Regulators Motors and Switches


 

What are the Components of Power Windows?

Simply: RegulatorMotorSwitch     – At some point in the life of the vehicle, one or more of these will fail. What are they? Read on.

Power Windows have been an option in vehicles as early as 1940 in the Packard. It was a Hydro Electric system and Ford followed up in 1941 with a system of their own. Power Windows were an Option up till about the 80’s.  About this time they became a standard feature on most vehicles.  Manual Windows now have become the “Option”.

Have you wondered what’s inside your door? What actually makes the car power windows go up and down? Some vehicles have power windows that go Up and Down Automatically.  They also have an “anti-pinch” feature that stops raising if they are obstructed.  Maybe you’ve see videos where the window is opened by turning the key in the door lock.

We’ll explain what the components of the power windows are, AND explain what power window parts are replaced, repaired or rebuilt. Most of the time, rebuilding the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part is stronger than replacing it.

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The Lifting Mechanism / Assembly / Regulator

The main component of the modern power window is the Regulator or Lifting Mechanism (Assembly).  It’s essentially at the heart of the power window system.  You’ve probably heard the saying “Oh, it’s just Off Track”.  That’s not going to be the case any longer. Modern power window regulators don’t go “off track”. There’s some pivot point or stress point that has broken.

There are several styles of Window Regulators.  We’ll cover the primary styles that are used in the vehicles today.

  • Cable Regulators
  • Scissor Lifts
  • Flexible Shaft
  • Cantilever

Regulator Examples

Essentially the Power Window Regulator job is to lift & lower the glass while keeping it level.  This is done by an Electric motor that is geared via spools or reduction gears.  Providing sufficient torque to lift and lower the window.

What’s important about Power Windows is they can’t be forced open.  The Cables and Gears take care of this.  Your vehicle is vulnerable to vandalism and theft when the power window regulator is broke. Duct Tape, Wedges or little pieces of cardboard broadcast that THIS WINDOW IS BROKEN.

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All Power Window Regulators have weak spots.  This is due to the plastic parts, or environmental strains that wear out or break. The Leaders in Power Window Repair / The Power Window Doctors use OEE (Original Equipment Equivalent) or stronger parts when repairing your power window regulator.

Manual window regulators are essentially the same, except, there are no wires, motors or switches.  They wear out similarly but are not as popular as they were.

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Power Window Motors

Power Window Motors have evolved over the years. Prior to about 1995, power window motors were more universal. The same motor was used through out many vehicle models in Ford, Chrysler, GM (Chevrolet) and even imports Honda, Nissan (Datsun), Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW. That is not the case today. Now most are designed for specific models, years and regulator design.  One particular motor may only fit 2-3 years of a specific vehicle.  Another may fit a wide range of vehicles (Ex: GM Trucks 2000 – 2006, or Ford Trucks (1995 – 2000).  Those are now the exceptions to the rule.

Window Motor Examples

Power window motors are now getting smaller and more specific. They also are not user friendly when it comes to replacing just the motor.  A lot of time the power window regulator and motor come as a combination.

This is due to springs (that can cause injury when released) or how the cables are spooled and tension applied.

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  Power Window Switches

Power Windows may be wired in different ways, dependent upon the features.

The Basic System

This system is just that, Basic.  Power is fed to the front drivers door and comes back through to control the other doors.  They all feed through the same 20 Amp fuse. Most of the time (99.999%) there is no such thing as “just a blown fuse”.  Typically if there is a switch problem, it’s going to be worn contacts or diodes.

The switch is simple in design.  The button is pressed and it completes a circuit in the direction you want to window to go. The power goes towards the Up or the power goes towards the Down. When these contacts have a carbon build up, they stop working.

Window Switch Examples

An Advanced System

In these systems the power windows work in a completely different way. Some cars have what’s called a Body Controller (Body Control Module – BCM) that centralizes the electronic functions. The power for window motors doesn’t come directly from the switch. Instead it is connected to one of the many modules in the vehicle. (Average is 25 modules) Some have a module in each door.

Vehicles that have lots of controls are likely to have this. Some switches include the power mirror controls, power door locks and even power seat adjustments. This makes the switch more expensive to replace simply because one window doesn’t work. Most likely it’s the Drivers Power Window that stops working.

Note: On some vehicles like this, the dealer has to “Program” the switches.  The software isn’t available to the general public. (Chevrolet Trucks 2007 >, Chevrolet Trailblazer Master Switch etc.)

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Additional Features

  • Automatic Up/Down – A fairly common feature on most cars with power windows is the Automatic-down feature. When the button is tapped and released the window goes completely down. The split second you hold the switch down is monitored by a circuit and stops when it hits the limit switch.  When the button is held down longer, it’ll stop when you release the button. Windows with the Automatic-up feature are less common. A concern with Automatic-up windows is if a child, or anything, gets in the way of the window it has to stop before hurting the child. (or breaking the glass) This is controlled by monitoring the motor speed via a circuit in the BCM (see above). If the window slows or binds, the circuit reverses the motor so the window goes back down halfway or all the way.
  • Window Control From Outside – Some vehicles you can roll the window down just by turning (and holding) the door key in the drivers door. You’ve probably seen this in commercials. Not very useful, in our opinion.
  • Courtesy Power-On – When you turn the ignition off, the power windows will continue to work until one of the doors are opened.  This is a convenience feature that saves from having to put the key in the ignition to just roll down the window. After a given amount of time, this feature is turned off by the BCM.

Power Window Repair / Diagnosis

Diagnosing the Power Window is a simple process. What happened just before and after the window stopped working? Did you hear a SNAP – POP! and the window just sank in the door or dropped suddenly? When you pushed on the button nothing happens, it just didn’t go down? It went down and now when you pull the button, it doesn’t go Up? It works intermittently, at times it goes slow and other times it doesn’t do a thing?

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Here’s some questions for diagnosing:

  1. Do you hear the motor?  If you hear the motor, then the motor is still working and the switch is still good.  Most likely the regulator is broke and needs to be replaced or repaired.
  2. Did the window go down and just not come back up? If you don’t hear the motor and you didn’t hear a SNAP or POP!, then it’s most likely going to be a switch issue.
  3. Is the window stuck UP and not coming down?  The motor is most like the culprit.  When a motor is stuck UP, the carbon has built up enough to prevent current from flowing through the motor.
  4. Is your window cockeyed or going up at an angle? The Window Regulator is most like broke.  One of the glass carriers has detached from the glass and the regulator is only lifting from the front or the back.

Call for a complete Diagnosis.  We’ll quote a fair price for repairing or replacing the component that’s failed.  Providing a 1 Yr Warranty on Parts and Labor.  Let The Leaders in Power Window Repair / The Power Window Doctors be your first choice.