We invest a lot of money in our vans and most of us keep them for a very long time. For this reason maintenance and repair is important to ensure things last as long as they can and operate as they should.
One thing that should be done at least every second winter is checking and caring for your rubber window seals. They are very large and have to put up with detergents, polishes and other chemicals on the inside, and road dirt, washing chemicals, harsh sunlight and freezing on the outside. In addition with the window closed the rubber is lightly compressed for very long periods of time. All of this takes it’s toll on the rubber so a maintenance routine is important and mine is very simple.
Firstly I wash the rubber seals with nothing but warm water and a microfibre cloth. I make sure I give them a good rub to ensure any surface dirt is gone. Then a rub with a dry cloth to encourage drying.
Then I use Castrol’s Red Rubber Grease and rub it in as if I was rubbing an ointment into skin. I almost massage the rubber to ensure the grease is worked into it as best I can. It takes very little grease to achieve this and it’s not too expensive anyway.
I use latex gloves simply to prevent myself getting all oily and once all of the rubber is done, I leave it for an hour or so to ‘dry off’ before closing the windows.
I did have a leak in two windows some time ago which was what started me off researching how to look after rubber. During very heavy rain I found the water would somehow seep through between rubber and window and pool on the inside. It even pooled so much one time in the bathroom that it leaked over the edge and ran down the wall. Since greasing the rubbers though it has never happened again.
Many people say use Petroleum jelly but I’ve also read that you should not use any petroleum based product on natural rubber. I’ve also seen photos of rubber that was allegedly destroyed by using WD40 on it. On one forum a bloke told how he’d used KY jelly to lube his rubber products but as he never stated what products they were…I ignored his advice! Some say petroleum jelly dissolves latex, which is a form of rubber.
I’ve no idea of the veracity of these claims but as mentioned, the grease I use is Castrol Red Rubber Grease. Castrol red rubber grease is made essentially from vegetable oil, and certainly olive oil is claimed to be the closest product to the oils in natural rubber but any vegetable or plant based oil is considered safe or “rubber friendly” as rubber is actually a product direct from a plant.
I think the compatibility of red rubber grease is based on its properties for use in braking and hydraulic systems where it works well but does not interfere with braking and hydraulic fluids, as some greases do.
The primary purpose of red rubber grease is preserving natural rubber parts but here are a list of properties I found on this web site:
- Fully compatible with natural and synthetic rubbers
- Compatible with brake fluids and some hydraulic oils.
- Rust inhibitor (protects from oxidation and rust).
- RRG is water resistant.
- Hight temperarure. The grease can be used in applications with temperatures up to 210-230F. It will not melt and will not contaminate brake pads.
- Petrol resistant. Although it will get contaminated in contact with gasoline, but still it will protect rubber parts from it.
- High chemical and structural(mechanical) stability.
- High resistance against water washing (will stay on after a rain, or car wash).
- Has high wear protecting quality.
So you can see it passes way more tests than it needs to to protect your window rubbers and it’s not prohibitively expensive at around £11 per half a kilo. I’ve been using it every other year now for about 6 years and judging by how much I’ve used I’d say it will last my lifetime easily.
Interestingly, it is red because it is dyed so as to differentiate it from other grease during manufacture. And I thought at first it was just a cool and trendy name…