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Install Auto Molding Yourself -- Eliminate Door Dings


Prevent most minor dings, paint-chips and body blemishes that can happen when someone parks next to you, opens their door and whacks your vehicle. Many vehicles had factory-installed decorative/protective side moldings strategically placed at "door-ding height" to help prevent this problem. But in the last few years, these moldings have been left off to save a few dollars in this very competitive market.

If your vehicle lacks protective molding, you should consider installing it yourself. Installing auto body molding is a fairly simple undertaking for DIY, provided that you take the time to apply it carefully and give it your full attention.

Materials: Body Side Molding kit, Sharp Cutting tool, Rubbing alcohol, Clean white rag, Masking tape, Grease pencil (marks will easily rub off). A warm garage or a sunny day makes the whole job a lot easier.

Quality moldings with 3M peel-and-stick tape are best installed at temperatures warmer than 65 degrees. Plastic moldings are more flexible, easier to manipulate and cut when warmer than 70 degrees. Smaller moldings can be easily cut with heavy sharp kitchen shears or tin snips. For larger moldings, more than 1 inch wide or 3/16 thick, a clean straight cut is somewhat more difficult. A clean sharp anvil pruner will make it easier to get a straight cut on all sizes. A carpenter's utility knife with razor blade inserts also works well, but not one with the break-off blades.

The professional tool used by automotive installers to cut molding looks very similar to a set of anvil pruners, except the blade is 3.5 inch long replaceable razor blade. A thirteen dollar anvil pruner from your local garden or hardware store will do nearly the same job if it is sharp and clean.

Prepare the vehicle bonding surface by cleaning it thoroughly with alcohol and a clean white cotton rag. This removes wax residues so the peel-and-stick adhesive can bond to it securely. Avoid using colored cloth for this purpose, as the dyes in the fabric may leave colored residue behind.

If you do not have a ridge or body line to follow on the car, apply a strip of masking tape to be a guide to help position the auto moulding to be perfectly straight. You may want to measure up from the ground at each end to get a parallel line. Stick the masking tape at one end, and hold it a few inches away from the car while pulling tape off the roll to the other end, eyeball your line, then stick it down lightly. Step back and look to see the lines are right, change if necessary. It is easy to change the tape at this point. Once the body molding is installed and the glue sets for a few days, it does not come off!

Once the straight line of masking tape is in place to provide a guide, use pieces of masking tape to temporarily "dry-fit" the entire length of body molding in place on the vehicle.

Determine where you'll need to cut the body molding for the doors and seams for a precise and accurate installation. Use pieces of tape or a grease pencil to mark the exact locations on the molding where you'll make the cuts. At the door openings, and where the molding ends at the edge of wheel-wells, you may need to cut angles to match the vehicle lines. Allow 1/8" minimum gap for door clearance. At the hinge side of the door you may need to bevel the end of the molding so there is enough clearance when the door is opened.

Once you've marked all the locations, carefully cut the molding. The molding is made from a relatively soft plastic. Cutting isn't difficult, but it is easier when the molding is warmer than when it is colder.

Work with one section at a time, peel about a foot of the backing from the adhesive strips and press the molding into place. Then pull on the loose end of the backing and move along the molding, pressing it into place. After it is applied to the vehicle surface, rub the section of molding firmly with a soft clean cloth to help ensure that it is seated securely. You may want to come back a few hours later, or the next day, to give it another pressure rub to ensure the best adhesion.

Open and close the doors slowly, watching to ensure that the side molding is not touched or rubbed as the door moves. Allow the molding adhesive to set up for at least 24 hours before washing your vehicle. Maximum adhesion is reached after 3-5 days in temperatures above 70 degrees, longer if it is cooler.

That's it, Now you're protected.

Submitted by:

Phil Sollecito

Phil Sollecito is the webmaster for AutoAmenity, Seattle retailer of chrome automotive trim products including hubcaps, wheelskins, grill inserts, auto moldings, door handles, and mirror covers.

http://www.autoamenity.com





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