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Power Windows Not Working, Off Track - "How To" Car Repair Tips




Power windows not working in a car can be caused by several things. The most common cause is a bad power window's motor, the switch could be faulty or the regulator could be binding or the cable could be off one of the pulleys. Rarely, windows may just be STUCK in the weather stripping (called a run) and need to be freed up and the guides lubricated with silicone spray. As a master auto technician, I've repaired literally hundreds of power windows in nearly all makes of cars over the years. In this how to article I'll let you in on some things to look for when diagnosing power windows not working. Ninety percent of the time, these type of problems can be diagnosed in less than sixty seconds!

Stops Working

If the glass moves a few inches and stops, then the motor is allowed time to cool down and will again move a few inches; the power motor will need to be replaced. If there is no sound coming from the motor, it may not be getting power or the motor itself may have an open circuit. Checking for power to the window's motor normally requires removing the door panel to access the wiring. After access to the power window wiring is gained, a test light or meter can be used to see if it is getting power and ground. I've learned over the years a short cut that saves the hassle of removing the door panel for testing the motor. Most of the time when checking this problem, just turn the headlights and interior lights on; look for a slight dimming of the interior or dash lights when the power window switch is pushed. If a slight flicker or dimming of the interior lights occur, this indicates that the switch is functional and the motor is bad. Try this with one of the power windows that is working to gauge the affect on the interior lights. If there is no change in the brightness of the interior lights when trying this with the inoperative window, the switch could be bad.

Appears to Be Off track or is Binding

Windows don't normally just go off track (the regulator fails causing it to move out of the normal position). If the window appears to be off track, the regulator has most likely failed. Window regulators either use metal gears (which rarely fail) or they use a cable and plastic pulley design - which commonly fail. If the window has fallen, the regulator will most likely need to be replaced. If the glass is cocked unevenly and is binding, the regulator has most likely came apart. The motor will be heard when pushing the switch in many cases but the window won't work correctly due to the failed regulator.

DIY Tips to Try

1. Sometimes electric contacts in the window switch can be worn, corroded or dirty. Try pushing the switch with your finger hard and deliberately - if the window starts to work, the switch is the problem and will most likely need to be replaced.
2. After accessing the motor, try tapping on it with an object (like a small wrench or a 3/8" extension) - if it temporarily works, the window motor will need to be replaced.

The repair tips I've shared here will NOT be found in any manual, but sometimes it is necessary to find specific auto repair manual information for certain procedures. Other times it's great to find an auto repair blog for specific repairs with pictures for free.

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