Sep. 01, 2003 By Rick Sieman

You might notice it as just a slight whistling noise at first. Then, with time, it gets louder and more irritating. Pretty soon, you have a genuine wind roar coming from ... somewhere. And if you're one of the many people who drive a 15 or 20-year-old truck, chances are you'll have a bunch of wind noise that you're forced to live with. Or are you really forced to live with it? Not if you follow the advice we'll give you in this article


Lower door edge seal of this Suburban is a dead giveaway for a wind noise spot. Rather than replace the entire seal, you can cut a small section and glue it in to fill the gap.

As trucks (and all vehicles) get older, the seals, weather stripping and molding tends to become less and less efficient. Rubber molding hardens, cracks, even falls apart. Foam weather stripping crumbles, turns to powder, falls apart, flattens out, and in general, loses all its resiliency.

The results are not only wind noise, but leaks will start to appear and weird rattles will become an irritating part of a normal drive, on-road or off. If you let it go too long, your rig will become a noisy, leaky, windy, rattle-trap.


Just about any place you have a seal is an area that could cause leaks, rattles or wind noise. Here are the places to check:

Door seals on this venerable Ford simply cracked from age, and were beyond repair. Once they start cracking and -~ getting hard, it's replacement time.

Common spot for door seal damage: the lower forward edge of the door opening takes a lot of abuse from shoe contact as people get in and out.

  • Doors: Every vehicle made has some sort of rubber molding that seals the
    door when closed.
  • Wind wings: This is one of the most common spots for wind noise. Latches get sloppy with time, and the seals harden.
  • Trunk/tailgates: The molding here takes some abuse, especially on Sport Utility rigs like Broncos and Blazers. This is a prime source of rattling.
  • Windshields: The rubber molding that holds the windshield in place will harden with time, and let water in during rain or washing. It's also a common cause of "squeaking" sounds that cannot be traced to regular sources.
  • Window and outer belt stripping: "Outer belt"is the term used for seals found on the lower edge of windows, ones that open and close, or fixed windows.
  • Hatches: Many cars and some SUVs have hatches, or lift-up rear doors, that have an elaborate seal. Usually, the hatch is on the heavy side and can contribute to wind noise and rattling when the molding starts to go.
  • Hoods: Some vehicles have molding or rubber bumpers to keep the hood from rattling. If these start to go, a lot of noise can be generated.
  • Camper tops, shells: This is a real serious source of rattles. Since a camper top is heavy and is subject to a lot of twisting from wind and shifting loads, the seal at the base gets distorted easily and should be replaced on a regular basis to keep rattling noise down.
  • Dashboards: Don't laugh. This is a real source of jiggling and squeaking noises. I had a maddening squeak in my GMC crewcab dually I couldn't locate, until, by accident, I pushed on the lip of the dash and the squeak stopped. it didn't take a brain surgeon to proceed from there.


Lift gate molding on a camper shell shows the source of a major rattle, both on-road and off.

On our old truck, we saved some money by using generic weatherstripping to fix our old molding. For a class job, you should use quality aftermarket molding and stripping.

I had a lot of wind noise from the doors on my old '75 Ford truck, and figured it was time to get rid of them. A close inspection of the door molding showed that it was in pretty good shape, so I wondered what in the heck could cause all that wind howling.

A gentle push on the door solved the problem. There was a lot of play. It only took a few minutes to adjust the striker post on the door jam to get the door tightened up. The result was an immediate end of the wind noise at no cost.

Check every seal you suspect for hardening, deforming, cracking, ozone damage, splitting, rotting, hard edges, flat spots, separating, lifting, movement or glue failure.

When checking the windshield seal for leaks, grab a toothpick and insert the tip between the glass and the seal. If it can go in more than a quarter inch or so, chances are the seal will pass water. However, a suspected windshield seal can often be restored by simply cleaning the accumulated debris out of it.

The debris will always collect on the lower edges. That plain old toothpick will work just fine to clean out the lower seal. Dipping the pick in some ordinary grease will help it remove grit and dirt.

Tailgate rubber bumpers can and will-harden with age and lead to big-time rattles. Gluing a small piece of weatherstripping on the face of the bumper is a good short term fix.

Many camper and bed shells have a thick section of rubber molding between the sliding rear window and the bed. These thick moldings take a tremendous amount of abuse, as the bed shifts around. They're very common areas for wind noise, rattling and squeaks.

If the suspected seal looks OK, but you're still wondering about it, you can do a simple check to see if the sealing surfaces are making proper contact. Without full contact, a seal that looks just fine will not do its job.

The trick is to coat the suspect seal with a powder, and then compress the seal. On a door, for example, you could use talcum powder, or even ordinary flour, on the molding. You can apply the powder by a paint brush, or "spraying" it on with a turkey baster. After the molding is coated over its sealing surface, you just close the door firmly, then open it and inspect the seal and the door surface.

