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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My sister's '99 L (Blackeye) was rejected by Safelite Auto Glass Shop for a windshield installation about one month ago. The reason is that there was too much rust found around the windshield, behind the molding. Safelite's policy allowed for up to 24 sq-in of rust removal with a grinder, but if more rust than that was encountered after removing the windshield, they would refuse to re-install the glass, and would require the owner to tow the car to a body shop for work.

To their credit, they informed us of this in advance, before removing the windshield and stated that upon inspection they thought there was more than 24 sq-in of rust (based on what they saw just peeking behind the molding). I'm happy that they warned us, because as a result, I decided to just pull the windshield myself and check it out, to see if we might be lucky and be able to avoid the body shop ($$$). My body skills are pretty limited, so I was half-thinking the Rav would end up in a shop, but it turned out to be something that I (and I think most people with the space, tools, and time) could handle.


In summary, I removed the windshield, removed the rust, treated the surfaces with POR 15 everywhere, filled three small holes with JB Weld, treated with more POR 15, painted, clear-coated, and then had the car towed to a glass shop for a new windshield. The repair was accepted without qualification, and the shop installed the new windshield with full warranty. I was relieved! This post shows some pictures, and outlines exactly what this particular case required.


If you have this problem, get on it right away, because rust will only get worse. This post documents what I did, but will not be a fix necessarily for any other case. Windshields in unibody vehicles (like our Ravs) are structural elements, meaning that they have a role in protecting the occupants in case of a wreck, especially a rollover. The urethane bonding between the windshield and the body is usually what prevents the windshield from failing in such events (where "failing" usually means "popping out"). But if there is rust, the rust can become a failure point if it reduces the section such that it fails, or interferes with the bonding of the urethane to the body.

If the pinch weld is severely rusted, the only proper repair would be to cut it out completely and weld in a replacement length. This would be expensive, but necessary if the rust has compromised the integrity of the section. But if the rust isn't too bad, you may be able to remove the rust and treat the surfaces with a high-grade rust inhibitor (such as POR 15) to get a little more life out of the vehicle. There is the chance (really, a likelihood) than the rust will eventually return, however, because you may have rust on places where you cannot treat, such as the underside/inside of the panels. Rust is very difficult to mitigate on a very long term basis, but you might be able to borrow just a little more time. Here in Colorado and the West, we get a break, but you all to the East aren't so lucky.


First, here are some pictures of the rust, as visible before any work began. Again, these pictures and repair refer to my case, and yours might be better or worse. I had noticed the rust on the passenger side A-pillar before and knew it was bad, but I didn't realize there was quite as much rust in other places until I removed the molding. The rust was apparently caused by an improper previous windshield install that both failed to properly position the glass (too low), and scratched the paint without re-coating during the repair, allowing water to reach the bare metal. My sister has owned the car in '05, and the windshield was replaced by the previous owner.

After removing the molding (trim), I could see much more rust. This trim is not something that holds the windshield in place, or prevents water leaks -- that is all ensured by the bond of the glass to the urethane, and the urethane to the body. The trim is just for a cleaner look:

After removing the molding, I removed the windshield. You must remove the windshield wiper arms and cowl, at least, to remove the windshield, because you have to cut the urethane which is hidden under the cowl, and the wiper arms must be removed to remove the cowl. This is a good time to Plasti-Dip your cowl, if its faded, since you have it off.

- I also removed the hood so I could stand on the frame parts by the cowl to give me better access to the rust on the top, and I removed the fenders so that I could more easily access the corners without scratching the fenders while working with the angle grinder.

- The wiper arms are easily removed with a wrench (12mm, I think) and some wiggling, but before you remove them, make match-marks so that you can re-install them correctly on the splines (if they aren't correctly installed, you'll have to just remove them and keep moving over, one spline at a time, till you have them correctly placed again).

- The cowl is removed with a few screws and some plastic pins that are likely to break upon removal and that aren't necessary to re-install.

- The fenders are removed with several bolts, and you have to remove the bumper to reach some of these.​

I used a tool from Harbor Freight to remove the windshield. This tool worked quite well, though I had to sharpen it a few times...and then it broke. At least it got me far enough, and I was able to finish cutting the urethane by enlisting a helper and sawing back and forth with some 20-lbs fishing line that we happen to have. In order to do this "sawing" technique, you have to remove some interior trim (the trim by the A-pillars). I had to remove this trim anyway, along with the visors and rear-view mirror to lower the headliner, because I was going to be grinding and needed to protect the cab from dust and metal bits, and I would be painting, as well.

- You can remove the A-pillar trim just by prying with your hands, though you might lose one of the metal clips. If so, get a magnet and reach inside the frame through a hole to retrieve it.

- The sun visors are easily removed by first completely removing the two screws on the hinge, then pulling the unit down.

- The sun visor clip is held in by a screw.

- The rear-view mirror is held in place by two screws which are hidden behind the trim piece.​

Once the glass was removed, I then removed all the remaining urethane by scraping and peeling. It was pretty well shot and very dry. The urethane from the top portion of the windshield had rust flakes stuck to it.

Next, I got to work removing the rust. I used a poly-carbide disc and an angle grinder, and this worked very well. I had to use a knotted wire stainless disc to get into some spots. These two discs are all I needed.

After the grinding and some final sanding for rust removal, I coated the entire area with two coats of POR 15. POR (Paint Over Rust) 15 is a urethane product designed for rust inhibiting. It works quite well, but its expensive. I got the "starter kit" for about $25 on Amazon, and that included the metal prep spray and cleaner, and just a 4 oz can. However, the stuff goes on very, very well and you hardly use any to cover a coat. I ended up using the whole 4 oz can because covered a larger area and put quite a few coats on. Follow the instructions, and I also talked to a representative from the company for advice with the project, and they were very helpful.

There were three areas which had developed small holes from the rust, and these areas needed special treatment. I spoke with the POR 15 people regarding the best procedure, as well as two body shop guys. I coated the area of the holes with two coats of POR 15, and used a Q-tip to get as much to the underside as I could. After the POR 15 cured, I filled the holes with JB weld and allowed another full 24 hrs for the JB weld to cure. I then sanded down the JB Weld, and coated with areas again with POR 15 as I went around the whole windshield doing the final coats.

Any POR 15 that is exposed to UV (sunlight) must be top-coated. I just used black spray paint, and coated with clear coat. The paint will likely need to be re-coated in a few years, but not the POR 15. The final result of my painting turned both A-pillars black, as well as about three inches of the roof along the windshield.

I sanded the POR 15 on the pinch weld a bit, just to rough up the surface where the windshield urethane would be adhereing, and had Blackeye towed to the glass shop. I talked to the installer about the repair. The glass shop accepted the work, and installed the windshield with a full warranty (total price for the glass and install was $204). It looks great, just in time for winter!

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