Q: How do I deal with my door weatherstripping - the whistling noise drives me crazy while I am cruising down the freeway?

A: There are a few variables. There are multiple seals and there are vehicles with chrome trim strips and vehicles without them. Here we will try to map out the various plans of attack. The most common seals that wear are the outer window scraper (Driver,Passenger) and the main felt channel that runs up the back of the glass and across the top. In most vehicles, these two parts (per door) contribute to most if not all of the wind noise, the rattle of the glass when it is slightly open, and the intrusion of water into the door when it rains. These seals are easy to replace. You can remove the old ones by simply prying them out with a screw driver and pop the new ones in by lining them up and then tapping them in with your hand - no special tools and no fancy mechanical abilities. This is straight forward if you have a vehicle that does not have the chrome trim strip that circles around the perimeter of the door glass (ones with the chrome strip we will discuss in the next paragraph). You can, however, get more in depth and replace more seals. There is the inside window scraper (D,P), the wing window seal(D,P), the forward vertical felt channel that lays in the rear of the wing window frame, and there are the door perimeter seals if you intend to fully restore the rubber weatherstripping parts on your doors. These parts are all still available, so it is wise to thoroughly inspect all of the seals in your doors before ordering as each vehicle will show varying degrees of wear and tear on these various seals.

Chrome Trimmed Vanagons

But I have that chrome strip so where does that leave me? Again there a number of items to discuss. If you retain the chrome strip then you have to buy special weatherstripping parts that are harder to find and more expensive but have an extra groove in them to accept the chrome strip. Keep in mind that they do not come with the chrome strip, but simply allow your original chrome strip to still be utilized, so if you choose the path of keeping them, make sure that they are still in very good shape. Purists may want to retain these strips but they really don't add much visual flare to the vanagon, and I think they look cleaner without them. Should you be willing to jettison them, you have two options. You can carefully and cleanly cut the strip as it passes the wing window frame on the top and bottom with a hack saw or die grinder so that it only remains for the area around the wing window and then install the two common parts that are discussed above (the outer window scraper and the felt channel). You might think that it looks weird to only have part of the chrome trim, but it looks perfectly natural. The other option is to replace the wing window seal (style designed to be used without the chrome strip) in addition to those two parts listed. That would eliminate the need for any chrome strip, but the wing window seal is an extra expense, more difficult to replace, and is usually not worn.

Tips for Chrome Trimmed Vanagons

While I am giving you chrome strip people some economical hints, I have another tip. If you have the chrome strip door windows then you also have those unsightly plastic trim moldings in all of your regular window seals for all of the rest of the Vanagon. They are likely discolored and cracked. Maybe they looked nice when the car was new but 15 to 20 years down the road they sure seem like a dumb idea. Don't pull them out, your windows will be loose and the seals will leak as they keep tension on the seals to keep them snug. We recommend taking a can of black paint and a small paint brush and going around the van, and just painting all of them black. They blend in with the rubber this way and your eye won't even pick up on the cracked ones or ones that are missing chunks unless you look for them. Certainly if at some point you are replacing the windshield or any of the other windows, or you are getting a paint job, then it will make sense to replace the rubber with non-trim strip window rubber, but until then the $5.00 fix removes the eyesore.