Power windows are taken for granted until they don’t work, am I correct? When they fail it turns a fast-food drive through or a simple coffee run into an ordeal (I was going to use more colorful language here but decided not to).
What do I do if a power window has failed?
Your two basic options are to have a qualified auto repair shop perform a repair or do it yourself. The goal of this article is to give you some general information as to what components are involved and what could be wrong. Armed with this information, you will know what to expect with whatever decision you choose.
Let’s start with what components are involved. Here is a basic list:
- Window Regulator
- Window Regulator Motor
- Power Window Switch
- Power window Wiring
- Power Window Control Unit (could be Body Control Module, or a separate Window Control Module)
- Tracks, Guides and weather-stripping the window rides in
What can be wrong with my Power Window?
Well, any of the above! We must consider the age of the system first. How long have these components been doing their job and at what frequency have they been used? If its your driver power window, it’s probably because this is the one that gets the most use. Is the vehicle five or more years old? Chances are that the components are worn out. If the power window is not the driver window and is newer, the chances are that there is a product defect or something happened to damage the mechanism.
Could the power window mechanism have been damaged somehow?
Was the vehicle ever in an accident? Was the door subjected to some type of unusual force such as a windstorm that may have caught the door in an open position and slammed it shut excessively hard? Has anyone exposed the window to any downward force (think: getting a favorite stuffed animal stuck between the glass and upper door frame when rolling the window up or trying to operate the window with an ice or snow build-up on the exterior)?
What component has failed?
Whatever the cause or what component has failed, you still need to repair the power window right? Here are the BASIC troubleshooting steps to help determine what component is bad.
- Do you hear a noise when trying to roll the window up for down? If so, what type of noise is it?
- No noise – Motor has failed, switch, wiring or control module has failed.
- Makes a “ticking” sound – Window Regulator has failed. Window Motor may still be ok.
- Makes a “electric motor running sound” – Window Regulator has failed. Window Motor may still be ok.
- Window moves up or down some but stops – Window track system or weather-stripping could be damaged, dry or misaligned. Motor or regulator may also be weak.
How do I replace a window regulator and motor assembly?
If you’ve determined that the regulator and/or motor need to be replaced the general process is as follows:
- Remove the door trim panel
- Gently remove the vapor barrier (will need to be reinstalled later)
- Disconnect the electrical connections
- Secure the window in the up position so it is out of the way and does not drop down when removing the regulator
- Remove and replace window regulator/motor assembly
- Reverse the instructions for reassembly.
This is a very simplified set of instructions. Anyone that has replaced a power window regulator and motor will tell you that this can be a very difficult process (think black diamond trail). It will likely require a few specialty tools for the removal of the door trim panel, regulator, and various other components. The regulator is generally held in by special rivets that will need to be drilled out. Reinstalling these rivets require a specialty rivet gun and rivets.
If you think the track or weather-stripping is causing you trouble, it will need to be diagnosed. Our auto repair facility would generally remove the regulator from the window and manually move the window up and down the tracks to see if there is an obstruction. This will reveal which parts require alignment or replacement.
Unless you are mechanically adept, we may recommend you have a qualified repair shop handle this type of job. Our technicians at Elite Auto Repair are some of the most skilled and knowledgeable in the business. We do this type of work every day. Elite auto Repair has the tools, part resources and knowledge to troubleshoot and repair failed window regulator units.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are in the Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa or Chandler area. We can certainly help.