My Power Window is Stuck – Broken Window Problems

10:56 am DIY, Power Windows

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Power window problems? Read on for free tips.

© DenLorsTools.com  Summary: Tips on pinpointing power window problems. Broken power windows are usually caused by one of several things. The most common problem is a bad power window motor. The second most common problem is the regulator, followed by a bad power window switch. If the window regulator is broken it could be binding or the cable could be off one of the pulleys. In a few cases, the window may just be STUCK. This happens sometimes in rear windows that get little use. The weather stripping that the window slides in (AKA called a window run) can sometimes prevent the window from moving.

Sometimes moving the window by hand at the same time the switch is tried can free up the window. The the guides can be lubricated with a clear silicone spray. Auto mechanic’s repair many of these power window problems week in and week out. I too have repaired literally hundreds of power windows in nearly all makes of cars over the years. In this how to auto repair blog I’ll let you in on some of my personal tips and tricks, when checking power windows that are not working. Most of the time, broken power window problems can be diagnosed in less than a minute.

Power Window Stops Working 

If the window only moves a few inches and stops, but after it is allowed time to cool down – then the window motor will again move a few inches and stop; the power window motor will need to be replaced. If there’s no sound coming from the motor at all, it may not be getting power and ground supplied to it. Another possibility is that the motor itself may have an open circuit. To check for power at the power window motor requires removing the door panel to access the electrical plug. Then wiring can be tested, by using a power probe, test light or multi meter. Over time I’ve learned a short cut that saves the hassle of removing the interior door panel for testing the motor. Due to the demand of current, the fluctuation can be seen by looking for decreased strength of the lights. What I do is; with the key on and engine off, turn the interior and head lights on.

  • Then I look for a slight dimming of the interior or dash lights when the power window switch is pushed.
  • If I see a slight flickering or dimming of any of the lights, I know that the power window switch is working.
  • This tells me in most cases that the power window motor is bad.

You can try this with one of the power windows that is working to see how it affects the interior lights. If there’s no change in the intensity of the lights when trying this with the power window that’s not working, the switch is most likely bad.

Window Appears to Be Off track or is Binding

Windows won’t just go off track by themselves, usually if they fall or bind it’s due to a broken power window regulator.  If a window regulator breaks it can cause the window to go out of it’s normal zone causing it fall or bind and therefore it can be out of the window run or guide. If a window seems to be off track, the regulator is most likely broken. Window regulators sometimes have metal gears (which rarely fail) or they have 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 pitched unevenly and is binding, the regulator has most likely came apart. The window motor will be heard when pushing the switch in many cases but the window won’t work correctly due to the broken regulator.

Suggestions

  1. Window switches are sometimes exposed to rain or spilled soda’s. The electric contacts in the window switch can be worn, corroded or dirty. Try pushing the window switch particularly hard to see what happens – if it works, the PW switch is the problem and will most likely need to be replaced.
  2. Using the tips above and finding the switch to be working and the motor is not. Remove the door panel and try lightly tapping on the motor with a metallic object. If it temporarily works, the window motor will need to be replaced.
  3. If the window has fallen and it just needs to be put up temporarily, many DIY’s will use a piece of wood to prop it in the upright position until they can a visit a repair shop. *Fair warning though, if the window falls inside the door it can break.
16 Responses
  1. Brandon :

    Date: October 22, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    Working good now! Used the dimming of the lights method….found out it was just the switch! Thanks a bunch!!

  2. alex arce :

    Date: May 27, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    What if I hear a clicking sound under the dash when I press the switch? What does it means?

  3. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: May 28, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    Alex, a clicking under the dash when you are working the switch, is most likely just a relay. This is normal. Good Luck.

  4. kim :

    Date: March 13, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    I just bought a 93 Ford explorer and the driver side window won’t come down. I figured it was just off the track but when I pulled off the door panel I could see its still on. It has the scissor style of lift. I’m wondering can I spray wd40 on it to unfreeze the lift mechanism? The motor seems to be working along with the push button.

  5. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: March 14, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    If the motor is turning, the transmission that is in between the motor and the regulator could be bad. On many of the older Ford’s there were nylon balls that over time would wear. If they are worn completely out (broken all to pieces) the motor will still turn but will not engage the regulator. In the past I’ve replaced the nylon (plastic) balls with steel nuts. The nuts will never wear out. Good Luck.

  6. Rod :

    Date: June 22, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

    I have a 2002 GMC Yukon Denani, the driver side window doesnt move when i press the button but I can hear a clicking noise.

  7. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 22, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

    Rod, could be a bad motor. I would check for power and ground at the motor with a test light or meter. Good Luck.

  8. chaz :

    Date: July 9, 2013 @ 12:56 am

    I had a friend fix my broken window to stay up permanently while i decide on whether or not to sell my 2003 honda accord. After one day all of a sudden all of the light for the battery, abs, and odometer readers all came on and the odometers stopped working. Then at the end of the day the car air stopped working all the power windows no longer work and then the car completely died. is there anyway that this sudden decline can be due to an error when disconnecting wires in the windows. I recently replaced the batter and starter within 3 months….so blown away by this!!

    My car has never stopped running for anything except when the starter died. It never fails me and so quickly! Please help!

  9. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: July 9, 2013 @ 7:44 am

    Chaz, the most likely cause is a bad alternator which can affect everything electrical. If it was a problem with the wiring for the window motor, only the one circuit that powers the windows would be affected. So I would check the alternator output. Good Luck.

  10. roadking9960 :

    Date: September 22, 2013 @ 5:58 am

    I have an ’01 Expedtion. The front rt door window jams at the top. I have taken apart and then the motor will work. Then after reassembling and running to the top until it stops it will not go down. After loosening the motor and releaving the bind it will work again. I suspect it binds at the end of the regulator gear and motor gear. Any suggestions ? I like your fix for nylon bearings (above) using nuts for replacement. I am thinking as I write here that I may try some soft hose or tube at the top of the window run to prevent it from bottoming. I like the feedback you offer so let me know any other thing you think might help me. Thanks

  11. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: September 22, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    Sometimes weak motors just don’t have enough power and will bind when the window gets in a tight spot of the window run. If the window runs are in decent shape, lubricating them with clear silicone spray may help. I like to use silicone pastes which lasts longer but can be a bit messy. I have had to replace window runs before just because lubricating did not make enough of a difference and I knew the motor was good. New window runs have less resistance compared to a new non weathered and worn one. Good Luck.

  12. Phee67 :

    Date: June 11, 2014 @ 11:18 am

    What size nuts did you use in your older Mustang?

  13. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 11, 2014 @ 11:24 am

    I think they were 5/16″ but I don’t remember for sure. Just see what size fits. You just want them to take up the space and maybe allow a tad bit of movement. Good Luck.

  14. Phee67 :

    Date: June 11, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

    Dennis,

    Thanks – any worries that they damage the gear?

  15. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 11, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

    Doesn’t touch the gear. Only touches the inside plastic components. Of course there won’t be as much give, but I’ve never seen there be a problem.

  16. Phee67 :

    Date: June 11, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    Thanks again!

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