How to fix a stuck electric window on a car

Written by eli laurens
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Automotive electric windows use a switched motor to operate an internal window regulator, raising or lowering the glass. Many issues can prevent the window from operating, leaving it in a stuck position. The average backyard mechanic can fix a stuck electric window in about 45 minutes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fuse-pulling tool
  • Socket set
  • Screwdrivers

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  1. 1

    Check the fuse panel for fuses with disrupted filaments. Fuse panels are typically on the left side of the dashboard between the dash and the door. The electric window system is linked to the fuses in this panel, and there may also be a secondary fuse box under the bonnet on the driver's side fender. This secondary panel operates primary engine functions, but some manufacturers run window subsystems through this box. Replace any blown fuses with a new unit that has the proper rating (indicated by colour).

  2. 2

    Disconnect the battery by turning the positive terminal bolt counterclockwise with a socket wrench. Pry the electric window switch panel from the door or armrest with a screwdriver. Disconnect the switches from the wiring harness by pulling the adaptor plugs apart with your hands. Smell the switch assembly for a burn odour, and check it for excessive moisture. Replace the switch assembly with a new unit or replace the individual switches.

  3. 3

    Remove the door panel by turning the interior door handle screws counterclockwise with the screwdriver. Turn the armrest bolts counterclockwise with the socket wrench. Pull the panel firmly with your hands to disengage the pop rivets holding it to the door metal. When all the rivets are loose, the panel will come away from the door. Set it aside, away from the work area.

  4. 4

    Check the window regulator joints for damage. Any damaged joints will require complete replacement of the window regulator (turn the mount bolts counterclockwise and manoeuvre the regulator from the door). Grab the window glass and lightly move it back and forth in the regulator to check it for play. There should be no play in the side-to-side motion of the glass; if there is, then it may be stuck due to being misaligned. Secure the glass connections to the regulator by tightening the fittings. Be sure to align the glass before tightening the fittings, and do not tighten them too far. Many manufacturers differ in the construction of this fastener, so check with the repair manual for your specific model.

  5. 5

    Replace the electric motor by unplugging it from the wiring harness and turning the mount bolts counterclockwise with the socket wrench. Pull the motor from the regulator gears. Position the new motor into the regulator gears, then secure the mount bolts in a clockwise direction with the socket wrench. Reconnect the wiring harness by pressing the adaptor plugs together with your hands.

  6. 6

    Reattach the door panel by pressing it to the pop rivets, tapping firmly to seat each one. Turn the armrest bolts and interior door handle screws in a clockwise direction until they are snug.

  7. 7

    Reconnect the power window switches to the wiring harness by pressing the adaptor plug together. Press the switch assembly into the door panel until it is seated.

  8. 8

    Reconnect the battery by turning the positive terminal bolt in a clockwise direction with the socket wrench.

Tips and warnings

  • A damaged wiring harness or lack of battery or alternator power can cause power windows to malfunction.
  • Use extreme caution when working with a vehicle's electrical system.

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