Since our last installment, we've put several hundred miles on our "Shoestring" C5's odometer and had a chance to get better acquainted with the car's first round of upgrades. Thanks to the new drivetrain components from Fidanza, SPEC, and Mid America Motorworks, the engine revs more quickly, and the clutch pedal engages with both less effort and greater precision.
Now that we've improved the car's drive-ability, we'll be using this month's story to focus on a couple of traditional C5 trouble spots. We decided to begin with the weatherstripping. During our initial inspection, we were surprised to find that the only problematic area seemed to be the outermost upper corner of the B-pillar seal. This strip runs from the rear of the driver door around the front of the targa bar and over to the rear of the passenger door, providing a waterproof seal for the top and windows. The wear here was most likely due to the repeated removal and reinstallation of the roof panel.
Locating a replacement was easy, thanks to Corvette America's 481-page Master Catalog. The company offers every seal originally fitted to the fifth-generation cars, both individually and in cost-effective kits. After a quick browse through the catalog's C5 section, we decided that PN 38949, (Weatherstrip, Roof & Window Rear Coupe; $125) was exactly what we needed.
Upon receiving the new seal, we compared it with the (still-installed) factory piece to verify fitment. In doing so, we quickly realized this job was perhaps best left to professionals with the experience and specialty tools needed to do things right. Once again, we chose the folks at Bill Buck Chevrolet's Corvette Connection, in Venice, Florida. We got in touch with body-shop manager Claude Bates, who fit us in quickly and assigned Lead Master Tech Paul Heavner to the project.
With shop time scheduled, we decided to go ahead and take care of another urgently needed exterior repair. As is the case with many regularly driven early C5s, our car's side mirrors had become loose. In doing so, they lost the full range of adjustability that is so important to obtaining a proper rear view. At first we hoped to find a repair procedure we could use on the original mirrors, but we had no luck on this front. A subsequent Internet search for a set of lightly used mirrors proved similarly disappointing.
Once we resigned ourselves to purchasing new units from GM, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the parts cost only $335 for the pair. (They carry GM PN 10416055 and PN 10416056). In fact, the additional amount we spent for the new mirrors (as compared with the originally projected cost of repairing the used ones) was not nearly as high as we expected. The new units actually proved the best way to go, since all the parts were fresh, and we didn't have to worry about preexisting damage or wear.
Let's follow along to see how the professionals go about installing these new pieces.
Before removing the old weatherstripping, it is a good idea to lay the new piece in the sun to make it a little more pliable. You will most likely find several small pieces of tape applied to the mating surface of the new stripping. This covers the manufacturer-applied adhesive and should not be removed until after you have test-fitted the new seal and are ready to install it permanently.
Carefully remove the hold-down screws at the bottom of the original seal and gently pull the seal away from the mounting surface. You will see a number of trim retainers that can be removed with a "horseshoe"-type tool. Count them before removal, so you'll know you have them all. Then gently pull them out, taking care not to lose them. They will be needed to install the new seal.