Windshield, fixed body glass, gen'l glass questions (no door/hatch glass)


New member
Not sure if this should fall under interior or exterior, but since the film goes on the inside, I'll opt for interior.

I have an 82 Westy, bought about a month ago. This site has been a wealth of information, so I thought I would throw this question out ...

Has anyone tinted their windows? Good or bad results? Was it difficult, or did you have a shop do it? Cost?

Being in CA, I can only tint windows behind the driver/passenger sides. I wasn't thinking limo black or anything, maybe just a medium gray, or even a mirror-ish tint. Just enough to discourage peeping, yet let in enough light and keep the interior from prematurely fading.

TIA for experiences and opinions ...
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Capt. Mike

I'll opt for Exterior since that's where other window questions are started.

First thing I'll recommend is you NOT try a do-it-yourself kit. 95% look like H in a few months, don't work well and are one heck of a lot of work to do half-way right. I've done several upper windshield tint strips and every one was a nightmare. Go to a pro! The results will be well worth the money.

I chose Solar Gard titanium type. Available in several tints, the heat reflection is still great. They have about 3 levels of tint, the lightest being DoT legal for front side windows and rear. They even certified that with a sticker inside the tinted section.

Mine's now been in place 10 years and except for a couple of minor scratches I put in through negligence, is as good and clear as the day it went in. NO bubbles, streaks or peels. Works very well in keeping things cool without looking like a mobster limo. I chose medium for the side glass except light on the front doors & rear window to be legal. Visibility out is excellent.

I haven't confirmed Solar Gard Int'l, Inc. in a long time. Last I had was 10801 75th St. North; Forest Industrial Park; Largo, FL 34647. I used Coastal Energy Saver, Wilmington, NC 919-392-6860. The job took less than 2 hours. Back then, it cost $128 and they even did the sections behind the cabinet. 6-year warranty. My next tint job will go right back there.

There are some condition to consider after you tint. One is scratches. Obviously, depending on quality, they can be damaged. The pro materials will be far less likely to scratch. The discount auto store junk peels and wrinkles at the drop of a hat.

There may be some care conditions after installation. Solar Gard cautions not to wash for 30 days (until it sets) and to then use only a soft cloth and a mild dishwashing solution instead of the ammonia & alchohol based cleaners.


New member
Yes, go with a pro, most definitely! I had my Dodge Status done by a pro when I bought it back in 1996, and I LOVED it.

Too many home-jobs look just like heck. It's worth the extra $$$ to have it done right. Besides, a good job adds to the value & improves the appearance of a vehicle, while a slop-job does just the opposite.

[ 06-17-2001: Message edited by: erifah ]


New member
It's a little late but I'm new and just reading through all of the topics. I tinted my windows while living in Florida and it was the best thing I have done to my Westy. It is great for camping.

Get high quality tint and go to an experienced pro. Westys are much more difficult to do than a regular minivan.

Capt. Mike

Transferred from other posts to consolidate topic.

Windshield Seals & Weatherstrips

ChrisJ Junior Member # 503 posted 12-02-2000 01:10 AM

I have a 90 Westfalia, can anyone suggest where to look if I were going to replace all of the windown seals? It's being repainted, the windshield needs replacing and the back door needs body work and the window's probably not going to make it. They're getting rotty-looked through the messages and hadn't seen anything. Thanks.

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 12-02-2000 06:45 AM

The subject has been covered in Archives but is worth repeating. Failure of a window seal can cause hidden rust that will turn into a serious cancer that is very expensive to repair. Thus I recommend all glass replacement be done by a professional with a warranty. This days, there are so many mobile ones out there, the costs have become quite reasonable. They have superior sealants, the special tools needed, and let's face it, a LOT more experience and presumably skill. I'd investigate them much like any other shop -- perhaps getting suggestions from the premium paint shops in your area. (They rarely do their own windows, subcontracting that out.)
From 1986 on, VW recommends the windshield seal be cut to remove and replaced with a new one -- less strain on the glass. I wouldn't consider re-using one even if saved -- it will have hardened and pose a much higher risk of future leaks. Since it will also have sealant on it, removal of all traces is next to impossible anyway, leaving irregularities that may cause more leaks.

