Power windows are one of the essential electrical systems in a car. Window regulators (like onboard computers) are not repairable parts and need to be replaced. A malfunctioning power window regulator system can be dangerous and should be fixed immediately.
Components of a power window system:
- The Window Motor – this is the thing that makes the sound as the window operates. It is responsible for driving the mechanism that raises or lowers the window.
- The Window Mechanism – a system of greased gears and levers that are driven by the motor to lift or lower the window.
- The Window Regulator – the electrical system that goes between the window button and the motor.
Why are window regulators important?
- They are responsible for ensuring that the window motor doesn’t work too hard or too long.
- They prevent the window from closing on objects such as arms or elbows.
- They are responsible for functions such as auto close or opening of the windows and on some vehicles, they close the windows if the central locking button is pressed.
Signs that a window regulator could be failing:
- Nothing happens when the window close/open button is pressed. This could also be related to a jammed mechanism or a stuck pane of glass.
- One or more windows fail to completely open or shut completely.
- Burning smell from the window control panel or door well.
- Window moves slowly.
- Motor continues to run after the window is completely up or down.
- Window switches feel warm to the touch.
Note that odd sounds made by the window mechanism are usually not related to the regulators. Fixing a failed regulator is important, leaving it can cause long term damage to other components of the power window system. The interior computer or charging system could also be affected.
What causes a regulator to fail?
- Age – it’s common for a regulator to fail after roughly 10 years.
- Water ingress – regulators are electrical – so they aren’t friendly with water.
- Jammed or sticky mechanisms – these cause the motor load to increase. This means that the regulator must deal with a higher current draw, causing it to fail.
- Faulty charging system components – a faulty charging system can cause the regulators to run at a higher voltage than they are designed for, leading to premature failure.
What the mechanic may do:
- Run an electrical diagnostic.
- Remove the door trim and inspect all the window mechanisms for correct operation.
- Manually test each individual window regulator.
- Service the window mechanism if necessary.
How can I make my regulators last longer?
- Operate the windows only when necessary.
- Operate the windows when the vehicle is stationary or at a constant speed.
- Don’t close items (like sun shields) in the windows.
- Don’t get aftermarket window tint, or make sure that it is professionally installed.
- Be assertive with the window controls.