Classic Car Rubber Seals: Your Questions Answered

VW Golf Mk2 Roof Rubber
Unless you drive a Rail Buggy or ride a VW powered trike you will have a windscreen, window seal or door rubber somewhere on your classic vehicle. We stock hundreds of different seals and often get asked about removing the old ones or fitting the new versions. So, we've compiled together a list of 10 questions we frequently get asked about classic car rubber seals. Hopefully, our answers will be of use.

1. How to fit chrome trim to car window seals

From our experience when fitting plastic chrome trim to window rubbers, it is best to fit the rubber to the glass first. Then install the chrome trim using the correct window seal trim tool (for the profile and material of the trim) and then finally fit the whole thing into to the vehicle aperture. If you are working with an aluminium trim it would be wise to do a mock-up of the seal and glass to the car first, then lay the trim over the top to check it doesn't need the shape massaging, before taking it out and installing the trim properly. This might take a little longer to start with but will save you time overall, as once the metal trim is installed the seal becomes much trickier to manipulate into place.

2. How to remove Golf Mk2 Roof Rubbers

With these roof rubbers no longer available new, enthusiasts carrying out restorations are having to remove their old ones even more carefully or source good used replacements. We spoke to Matt at Mk2 Spares UK for some insider knowledge and he revealed his well-proven method for removing Golf Mk2 roof rubbers. "I start by boiling a kettle" he laughs "and then starting at the rear of the car I pour boiling water all over the roof rubbers and down to the A-pillar." Whilst the rubbers aren't stuck on, the heat helps to revive and loosen up the rubbers ready to be released. "With a small flat blade screwdriver, I slightly lift the back of the seal above the tailgate, until the first clip cracks. Next, with the door open, I use my fingertips to work the edge of the seal slightly lifting it, but from the lower end of the A-pillar."

Taking a roll of masking tape, Matt applies several strips to protect the paint on both the upper and lower sides of the trim. "The next stage requires a slightly larger flat-bladed screwdriver and working on the roof side of the trim, levering the clips, which are located around 85mm intervals. Once the clips are cracked, you can get your fingers under the lower edge of the roof gutter and work front to back lifting it slightly free of the car." Matt then masks the A-pillar before cracking two more clips, approx 100mm apart, withdrawing the seal from the top of the front wing and then walking back towards the rear of the car with the seal in hand. And there you have it... "Refitting is the same in reverse. Only you'll need new Mk2 Golf roof gutter clips, some petroleum jelly to keep things moving and a rubber mallet to tap it into place!"

3. Are Porsche sunroof seals the same as VW?

Despite sharing a whole heap of parts throughout the ages, Porsche and Volkswagen kept their sunroof seals to themselves. So, no you can't fit a Golf GTI sunroof seal to your 911 or 944. Likewise, a 356 sunroof seal is different from the version you'll find in a VW Beetle.

4. Which VW Beetle Bonnet Seal do I need?

There are two main options for fitting a bonnet seal to a VW Beetle, and it all depends if your car still has the metal bonnet seal channel attached. If you do, an original beetle bonnet seal or standard 1303 bonnet seal can easily be fitted. If you don't, the later Mexican Beetle style 'clip-on' seal is the best option. These, as the name suggests clip onto the bonnet itself. The drawback here, is that they can't fit along the hinged side, the top nearest the screen. This must be remedied by glueing on a section of the original rubber or refitting the seal channel for the original rubber to fit into.

5. Why are VW Type 2 side window seals different?

There are two different types of Type 2 side window seal (Not counting those that are designed for sliding or opening windows or to accept deluxe trim). The first is for vehicles with factory-fitted windows installed. They have recessed metal window lips and the glass is flat which allows for a 'traditional' rubber seal to be fitted. You can spot these when you look along the side of the vehicle, as they sit inwards from the body. The second type is a 2 part seal for converted vans. Firstly the rubber is fitted to a piece of curved glass and then fitted into the hole cut in the side of the van. This is then kept in place by inserting the second piece of rubber, called a filler, into a groove that runs all the way around. This pushes the main seal outwards gripping both the glass and the bodywork more tightly. As there is no recess when you cut a window shape into the side of a panel van, the windows sit slightly proud. It is possible to source deluxe window seals in the case of factory fitted windows. These seals can be fitted with a plastic chrome effect windscreen trim, which is fitted as described earlier in FAQ 1. Sadly this plastic trim won't work as a filler for the 2 part seal, as it is the wrong profile. A similar principle applies to Type 25 window seals.

6. What is a Cal-Look Rubber Seal?

Made popular by the 'less is more' Cal look car builders of the sixties and seventies, Cal-Look rubbers are the chunkier, plain black rubber seals that do away with the chrome deluxe trim. They are purposeful, and simply for holding the glass in place. However, this function over form ethos became a style statement of its own and just like the cars themselves, shows no sign of slowing down.

7.  Can I fit a non-bonded screen to my Mk2 Golf G60 or Rallye?

In short, yes. Whether you are wanting to do this for financial or practical reasons, you can do away with the G60 and Rallye bonded windscreen and replace it with the more typical Golf Mk2 windscreen glass and Golf Mk2 windscreen seal should you want to.

8. Tips for fixing a leaking aftermarket sunroof

Back in the 80s, everyone wanted a 'sunshine roof' and a selection of specialists popped up providing this luxury addition to dealerships and customers directly. At the time spare parts were plentiful, but as the years have passed supply has dwindled and owners with these glass roof-screens have been left to fend off the elements by themselves. Driving a car with a wet interior is miserable, so owners will do all they can to keep water ingress to an absolute minimum. This means they'll often resort to unsightly gaffa tape or bathroom sealant to keep the drips from falling on their dome. If your roof still opens, you can extend its life by installing a piece of cord or string between the sunroof frame and the rubber seal. This elevates the seal, pushing it against the glass and creating a better barrier to the wind and rain outside. Another benefit is visually this looks far nicer than a botch job with tape or mastic.

9. My new headlamp glass seals are too small.

This is a common comment following a customer receiving brand new headlamp reflector to glass seals for their VW Beetle or Bus. It is obvious they are smaller than the lens they are designed to fit onto, but being made of rubber they stretch and once in place form a tight seal around the edge of the headlamp lens. So, if you receive a half size headlamp seal, don't panic!

10. What glue should I use for fitting door seals?

If you have a classic car where the door seals are attached to the door itself, rather than fitting over a lip around the door aperture then you may be wondering what method you should use for securing them in place. We've found the best method if some extra stickiness is required (some seals will hold themselves in place of their own accord) is to use a good quality contact adhesive. Dab a small amount on the seal and spread along the contact area, and then do the same on the door frame itself. Follow the instructions on your chosen glue, but typically wait a minute or so, for it to become tacky and then press the two surfaces together. If you are prone to getting messy we'd suggest spending 20 minutes with a roll of masking tape first to protect any paintwork and chuck a rag over your dash and carpet to catch any drips. Hopefully, we have covered at least one topic in our ten that is of some relevance to your VW or Porsche project. If you have further questions, then please do ask in the comments below, or get in touch with our team for a bit of advice about a particular product you may want or need. Andy
7 months ago
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