Detailed instructions are given in the Bentley, Sections 64.3-64.5.

If your question is "Where?" for parts, see your dealer. Most "Where can I get?" questions are deleted as 'wanted' unless VERIFIED as 'No Longer Available' from VW. Exceptions might be restoration materials or solutions & procedures to non-VW part matters. Bargain hunting is outside the scope of the technical boards. Please patronize our site sponsors when shopping aftermarket.

Window seals w/ molding problem

dajabr, Junior Member, 05-04-2001 01:19 PM

I have an 84 westy with window seal molding that is rather ugly mud brown cloudy crud, used to be chrome... and I want to take off. I went ahead and yanked off the rear window stuff and it looks a whole lot better. Question is: does this affect the seal or hold on the window, any leaks etc? The channel that held the molding looks like it doesn't go through the seal. Wouldlike to know before I do the rest. Anybody do this before? Leaks? Did your Windows fall out? Exhaust gases get in? Enough gap for Aliens to abduct passengers? or let Santa in? ...Anything?

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 05-06-2001 07:33 AM

The channel to hold the chrome trim is generally not part of the seal, but may affect it's long-term ability to avoid distortion. As the seal can now collapse into the void left by removal of the trim, the seal could be compromised. Or the reverse, dirt and or other pressure, say from freezing water, could eventually cause the seal to lose integrity.
There are, for most models of VW, non-trim versions of the weatherstips available. These 'black-out' weatherstrips are preferable. OE and OEM are available for most Westies.

dajabr Member # 774 posted 07-16-2001 10:58 AM

FOllow up on the former chrome trim problem...

I used a permanent marker on half of one window to test cover the trim strip (a black Berol 8800). Looks fantastic, just got back from a week at the beach, no running, no fading, no problems at all. About to go at it with a small foam rubber sanding block with a groove to sand the trim before doing the rest, the marker soaks in better on worn and porous trim, and even appears to seal the trim up nicely. Dan

3M weatherstrip adhesive does this stuff really exsist??

van man Junior Member # 23 posted 10-07-2000 03:19 PM

I hear this stuff is the best but can't find it anywhere. I have been to Home Depot, a VW parts place,, and numerous hardware stores and I have not found 3M weatherstrip adhesive. Please tell me where I can find this stuff.

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 10-07-2000 10:29 PM

You look for auto weatherstrip supplies in an auto parts store! Especially one that handles paint & body supplies. Car Quest, NAPA & the like. Most of the auto discount chains like Pep Boys, Advance & Auto Zone also carry it. Go to your nearest body shop & ask where they get theirs.

van man Junior Member # 23 posted 10-08-2000 02:33 PM

Oh yeah AUTO parts right. Thanx

jboldway Junior Member # 333 posted 06-11-2001 09:29 PM

I've got a '85 Westy with chrome strips in the window seals that were all cracked and "rusted." Went to the local hobby store, purchased a can of ModelMaster flat black enamel (1/2 OZ) and a 1/2 ox can of thinner. Diluted the paint to about 70% paint 30% thinner. Brushed this on the cracked plastic "chrome" trim and it wicked its way inside the cracked window trim ring and after 3 coats and an hour later I had the "Euro" black look window trim. Yeah, if you got up close and studied it you would see the cracked plastic and the paint but it made a HUGE difference in the van's appearance for an outlay of about $5. I covered both the trim ring and let it run in areas over the flat black rubber - when the paint was dry you did not notice anything other than the entire strip looking like it was one piece.

