Power windows are great, as long as they are working. However, once they stop working, they are nothing but a nuisance. When this happens, regardless of what the underlying problem is, we tend to say that the window is “off its track.” It doesn’t really matter that the window does not have a track; that is what we are used to calling it.
Earlier power windows used a plastic track to raise and lower the window. These tracks would tend to break after a period of time, especially if the car was in a hot climate, which would cause the plastic to dry out and become brittle. Repairing an inoperative window usually meant replacing the window track, which had to be done exactly right, or the new track would break the first time the vehicle owner tried to raise their window.
Due to the maintenance headache that these plastic tracks became, auto manufacturers came up with a better system, using a mechanical device that is referred to as a regulator.. Nevertheless, we still refer to an inoperative power window as “being off-track.”
How Power Windows Work
All power windows get their power from a small, reversible motor hidden inside the door. Operating the window switch provides power to this motor, causing it to run forward or in reverse. The motor is connected to the regulator via a couple of gears. While there are a number of regulator styles, most have a couple of arms that perform a scissoring action when power is applied to the motor. One part of the scissors is attached to the door itself, and the other is attached to the bottom edge of the window. The opening and closing action of the scissor arms of the regulator causes the window to go up and down.
The system may also have a couple of guides which ensure that the window stays straight as it goes up and down. Some designs do away with these guides, integrating this function into the regulator. The last component is the window channel,, or what most people refer to as the window seal. This seal not only keeps wind and water from coming into the vehicle, but it also works to align the window, ensuring that it seals correctly.
Diagnosing a Power Window Problem
While we generically refer to window problems as the window being “off-track,” there are actually several different things that can be wrong with an inoperative power window. Before taking everything apart, it is a good idea to do some basic troubleshooting to determine what is causing the problem.
As with most troubleshooting, the process is mostly one of elimination. We need to look at the symptoms that have presented themselves, run a few tests to see if we can make those problems go away or appear in other circumstances, and then analyze the information.
If the Window Is Stuck Up or Down
Start out by determining which window or windows are not working. If none of the windows are working, then the most likely culprit is the fuse. If only the driver’s window is working, but the others are not, then check the window lock switch. If only one window is not working, then the problem must be with that window, motor, regulator, or switch.
To eliminate the switch as a problem, try pressing the switch a number of times and pressing it as far as it will go. If it only works when pressed really hard, then the switch is the culprit. For any window but the driver’s window, try operating the window from the driver’s control, as well as from the control on the door. If it works from the driver’s control, but not from the control on the door, then the problem is with the switch on that door.
If the window does not work, no matter what is done with the switch, the next step is to check the motor. Determine if the motor can be heard when the switch is operated. If not, try turning on the headlights and looking at them when the switch is operated. See if they dim. If the motor can be heard or the lights dim slightly, then the motor and switch are both working. The problem must be in the regulator or window. If they do not dim and no sound can be heard, the problem could be the motor.
If the Window Is Loose in the Door
If the window is loose enough in the door that it can be raised and lowered by hand, then there is a problem with either the regulator or how the window connects to the regulator. Windows are connected to the regulator, either through holes in the bottom of the window or studs that are glued to the bottom of the window. If these studs break loose or the bottom of the window breaks, the window may no longer be attached to the regulator. If the window is still attached to the regulator, the regulator needs to be changed.
Replacing Power Window Components
To replace the window motor or regulator,, access to them needs to be gained through the inside of the door. This means that the inner door trim panel must be removed. These panels are held in place by a combination of screws and push-in plastic or metal wire clips.
Accessing the Inside of the Door
Start by removing any screws that are holding the door trim panel in place. Common places to locate these are in the handle pocket of the armrest, under the armrest, in the pocket for the interior door latch, and in the door’s map pocket. The screw may be hidden by a snap-in plastic cap, which can be popped out by prying on the head with a screwdriver.
The pop-in clips can be loosened by prying on the door. There is a special door panel removal tool for this that looks like a small pry bar. Some are made of metal, but the best ones are made of plastic so that they will not scratch the paint on the door. A large screwdriver can also be used. Once the first clips are loosened, the rest come loose by grabbing the trim panel and pulling on it carefully.
The door handle pocket usually holds up removing the panel. Slide it forward and then pull it out of the door. There is a small clip holding the rod to the back-side of the door handle. Remove the clip, and then disengage the handle from the rod, which allows the handle to be removed.
With the handle removed, the only thing that should be holding the door in place is the window trim/seal. To disengage this, lift up on the door trim panel. The panel will still be connected to the door by the connectors for the windows and door lock. These can be disconnected to remove the panel entirely, or left connected with the panel lowered to the ground.
Behind the trim panel, there is usually a plastic film to act as a moisture barrier. This needs to be cut in order to access the openings in the door panel. There are usually two to three openings, some of which may be covered by a panel or door module that is held in place with screws. Access to the inside of the door is limited, so it can be challenging to work on the door regulator and motor.
