When it comes to vehicle entry, the word “wedging” seems to mean different things to different people. To some, it’s just a part of the job, and to others, it’s something to be avoided at all costs. I suspect that those who avoid wedging have either broken a car window or fear that they...
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Rubber wedges deform like the wooden wedges, and they are unlikely to break a window unless the user gets really carried away. The down side to rubber wedges is that they pick up and hold dirt and grit which could scratch the glass. This is especially the case if you dump your wedges into a tool box along with your other tools. Any oil that gets onto the wedge seems to turn the wedge into a dirt magnet. If you have any metal shavings in your tool box, these will also stick to the wedge and could easily scratch a window.
Regardless of which wedge you choose, the technique of using the wedge will be about the same. Your first job is to get the tip of the wedge positioned between the glass and the weather stripping. This can be as easy as using your fingernail to pull out the weather stripping, or require the use of a plastic shim. Personally, I prefer to use a plastic shim, as shown in photo 3, because most vehicles today use multi-layer weather stripping.
On a car equipped with multi-layer weather stripping, there are one or two more layers of weather stripping below the layer that you see. If you just pull out on the top layer and then shove your wedge into the door, you will wind up rolling the lower layer(s) of the weather stripping under your wedge (photo 4). If that happens, you are making your job harder than it needs to be. When the lower layer rolls, it effectively tightens the fit between the weather stripping and the glass. If you continue to push down on the wedge after the weather stripping rolls, you can even damage the weather stripping.
To deal with multi-layer weather stripping, I use a thin plastic shim inserted between the glass and all of the layers of the weather stripping. Then I slide my wedge into the door between the shim and the glass. The shim holds the weather stripping back out of the way of the wedge and eliminates the possibility of rolling the lower layers. You can buy a shim like the one shown in photo 3 or you can make your own from a variety of commonly available items. Hotel key cards also work well and they’re free if you travel much.
Another factor about wedging that is often overlooked is that you can generally open a wider gap at the center of the window than at the edges. There is simply more “give” the further you get away from the window tracks. That doesn’t mean that you can’t wedge near the edges of the glass; it just means that you have to be more careful when you do. I’ll often insert my wedges a few inches away from where I actually need to be with the tool and then angle the tool to reach what I’m after, just to give me more room to work with the tool. If you have to wedge near the window track, like on the late model GM trucks, be certain that you shim the weather stripping and that you don’t use too much pressure on the wedge.
Inflatable wedges (photo 5) are a poor substitute for a traditional wedge when opening a gap between the glass and the weather stripping. Most inflatable wedges are too limp to get them deep enough into the door to do a good job. If you don’t insert an inflatable wedge deep enough, it tends to just squirt out of the door as you inflate it. Even if you have a wedge with a stiffener inside, like the one shown at the left in photo 5 that can be easily inserted into the door, there is very little feedback about how much pressure you are applying as you inflate the wedge. It’s way too easy to put too much force on the glass with an inflatable wedge. Where inflatable wedges earn their keep is in wedging open a gap between the door and the door frame, so that you can insert a long reach tool.
There are basically two different types of door construction and they need to be treated differently. First the traditional type of door construction features a solid frame all the way around the window; that type of door is known as a sash-style door. Then we have doors where there is no frame around the top and rear edge of the glass; that type of door is known as a sashless door.
A sashless door requires special care and extremely gentle handling if you were to attempt to wedge it out at all.
Before using a long-reach tool on a car with sashless windows, consider the following factors before you begin:
- Does the car have indexing glass?
- Does the window have tempered glass or laminated glass?
- If the window is not indexing, how tight does it fit along the top edge?
- How far out will you have to wedge the glass in order for your tool to clear the trim?
Don’t rush this job. Remember that you are working on an $80,000 vehicle