Windshield fitting

kombikomer Junior Member # 1196 posted 06-18-2001 05:58 AM

I have a us 1971 westy.I am up to the point of fitting the winshield.the screen is safety glass and the rubber is wcm. Are all us screens laminated as the safety glass and wcm seal won't fit. The laminated screen is 4-5mm lower in height than the safety.
i live in auckland new zealand and I've asked around and no one knows.
Thanks in advance.

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 06-19-2001 08:54 PM

All US & Canadian winshields are laminated; all side & rear windows are safety glass -- the kind that shatters into pebbles. VW did use two different seals back in that era; one with the chrome molding channel (delux) and the other plain. Westies had the plain.

dajabr Member # 774 posted 07-16-2001 10:58 AM

FOllow up on the former chrome trim problem...

I used a permanent marker on half of one window to test cover the trim strip (a black Berol 8800). Looks fantastic, just got back from a week at the beach, no running, no fading, no problems at all. About to go at it with a small foam rubber sanding block with a groove to sand the trim before doing the rest, the marker soaks in better on worn and porous trim, and even appears to seal the trim up nicely. Dan


73betsy Junior Member Member # 3224 posted 01-25-2002 02:41 PM

I ordered a GROVED rbber winshield seal from which is not an adhesive strip but an almost round rubber seal with several grooves. Do I need to remove the windshield to install this and if so is the windshield easy to remove or should I take it to a glass specialist? thanks!!

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 01-26-2002 08:05 AM

What year & model? And with or without chrome trim? See Message Board Guidelines.
Bus Depot sells many types & supplier products, some to OE specs and some not, so I cannot speculate on what you have. See the posts on Bus Depot in the PARTS forum.

Since windshield removal is required to replace the seal, you will find many references and discussion about glass installation elsewhere on the site and a common thread to all is that this, especially windshields, is best left to a commercial installer. The prices are relatively cheap, the work is difficult and requires special tools and skills, and last, a failure can cause leaks & permanent damage. The installer will be able to tell you if your weatherstrip is appropriate and useable and most have a leak warranty.

Plastic tinted windows in the rear

pgabriel Junior Member Posted November 15, 2004 11:27 AM


I have just bought a 1988 Westfalia campervan which was imported from Germany. I love it!
All the rear windows are made of brown tinted plastic. One of them is cracked and i would like to replace it with one of the same if possible. Can anyone advise me of possible suppliers as I have never seen windows like this before on a VW campervan.

I live in the UK. Even a website link would help. I have asked VAG UK but no help. I thought there might be a specialist in Germany I could contact to order a new plastic window.
It is the most rear window on the nearside (drivers side as left hand drive).

Any suggestions would be most welcome!

Thanks in advance


Capt. Mike Tech Writer Posted November 18, 2004 03:40 AM

I've never heard of any Westy being delivered with plastic windows; many markets would not allow it, requiring safety glass. What you have is probably aftermarket installation by a previous owner or conversion.

Are you 100% sure you have plastic window instead of a tinted glass window done with one of the mylar films? You can replace the window with a legit safety glass and have it tinted, probably to approximately the same color.

You can get custom color in a safety glass, but it will be very expensive as the glass has to be cut and then tempered. If you insist on plastic, Lexan, from the fiberglass and plexiglass dealers, is a strong substitute, but still scratches worse than glass. It's available in a variety of colors.


New member
I've seen a few posts regarding the chrome molding on the weatherstrip fading and rusting. New chrome strips can be purchased through some of the online Westfalia parts suppliers. There is a tool called a "locking strip tool," which for me was essential in the successful installation of the chrome strip. Search Google for "locking strip tool," and you should be able to find a retailer that will sell you one online. Mine was $12.90 with shipping. Good luck and good looks to your Westy!

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

littlelancie1 Junior Member posted January 01, 2003 08:37 PM

I have an '82 Aircooled Westy.(American Spec) 2.0L with AC. I have the Bentley Manual.My question is, how do I determine if I have the proper windshield in the van to ship it back stateside? I think it has been replaced and I fear it was done so with a British one. I don't know if this would even pose a problem but I need to be sure before I try to send it back. I haven't contacted anyone here in England yet. I leave in 5 months and am getting everything ready. If I do in fact have to replace this thing can someone help me finder a shipper that is reasonable? I have a stateside mailing address that would allow me to have it sent here.Thanks for the help.