Top edges of door molding tend to sag and fall with time. Weatherstripping cement is the key to keeping it in place.

While the glue is drying, the molding can be held in place with a piece of duct tape. Let it dry overnight.

If the seal is working as it should, you'll see a clear mark of powder on the door edge and also see where the powder has been squeezed off the molding. If you find an area where there is little contact, this could be a trouble spot. just because a small portion of the molding makes contact, doesn't mean it'll do its job when the vehicle is under way.

Wind rushing by the seams can push the seal away from the sealing surface (seals don't apply a lot of pressure) and let wind and moisture in. If the seal shows an even contact patch all the way around, chances are it's fine.

The easiest way to check a windshield for leaks is to blast the suspected seals with an ordinary garden hose; the more pressure the better. Don't expect a windshield leak to happen immediately. Water has a way of working its way through a seal via capillary action, which is often aided by vibration. You can speed the process by starting the engine and letting it run while you blast the windshield seals.

Often, a leak will not show up during normal street use, but will happen under off-roading conditions. The reason? Your off-road rig is subjected to harsh twisting forces due to the rough terrain. Cruising to the local 7-1 1 is not exactly a stressful situation. In many cases, something like a door seal can be fine, but loose mounting bolts on the door hinges can prevent the door from seating solidly, or the mounting bolts can be snug, but the door may be misaligned. Again, careful checking is a must.

You can check molding and weatherstripping to see if it's seating correctly by blowing on a light powder.

Then, after closing and opening the door, you can see the pattern left by the sealing surface. If it's even, you're in good shape. High and low patterns will indicate a problem.

To check for rattles and squeaks, simply apply pressure to the suspected area, and listen. If you push hard on a door or tail gate, and it squeaks, it will make noise when you drive. A real acid test is to jack one side of the vehicle up in the air (with the jack on the frame rail), and then do the pushing and tugging movements on the suspected areas. Remove the jack, install it on the other side, and repeat. This duplicates some of the twisting forces you might normally encounter during off-road use.


If the molding or trim is in good shape, but not secured properly, you can simply re-glue it. There are several good adhesives made specifically for this purpose, with the grandaddy of them all being 3M Weatherstrip cement.

You can add a layer of ordinary foam weatherstripping to just about any molding or sealing surface. Done right, it can get rid of all the annoying noise and jiggling.

Weak spot: wind wings in older trucks should be a prime suspect if you're hunting for wind noise.

Important tip! Do not try to use any sort of glue or adhesive in cold conditions. Let your rig sit in the sun, or do your work in a warm garage, until the metal surfaces are warm to the touch. Glues applied to cold surfaces will hold at first, then start to lose their grip when the temperature changes. Moisture will appear between the glue and the metal surface, and sooner or later, you'll be back to ground zero.

Always clean the area properly, taking care to remove any old hardened glue or cement. I find that regular old lacquer thinner works well, but make sure you don't rub too hard and start removing the paint. Contact cleaner works, too. If you don't want to use any powerful chemical cleaners, a scouring pad and cleanser will do the job nicely, but it will require time and energy. If the glue (or cement) has hardened badly and chemicals don't seem to cut it, then get a hair drier out and apply heat to the area. The heat will often soften the cement, and then the chemicals can do their job easier.

Do not use super glues to hold molding in place. Some types of molding and weatherstripping react badly to super glues, and it can make them harden and crack, or will actually "eat" through the surface, ruining
the molding.


For a beater truck.or an economy fix, you can always run down to the local
hardware store and pick up some basic foam weather stripping. You can get it
many widths and thicknesses, and most of them come with adhesive backing.

Do the old "toothpick check" to see if your windshield seal is tight.

To repair a leaking windshield seal, use the ultra-light clear silicone seal made specially for that task.

Thin strips are handy for sealing off wind wing vents, and the thicker ones work well around doors. Often, you can can just add some weather-stripping
To the existing stuff on your vehicle, and it'll do the job. At least for a while. Don't expect the foam to last like rubber molding, but it's a decent short-term fix.

Once you have the stripping or molding installed(or the old stuff repaired), it's a good idea to do a little bit of preventative maintenance. To extend the
Life of rubber, consider coating it with a preservative like Armor-All. To keep from making a mess, instead of spraying the preservative on, apply it with a small paint brush.

If you can't seem to locate the source of your windshield leak, simply blast the area with a hose, while the engine is running.

For leaking windshields, you can squeeze in some silicone made specifically for that purpose. It's a lot lighter than regular silicone, and very runny. You should carefully squeeze a small amount in the leaky areas, and wipe off any

If the rubber molding has pulled away from the glass and left a big gap, put the windshield sealer I, then tape the molding down with duct tape. Leave it on overnight, and if any silicone has squeezed out, it can be removed easily from the glass with a razor blade, and peeled off the rubber by hand.

Congratuations! You have now now made your vehicle air tight, water-free and vibration resistant. Newsletter
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