If it appears from the troubleshooting that the problem might be the motor, check with a multimeter or voltage test light to see that it is receiving power when the switch is operated. Try operating the window again to see if the cause of the problem becomes more obvious with the window workings revealed.
Taking the Window Mechanism Apart
If the window regulator or motor needs to be replaced, the window must be removed. As previously mentioned, the bottom of the window is attached to the regulator with two screws. With the window in the fully up position, these can be accessed through the window opening in the top of the door, where the seal was removed. It will take a 10-mm wrench or socket to remove the nuts that hold the window. Be careful not to drop them into the door.
With the window removed, check for operation of the mechanism again. If the window was binding up with the guides or channel, the motor and regulator should operate, although you will not see the window go up and down. The movement of the regulator should be visible through the openings in the inner door panel.
To determine if the motor or regulator is bad, disconnect them from each other. If the motor operates while being disconnected from the regulator, then the regulator is bad. If the motor does not work when it has power, then the motor is bad. Replace the motor.
Removing a Bad Regulator
While the metal bars of the regulator cannot go bad unless the vehicle is in an accident, the plastic rollers on them can. If these jump out of the track, get broken, or bind up, the regulator needs to be replaced.
There is a row of screws going through the inner door panel into the regulator. Since the motor and window are already disconnected from the regulator, removing these screws allows the regulator to be removed through the same slot that the window came out of.
Taking Care of a Window Sticking in the Channel
If the mechanism is working fine, but the window will not move up and down, the problem is how the window fits in the channel. This channel is made of rubber and can become misplaced over time. If this happens, it might bind up against the window, keeping it from moving.
Visually examine the channel to see if it is twisted, folded, or bunched in any place. If it can be smoothed back out and glued into place without any wrinkles, then it can still be used. If it cannot, then it should be replaced.
A spray-on silicone lubricant can be applied to the window channel to facilitate the movement of the window. Use a straw to direct the lubricant into the slot in the channel and apply liberally.
Putting It All Back Together
Everything goes back together pretty much the opposite of how it came apart. The first thing that needs to be installed is the new regulator. It can be slipped through the window slot in the door and lowered into place. Replace all the screws that were removed. Once mounted, the motor can be attached to the regulator. Check to be sure that the electrical connector to the motor is attached and that the latching tabs have engaged.
The window needs to be reinstalled next. Slip it into the channel, supporting it well, and slip the studs into the appropriate holes in the regulator. Reattach with the same nuts that were used before.
Before continuing, check the operation of the window. If necessary, add more silicone lubricant to ensure smooth operation.
Place the interior door trim panel onto the door by hooking the window seal in place first. Align the snap-in connectors and strike the door panel at their locations with a rubber mallet or the side of a fist to seat them. Reconnect the door handle to the operation rod and slip the door handle pocket back into place. Finally, reinstall the screws that were removed from the door panel.
Buying Window Parts on eBay
When window regulators and motors need to be replaced, eBay is an excellent place to find new ones. The extensive selection of parts is easily searched to find the right ones for any vehicle. To search for them, use the search bar located at the top of any page of the eBay website. Be sure to input the door year and model, along with the name of the needed part, so that eBay’s search engine can narrow the search down to parts which will fit that vehicle. Car window regulators and window motors can also be found by going to eBay Motors and using the “Find a part or accessory” search tool.
These parts are particular to the left or right side of a vehicle, so it is important to make sure that the regulator or motor that is purchased is the correct one for that side of the vehicle. In vehicles where there are front and rear power windows, the rear-seat mechanisms are usually the same as the front-seat ones.
When a power car window does not work, we are used to saying that it is “off its track.” This is somewhat of a misnomer, as power windows do not use tracks anymore. Instead, they have a mechanism called a regulator. This device takes the rotational power of the motor and converts it to a vertical up-and-down movement to operate the window. Regulator designs vary extensively, so it is important to have the right regulator for the vehicle.
Troubleshooting a power window mechanism is a process of eliminating the parts in the system. It is a fairly easy system to troubleshoot, as it only has a few components. Eliminating the possibility of the fuse and switch, all that is left is the motor, regulator, and the window itself, along with the channel that the window sits in. As each of these parts is checked and eliminated, it narrows down the possibilities.
Regulators can go bad, as they usually have small plastic wheels that move in a track. If these pop out of place, it is an indication that they are worn. While it might be possible to pop them back into place, it will only be a short time before they fail again. Thus, it is better to replace the regulator and eliminate the problem.
You can always consult Daks Toyota for any issues with your Toyota and through our team of expert mechanics, we can give you the solution. You can also visit Toyotamobi.com to know more about our toyota consultancy mobile application.