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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Indexing glass is a relatively new system that uses the power window motor to force a tight seal between the top edge of the glass and the weather stripping. Before the door can be opened, the power window mechanism drops the window glass slightly, and after the door is closed, the same mechanism raises the glass and forces it tightly into the weather stripping or sometimes into a slot along the edge of the roof. If the window fits into a slot or the fit is very tight, the glass will probably break before you can open a gap wide enough to insert your tool.
All cars sold in the United States have been required to have “Safety Glass” for decades and almost all of them use tempered glass for the side windows. Windshields have traditionally used laminated glass and we all have seen what happens when a windshield gets a small crack or chip.
Recently, thanks to new manufacturing techniques, some cars started using laminated glass in the side windows. If you accidentally chip the edge of one of these windows, there will soon be a crack extending across the window.
Fortunately, any laminated window will be labeled like the one shown in photo 6. If you don’t see the word “laminated” in the stencil on the glass, you can assume that the glass is tempered. If you know that you are dealing with a laminated window, you will just have to be extra careful with the edges of the glass, or use a different method to unlock the vehicle.
Before indexing glass arrived on the scene, many manufacturers had found a surprisingly simple way to assure a tight fit along the top edge of the glass. On cars like the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Toyota Celica, the window track is built so that it pivots slightly as the door is opened. This allows the glass to sag a few degrees toward the car as the door is opened. As the door is closed, the upper portion of the glass contacts the weather stripping first, causing the top edge of the window to move up against the weather stripping along the top of the door opening. This drives the top edge of the glass firmly against the weather stripping and locks it in place until the door is reopened or the window is lowered.
If you attempt to wedge out a window built this way, you will find that it has very little “give.” Lubricating the upper edge of the glass with a silicone lubricant or dishwashing soap may help you open a larger gap, but you will still have to be careful.
Another factor that gets overlooked all too often is the trim around the outside of the window. Quite often there is a raised lip around the top and rear of sashless windows to guide water away from the door opening when the door is open. If you try to use a long-reach tool on these vehicles, you will have to pull the glass out far enough that your tool will not damage the trim. The Nissan 350Z (photo 7) is a perfect example of this and it is also equipped with indexing glass, which is why I would never attempt to use a long-reach tool on the 350Z.
I’ve seen the inflatable wedges promoted for use on sashless windows, and properly used, they work well for that purpose. But, the lack of feedback to the user coupled with the tremendous force that can be generated with an inflatable wedge make me very cautious when I use one on a sashless window. I use the absolute minimum amount of inflation and constantly watch and listen for signs of stress on the glass. I personally prefer the wedges that have a push-button valve because I can release the pressure very quickly if see or hear anything I don’t like. In fact, as I inflate the wedge, I keep my thumb positioned over the button just in case.
Sash style doors, on the other hand, have lots of strength and the window is well protected. I use inflatable wedges on sash-style doors almost casually. I still pay close attention to what the wedge is doing, and I still hold my thumb over the button on the valve, but I don’t worry about the glass.
When using an inflatable wedge on sash-style doors, the major concern is the trim. Honda vehicles are notorious for using plastic trim on both the door and the door pillars. If you are not careful, you can pop off or crack the plastic trim using nothing but an inflatable wedge. I don’t know what damaged the plastic trim on the car in photo 8, (I spotted this car in a parking lot and photographed it with my phone, ) but it could easily have been an inflatable wedge.
Don’t rush this job. Remember that you are working on an $80,000 vehicle