How can I install a rear window defroster kit?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

Help! You are my last resort. My dear cousin gave me a "defroster kit" for the rear window of my two-door Ford Escort. The kit is three years old now and I still haven't found a mechanic who will put it in for me! A box of chocolates for you--homemade--if you can solve this.

TOM: Is your cousin's name Ralph? We got a letter from a guy named Ralph about three and a half years ago. He had one of these kits, and he couldn't get anyone to install it for him. He asked us what to do with it, and we told him to give it to some unsuspecting relative as a gift.

RAY: The reason you can't get anyone to install it for you is that it's almost impossible to do a decent job.

TOM: You have this very large, incredible sticky piece of clear contact paper with little wires running through it. And you have to somehow apply it smoothly to the inside of the sloping rear window while you're lying upside down with your back arched over the rear seat. It always ends up looking like that wallpaper scene from "I Love Lucy."

RAY: There are three possible solutions, Marjorie. One is to take the car to an "auto glass" shop, and have them remove your rear window. Once the window is out and lying on the ground, someone ought to be able to install the defroster with reasonably good results.

TOM: If that doesn't work out, your other option is to replace the rear window with a new one that has a defroster built into it. That, of course, runs into money.

RAY: And there's always the option of just arching your back over the rear seat and taking a stab at it. If worse comes to worse and you really make a mess of it, scrape it off and throw it away.

TOM: If you have any success, send the chocolates to my attention, Marjorie. If my brother gets his hands on them, I won't stand a chance.

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