How to Change the Window Glass in a Car Door

Automobiles are manufactured today with a much sturdier glass than they were even 10 years ago. Despite this technological benefit, window safety glass is broken thousands of time per day in the United States. Unfortunately, the cost to repair this damage has risen dramatically over the same time period due to the complexities of modern automobile door construction. The average automobile enthusiast can still replace broken door glass provided they have a basic set of automotive hand tools and they follow some straightforward procedures. Doing so will result in hundreds of dollars in saving, as well as provide the opportunity to perform some routine maintenance on the door assembly.


  1. Put on eye protection and work gloves. Clean away all broken pieces of safety glass if door window is shattered. Remove big pieces of glass by hand, then vacuum up any remaining small pieces with a shop vacuum. Be sure to get all the small glass bits that are wedged in various places in the door and throughout the car. A shop vacuum with small odd shaped attachments is very helpful in doing this. Do not roll the window up or down yet; wait until you are sure all broken glass has been removed.
  2. Remove the door access panels and screw hole covers. These are usually held in place with small Phillips screws. Remove any additional covers such as switch panel covers and remote switch covers as applicable. Many covers are held in place with clips, so that they just snap off when pressure is applied in the correct direction. The end result should be a bare door panel with no attachments (covers) remaining.
  3. Vacuum any safety glass particles you come across as you disassemble the door. If you are unsure of proper placement of parts as they are removed, label them with masking tape and a pen. Lower the window so that it is 3/4 of the way open.
  4. Remove any electrical connections from the door switches. Most connections will be of the plug type variety, which just pull free and can only be reattached in one position. These include window switches, power door locks, rear view mirror controls, etc. Mark each switch group with masking tape and a pen if you are unsure how they will be reassembled later.
  5. Locate the door panel mounting bolts (or screws depending on manufacturer). Most door panels use a combination of screws and plastic push fasteners. After all fasteners have been located and removed gently pry up and out to remove the door panel. It may be necessary to twist and turn the panel as you pull it to clear any obstructions. Be sure to disengage any electrical connection clips that are intended to secure electrical wiring to the door panel before pulling too hard. Lay the door panel aside.
  6. Peel back any weather (plastic) insulation. Remember how it was installed. Locate and remove any door strengthening support bars. These generally run vertically or horizontally across the interior side of the door frame, and are held in place with medium sized bolts. Vacuum carefully the entire interior of the door frame, and remove any stubborn glass pieces by hand.
  7. Insert the new glass in the door via the largest access in the door frame, or via the glass channel in the top of the door (depending on manufacturer). Lay the glass in the proper position on the glass support arm. Carefully begin reassembling components in the reverse order of their removal. Apply lubrication (very small quantity) to any moving mechanical components such as sliding levers as a maintenance precaution.
  8. Test the window for full operation before reassembling the door access panels and screw hole covers. If satisfactory, complete the reassembly.