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Has your Saab 9-3 rear window strip seen better days?

Mine was disintegrating and becoming an eye sore:

Ordering a new strip for a 2004 Saab 9-3 Arc (SAAB 12789697) helped me figure out how this attaches to the rear window.

The c-channel attaches to the window while the rubber flap helps to seal out debris in the gap between the window and the body of the car:

Tools you’ll need:

You don’t need to remove the rear window to replace the strip, but you’ll need some helpful tools to do the job:

  • New rear window strip
  • Small dull scrapers (I used some plastic “gap openers” I had)
  • Pliers
  • A small flathead screwdriver
  • Compressed air w/ blow gun tool
  • Window cleaner
  • Cleaning rag

Ready to replace your rear window strip?

  1. Pry out an end of the old strip using a small flathead screwdriver:

  1. Grab the end that pops out and peel it away from the window edge and the body of the car. You may get a lot of hardened rubber flaking out everywhere in the process.

  1. Repeat for each of the sides and use pliers to grab the end coming off.

  1. Slide the old strip out toward the top as there may not be much room to easily peel it away from the rear window edge like it was at the top. To make this easier, consider first working the old strip away from the edge for the entire side before trying to slide the thing out.

  1. Don’t be surprised to see old hardened rubber flaking off everywhere.

  1. Here’s what the old strip looks like. What used to be 1 piece ended up being 3 metal pieces after the rubber essentially disintegrated.

  1. Use compressed air and a blow gun tool to get most/all the old material out. Check all along the gap up close and get all chunks of hardened rubber out in case the air wasn’t able to dislodge any of the pieces.

  1. Clean the edges with a window cleaner and rags.

  1. Your rear window should be clean at the edges and stripless.

  1. I was tempted in thinking that I didn’t really need the strip as it looked better without one than with a disintegrating strip. I ended up hypothesizing that if snow ever got in there and froze that it may be enough to lift the rear window to cause a leak. Better to replace it and seal the gap!

  2. Lay the new strip and start working a top corner’s c-channel into the window corner using a small dull scraper. Avoid using a sharp flathead screwdriver as it can tear through the rubber. Take your time and gently massage it in so it attaches correctly. Press the strip first into the gap so the strip’s c-channel lines up with the window edge then push the strip into the window so it seats onto the edge.

  1. Slowly work your way along the top and check that the other corner seems to have enough room to fit, else pull on the strip as needed to get it lined up better.

  1. Work the rubber flap at the top corners to go underneath the roof gutters. Be careful if using a small flathead screwdriver as you could tear the rubber. I was able to eventually work it in with predominant use of a small dull scraper and some limited use of a screwdriver.

  1. Keep working the strip in toward the other top corner.

  1. Again, be careful if you use a screwdriver to work the rubber flap underneath the other side’s roof gutter. Rubber will easily tear with a sharp edge.

  1. My small dull scraper did most of the work to massage in the flap to go underneath the rain gutter.

  1. Work your way along the sides from top to bottom in the same way: push in the strip so the c-channel lines up with the window edge and gradually push it into the window so it grabs. The sides were harder than the top as there’s less clearance so take your time and be persistent: it will eventually work itself in with enough elbow grease.

  1. Keep working the strip in by getting it in position:

  1. Push the strip into the car so the c-channel lines lines up better with the window edge, then massage it in toward the window so the c-channel grips the edge.

  1. The strip will eventually grip the edge.

  1. Both bottom corners should line up nicely with the strip and the window.

  1. Check all sides to ensure the strip is evenly seated onto the window edge. Driver side should line up well:

  1. Passenger side should line up well:

  1. Top edge should line up well. I had a slight issue with the top right c-channel not completely seating onto the window edge but decided it was good enough to function sufficiently. Not sure why it wasn’t grabbing as well as the rest of the strip but it wasn’t that noticeably different than the rest and was secure enough in my opinion.

Job done! Below is a before/during/after comparison. This job is worth doing just to keep snow/ice/debris out of that area to protect the rear window seal from being affected.

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Written by :
Gerry Tseng

Gerry lives in Cincinnati, OH where he works as a data analyst by day and enjoys working on cars in his free time. He’s spent over 25 years on domestics + imports alike. His latest efforts include a Saab 9-3, a BMW M3 and a Volvo S60.


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