Belt Moldings, Scraper Seals, Weather strips or whatever you want to call them, can be a pain to remove and refit.
Even the most experienced panel beaters, or MET techs are prone to breaking them now and again.
The problem is, when you bend or break a belt molding, it’s almost never going to go back on properly. Sure, some slight bend may be fixable using heat, but most of the time it’s going to need replaced.
Replacing these parts will quickly add up, even the biggest bodyshops will begin to notice the increase in expenses.
They’re also super hard to find for older cars, so if you’re doing restoration work, or are working on an older vehicle in general, you want to be very careful.
What Is A belt Molding?
A window belt molding is the rubber, plastic or chrome trim that you’ll find on the car, between the door and the window.
They’re known as many different things in the industry. In the states they’re known as a belt molding, however in the UK, I’ve often heard them referred to as a scraper seal or window weather strip.
In the photo above, I’ve placed an arrow pointing towards the part in question. This will help to clear up any confusion you may have had.
The purpose of this molding is to prevent water from entering the car door. messing with electronics or creating rust spots.
Scraper seals also help to remove water from your side windows when rolled up or down giving you a more clear view of the road.
Why Remove Belt Moldings?
The main reason to remove this molding from your car is to perform a repair, or if you’re painting a car.
In a bodyshop, whenever a car door is being painted, it’s much easier to remove the molding than it is to mask it up and tape it. Removing it will prevent any chance of overspray from happening and save the painter a lot of time prepping.
Another reason would be if you were replacing car windows. If you don’t remove the belt molding and window channel seal, it’s pretty much impossible to get the window out.
These are just two reasons, of course there are many more.
How To Remove Belt Moldings Without Damaging Them
There are a couple of different ways to remove window scraper seals, you’ve just got to try them all out and see what works best for you.
At the end of the day, they’re all pretty similar methods, It’s just a matter of using different tools.
First of all (on most cars), to remove this piece of trim, you’ll need to remove the wing mirror first.
Once you’ve removed the mirror, if you have nails and a strong grip strength, you can remove most using just your hands.
In some cases you may need a trim tool to unclip them, or to start prying it free from the door.
Depending on the car, you may also find some of these moldings are fixed to the door using a bolt or screw. If you look on the back of the molding you’ll be able to find this out for yourself.
Scraper seals are very similar between cars but every manufacturer does them slightly different. When removing them, think about what you’re doing, go slowly and don’t use too much force.
Below is a step by step guide for removing window moldings by hand or using tools.
Using Your Hands
To remove belt mouldings using your hands, you should follow these steps:
- Find an area you can pry – Every molding is different, some will be easy to get your nails under, others wont budge, no matter what you do.
I personally like to roll down the window and see if I can grip the molding from both sides, though some windows will not allow this.
When using your hands, it’s normally easier to start from the left or right side of the molding, but it’s much easier to bend them this way.
- Move The Molding – Again, different brands, different methods.
Once you’ve got a firm grip on the molding, try to pull it up and towards the door (this is the most common way to remove them). With a little force, it should come off. Not too much force though, otherwise it will bend. There’s a happy medium.
The second most common technique is to pull up and wiggle the molding at the same time. After some time, the molding will come free.
Most of the time using tools is going to be the way to go. You’ll always have your toolbox nearby when you’re working, so there’s no excuses!
The best tools to have for removing window moldings are plastic trim tools. These are completely safe to use and wont damage the paint.
Using the trim tools you wont have to roll the window down either!
- Find an accessible area – With your trim tool in hand, try to find an area that you can pry free. Normally you can hook your plastic trim tool between the window glass and the molding, twisting & unclipping it from the door.
Sometimes you’ll have to pry the molding free from the left or right side, but this is much easier with a plastic trim tool than using your hands. Just be careful not to use too much force, accidentally bending it.
- Unclip the rest of the trim – Once you’ve successfully unclipped the middle, the rest should come with ease.
If you’re working from left to right, use a little pressure to your advantage but be very aware. A little too much pressure and you’ll have to replace it.
Belt Molding Removal Tools
There’s a number of different tools that people use to remove belt moldings.
I like to stick to using my hands or plastic trim tools whenever possible. This is because they’re the safest and least likely to damage the paint.
As soon as you bring something metal into the picture, you start running the risk of damaging paint, trims or even your windows.
That said, sometimes you will need to use metal tools. Unfortunately, some clips are too stubborn for the plastic tools and then the metal ones become necessary.
The most common tools used when removing belt modings are:
- Plastic Trim Removal Tools
- V-Shaped Belt Molding Removal Tools
- Metal Trim Removal Tools
- Pick & Hook Sets
Using a combination of these tools, you’ll be able to remove all belt moldings and trims that you require.
There’s No One Way
As much as I’d love their to be one simple way, there isnt.
Unfortunately you’ll have to research the exact method for your car, or spend a couple of minutes figuring it out and hoping that you don’t break the molding.
If you’re someone in the trade, over time you’ll learn how to deal with them and take them off quickly, but it’s something that comes with time and experience.
Having the right tools will always help, but using your brain is the most important.