Capt. Mike, I looked all over before posting this K? Great site sir, don't quit on me....

Capt. Mike

There are only 3 types of glass. The first, non-safety, non-laminated is unlikely. Nobody makes those for rounded automotive use anymore.

The US requires laminated windshields. This is double layer glass with a thin layer of plastic in between. It's purpose is to hold the glass together when broken -- avoiding the flying shards for a stone break while underway. You should be able to evidence of the laminations when examining the glass edge. It should also say in the manufacturer's etchings on the glass, though probably in some glass industry code. A experienced auto glass repairman can probably tell in a glance. Since safety glass is inpractical for windshields, it's unlikely anyone would make & install other than laminated for a windshield.

The side windows of most vehicles is safety glass. This is the glass that breaks into thousands of relatively harmless and dull 'pebbles' upon impact. Most safety glass has that mottled look in certain lights. Its edges would not show the lamination. Again, check markings or with a glass man.


New member
the windsheild in my 75' westfalia hay a big crack down the middle of it, i was wondering were would eb the best place to go for a replacement,its not registered at the moment, so i need a good windsheild in order to register it, any help will be appreciated


New member
Most any reputable glass installer should be able to get you a new windshield and install it. They are available now with a tinted strip across the top which is nice for those sunny days.

I thought about installing my own, and then I thought about what it would cost if I screwed it up and the fact that I got a nationwide warrenty; I went with the installer.

One thing you might be interested in is the windshield rubber from BusDepot; supposedly it comes down a little further in the front to cover/ help protect rust damage. When you have your windshield out, inspect the windshield channel closely, especially in the lower corners. This is a design flaw on the bays and it allows water to pool and rust out the channel. If there is ANY rust, clean and treat it (POR15 works well for this) before reinstalling the windshield or it will just get worse.


New member
The purpose of the window rubber is not only to make a water tight seal but does it actually help seat the window into the frame? If so it would probally be a good idea to have a company install it for safety factors and warrenty reasons, thansk for the help Bajatacoma


New member
All of the other glass is really easy to do yourself; it's flat and easy to access (if the closet is out). I know a couple of mechanics and none of them like putting in windshields so I figured I'd pass too.

The other problem area that is prone to rust is the vent wing window on the driver's side rear. You can often look at the plywood (discolored/streaked) on the inside and tell if it has been leaking. Water runs down the pivot and rust it out and then into the window channel. I replaced both pieces on the rear quarter with a one piece window from a transporter- no more leaking!


New member
The post above mentions that "all of the other glass is really easy to do..". If so, how does one go about removing and then reinstalling the rear side windows on an '85 vanagon? I've got a bit of rust that has started on one of the corners on these side windows and I would like to do the sanding myself.

many thanks

Capt. Mike

The windshield removing/installing is shown in the Bentley, §64.3 & §64.4. Although the diagram is labeled for MY 1986>, I think you'll find they are identical to all Vanagons; the parts are the same. I think the shop manual reflects they started using an adhesive in '86 in addition to the older installation, thus why the '86> gaskets must be cut out. I still contend installing glass with seals & sealants is best left to the pros -- with their warranty -- because we amateurs don't get to practice what is often a "by feel" procedure.
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New member
Tinting is really for a pro , but if you like only use quality film that you can only buy from a dealer Solargard or LLumar are great choices while I personally like LLumar .Dont forget your local sign shop . You can get all sorts of cool colored sign vinyl and apply from the outside .Not only is it going to make it cooler inside you get some privacy. I have my 74 westy with tint on front doors and windshield strip and rear back glass , the rest is sign vinyl.On the inside of rear glass you can trim the rubber just a bit to let the film just fall in , use a scrubby on the rear only as not to damage defrosters. try it is a warehouse of info on tinting glass .

