DeLorean Roof Seal Replacement

8/14-26/2005

Swear Meter Reading of 8: Scary nature of work, but not difficult.  Major loss of skin/blood possible

I bought my car in July and had it delivered in August 2005. It was raining a lot back then, and I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to sit in the emissions line if it were raining and my car's roof seals were shot. I did some research and decided to buy a new set of roof seals with machine screws (as opposed to poprivets) so I could change it out more easily someday in the future.

The seals were both broken in half lengthwise, offering no hope of repair. Worse yet, to replace them I'd read it was "easier" with the T-Panel off, so I started there.

Removing the T-Panel shouldn't have been so difficult, but it was. A full pictorial procedure can be found on Jordan Rubin's site. The process goes something like this:

1. Open both doors and peel back the rubber seal attached to the T-panel closest to the door strut.  This exposes 3 screws on each side of the T. Remove the 6 screws.

2. Lift up the louvres and have a look at the thin plastic retainer above the rear glass.  Carefully remove the black caps and remove the 3 screws holding it on.

3. Very, very carefully remove the plastic screen. It's hooked into the T-Panel by several tabs, and you can sort of rotate it to remove it. Set it someplace safe.

4. The back edge of the T-Panel is razor sharp.  I cut both of my index fingers on it pretty badly. In theory the T-Panel should be held on by a few pieces of foam and double-sided tape.  Mine was held down by about a half gallon of RTV sealant.  It took me a few hours to get it off using two different kinds of plastic putty knives. Hopefully yours will just lift off. Set it aside carefully. Apply gauze and Neosporin as needed. I think blood will corrode stainless steel, so be careful. Congratulations, you've given your car a reverse mohawk! Now take this opportunity to clean up under there.

As if this wasn't enough trouble, the original seals were riveted on before the door was attached and the torsion bar put in place. In order to remove the old seals you have to drill out the poprivets using a 1/8" drill bit and a LOT of care. I fashioned torsion bar covers out of a piece of garden hose slit lengthwise. I also shoved a towel in the door jam to protect the rubber seal from the drill. Some were more difficult than others, and you have to be really careful not to push too hard or you'll get little dimples in the roof when the drill pushes through. Another problem you'll face is the back half of the poprivet will roll around in the door for a few weeks.  You'll take a hard turn and hear them rolling around. After a while they'll settle or come out a weep hole at the bottom of the door. When you hear one rolling around you'll smile and look at the scars on your hands with fond memories.

The seals are glued to a metal piece.  My old seals VIN 5572 were mated to a completely different metal bracket. The new seals I presume were from a later VIN set, and actually it's a better design so I just went with it. I got my set from DeLorean Motor Center in California.  They were the only ones to offer machine screws that were ground down to the correct length already instead of poprivets. Drilling that close to the torsion bar was scary enough without thinking of using a poprivet gun.

With the door closed, you can pull on the bracket and slide it towards the middle of the car.  Insert the new seal accordingly and very carefully monitor its progress as you open up the door again, making sure that you've got it in the right place.  I had to adjust its placement a few times before getting it right. It's kind of a tight fit. I found it easiest to screw it to the door from the outside inward.  The seal actually has an effect on how the door opens, so if your door flings up too fast with a broken seal this might help to dampen it some.

If your door opens and closes normally and the seals look like they're doing their job, you can either replace your T-panel now or do some "while you're in there" kind of maintenance like checking under the little panel in the roof, running extra wires, etc. Use RTV sealant to re-glue the rubber seals back over the screws.