that can be used to replace a premolded weather strip that is no longer available. If your weather strip is no longer available car clubs can also be your best resource when it comes to finding what works and what is available.
Replacing weather strip when completely restoring any vehicle is the only way to go and replacing weather strip on your original to keep the inside dry is a great investment to protect the longevity of your classic. Reducing wind noise, eliminating rattles, and keeping the water out makes driving any old car a more enjoyable event.