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topics.

RCB Super Member Posted February 18, 2005 02:34 PM

Greetings, After pondering the idea of installing new chrome molding, without removing the glass, I woke up in Realityville. It would have been easier giving myself a root canal than installing the molding while the glass was still in place. I took my Westy to a glass shop and for around 200 cash, they removed all the glass,cleaned the rubber and the channel and installed the chrome trim and reinstalled the the windows. Thats the windshield,the four sides and the hatch and that comes out to about $40.00 per window. Im happy with the price and the look and wanted to pass that on to anyone interested....RCB

[Moderator Note: My sentiments exactly -- having done it on other cars. 2nd thought -- replace rubber with the California look of no chrome trim if available and not requiring 100% original factory.]
I hope this is posted in the right section this time. My original post was to ask if the aluminum in the window frame was bendable, so I thought it was a metal material/frame question, and it never occured to me to post it in the windshield and glass section, but I guess the two are intimately related. Anyway, now my question has expanded to include the whole sliding window frame. I don't see any post that has asked this question (at least not here), so I hope it won't be cut this time. I want to install sliding glass windows in the rear side openings (not center side). I think I have 2 options: 1)purchase used center side sliding windows/frames and cut the glass and bend the frames OR 2)purchase rear side sliding glass windows/frames from outside the U.S. Does anyone have an opinion on which is the best option?

The problem with bending and cutting the frames is that it will be tricky and detailed and I don't know how bendable the aluminum is. On the other hand, according to one (and only one) used parts place, the aluminum does bend. If it does, I have a metal fabricator and a glass cutter who think that it can be done relatively easily.

The problem with ordering the non-US sliding window is that I don't know if the frame will fit, it looks different and I don't know how expensive shipping will be. On the otherhand, if it fits, it would be a lot easier to just pop it in. I've located a possible source for the non-US sliding frames in Germany, but am still trying to get in contact with him.

The non-US sliding windows look like the frames are thinner somehow and black instead of silver. I saw a European Vanagon with all 4 of the black thin-framed sliders. It makes the windows look bigger. I also saw one with a set of US type sliders in the center side and a set of the black thin-framed sliders in the rear side! It looked a little odd with the two different types of windows. I guess if someone put the black thin-frames ones in the rear side, they might want to also replace the center side ones with the same type in order to have a more esthetic look.

Thanks for any input,

Capt. Mike

First, this is the Westy site -- we primarily deal with the campers, so our perspective will be along those lines.

What year? Guideline #3! Have you been to your dealer and looked at the parts fiche? According to my ancient one, the door sliding windows, the only ones I've ever seen in any US Vanagon, come in 4 versions -- black & chrome, w/ & w/o screen. The w/o screen ARE different in size and slide.

My fiche shows two w/o screen for the rearmost side windows -- black & chrome. My fiche only shows tinted glass.

The camper comes with cabin exhaust ducts at the rear of the rear windows. First thing you'll have to check is whether the OE ones are sized accordingly -- you may be giving up valuable ducting, more valuable in a camper than a regular bus due to the increased moisture and odors. The design of the ducts uses air-flow dynamics to actually pull air from the inside when underway. (Something a sliding window won't.)

Utilizing a side sliding window and modifying seems to be a Hurculean task. The side sliding window opening is rectangular, approximately 102 cm long overall, with a sliding window of 71 cm that opens 28 cm. The rear fixed window opening is about 86cm at the top and 94 cm at the bottom. About 11 cm less with the vent.

So, besides downsizing frame, you are adding an angle and will drastically limit the amount of slide. All things being equal, you'd probably have an opening of 20 cm -- ~7½" -- without the vent.

Have you sat down and thought about what you are trying to accomplish? Flow through on a Westy is pretty decent with the rear exhaust vents. And it's located behind the cabin, so underway, I don't see a major need.

