Troubleshooting Broken Window Cranks and Switches

driver in carWindow Operation is Important

When one of your vehicle’s side windows stops working correctly, while a personal irritation, more importantly, it can lead to real problems. For instance, if the window is stuck open, even just a couple of inches, that is an open invitation to thieves. If the window is stuck closed, that is somewhat the better of the two options. However, you still cannot lower the window, becoming a real problem if you are stopped by a traffic cop and told to, “Lower your window, please.” Next thing you know, you are spread eagle on the ground with your arms handcuffed behind your back. Of course, the worst case is if there is an emergency situation, when you absolutely need to open the window immediately, but cannot.

One or Two Problem Sources

If your window hand cranks up and down, then your problem must, by design, be limited to issues that crop up with the mechanical linkages only. It is when your window is powered up and down by the control of a rocker switch that you have two possible sources of problems: the mechanical linkages and the electrically powered and controlled motor actuator assembly. If you have power windows, you can quickly determine which of the two problem areas to work on. Just push the button and hold your ear near the door. If you hear the window’s motor making a humming sound, then the problem is likely mechanical in nature.

Solving a Mechanical Problem

Remove the several interior door panel screws and pull the panel off the inside of the door, exposing all the internal parts. The tricky part here is to carefully lift off the panel and then to carefully disconnect any wiring harness connectors. Pull back the ends of the thin plastic water barrier and use a flashlight to take a close look at all the mechanical parts of the window’s up and down operation. Look for any foreign object that might be blocking a gear set, window track movement, or lever movement. Some lubrication is usually in order. You can go to the parts store and buy special white or yellow “door grease”.

Solving an Electric Window Problem

electrical repairTroubleshooting an electric window should only be something you approach if you have experience and confidence in troubleshooting electronic systems. Always practice safety first.

Even if you determine you have an electrical problem with your power window, there are still some mechanical issues you must deal with. All the wires are mechanically attached inside the door panel. Follow the same procedure for removing the interior door panel as given above at the start of ‘Solving a Mechanical Problem.’ Next, use a Volts Ohm Meter (VOM) to measure the power level of the two wires supplying power into the door. If your meter does not read close to 12 Volts DC (VDC), you may have main car battery problems. Power doors have electric motors in them that are very high in torque, but they do that by converting a hefty ampere load of 12 VDC into motive power.

If the power input to the door is correct, next visually check out all the wiring to make sure wires make the correct circuit, from the input to a rocker switch, to the motor. Reattach or replace any disconnected wires. If the window will still not work, detach the wires from the motor and test with your VOM to make sure 12 VDC or -12 VDC is present whenever the switch is pressed. If so, the problem is that your motor is burned out or somehow blocked internally. Usually this is where you go to the parts store to buy a replacement motor. If you’re simply tenacious, you might try fixing the motor, but it’s not recommended. If you cause damage to your vehicle it could potentially cost a lot more than if you went to the shop in the first place. With this type of issue you’ll probably want a certified mechanic to do the repair.