If you are looking for a few more square inches of ventilation while camping, there are a number of solutions. The rear comes with a factory screen so the htach can be left open camping. GoWesty even makes a latch extender so you can open it just a few inches which would still give way more vent opening than a sliding window, be useable in most rain AND be as secure as the locked rear lid. And you could always add a skylight vent fan to exhaust air and thus pull more air through than any gain from the added sliding windows.

Since sliding windows can't be opened in the rain (they slope in at the top) and you'd have to physically go to the rear cabin to open & close, how many times would they actually be used? Obviously you wouldn't use them with either A/C or heat.

I don't want to advise on modifying the aluminum frame -- Guideline #7. After a year with a factory race team, little surprises me. Yes, it's probably "possible". Fresh framing is available via the antique car restoration industry since they build that stuff from scratch. But practical? Is this "I saw something I thought was cool?" Or "I have a genuine need?"

Thanks for correcting your Member's Profile.
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Thank you for the reply. Your email has been most helpful in enlightening me about the fishe and the different window possibilities, but has me asking a few more questions and is making me wonder why I don't have exhaust ducting.

This is an 84 Westy. If I understand you right, you are saying that I can go to ANY VW dealership and look at the parts fishe to find out what OE was made. Do you know if the fische covers only parts made/sold for the US, or International, also?

Are you also saying that, according to your fiche, they did make "sliding" glass windows, w/o screens only, for US vans? Or perhaps those are the ones sold in Europe? If they did make them for the US, I wonder if they were rare and I'd still have to look overseas for them?

When you say the sliding windows were made in black and chrome, I take it that you mean the window frame was made in black and chrome, and not that the window gaskets were black, and black with chrome trim (this is what my husband thinks that you mean).

It took me awhile to figure out what you were talking about when you talked about the exhaust ducting. The van we bought is a standard Westfalia as far as I can tell - frig, stove, pop-up roof, but it doesn't have any exhaust ducting. The window is about 86cm at the top and 94 cm at the bottom. Are all Westly's supposed to have exhaust ducting? Is the ducting built into the window frame? Is this what you were referring to when you said that the w/o-screen sliding windows are different in size? I guess I need to go see this fishe to figure this out. I'm glad to have found out about the exhaust ducting, but now I'm wondering about why my Westy doesn't have it, and if I should be looking for a window with it or without it, or at this point, just whatever will fit.

Yes, figuring out how to modify the frame seems to be an undertaking, which is why I'd like to find some original sliding windows. On the otherhand, in addition to trying to figure out where to get them and if they are available, I'm now wondering about the exhaust ducting that I don't have, and whether I should have it! The good news is that the metal fabricator said he can modify the center side frames for a reasonable price and without a huge amount of effort on his part, supposedly, as long as the aluminum bends ok. The glass overlap will be cut down and the glass will be cut to match. And I suppose that if I try hard enough I might find sliding windows somewhere, but I've got to do more research before I know where I can get them, if they have ducts, and if I need ducts since I don't seem to have any now.

And yes, the 7" or so, although not ideal for ventilation, will work just fine for my purposes. Thanks for the info on the approximate size that it will be...that's about what I'd figured. I'd never have done this simply for ventilation. I'm actually doing this so for a much crazier reason. I'm doing it so that the dogs will have a window to stick their heads out of. And yes, I'm about as crazy about my dogs as most VW owners are about their vehicles. I'm also trying to avoid the inevitable....all 3 of them (about 130 pounds worth) trying to get into my lap at the same time to put their heads out of the only window available over and over on a long trip without air conditioning. I'm a pushover. And they've already started it.



I think there is confusion over rear "exit" vents spoken about in the above posts. My 86 syncro DOES NOT have any rear exit vents. My sister's 91 Westy multi-van DOES have exit vents built into the rear most windows. I believe that they are on both sides but I can't remember for sure. I have a memory of other rear exit venting on other Westys over the years but I can't remember what, where or when.

My bentley shows little if anything about these vents. Other input might be welcome